Time’s come for the capture of Jhangar. It is not an easy task, but I’ve complete faith in you all to do your best to recapture the lost ground and retrieve the honor of our arms—we must not falter, we must not fail. Forward friends, fearless we go to Jhangar. India expects everyone to do his duty. Jai Hind.
These are the words of Brigadier Mohammad Usman in a signed order to the “Comrades of 50 (I) Para Brigade.
Born on July 15, 1912, in Bibipur, Mau district, Uttar Pradesh, Mohammad Usman was the son of a police officer. His father wanted him to join the civil services but he was adamant in his decision to join the army. Such was his courage and determination that at the age of 12 he jumped into a well to save a drowning child. He had such exemplary leadership qualities that in a very short time he rose to the ranks of Brigadier. His role in defending Naushera and Jhangar in Jammu and Kashmir made him the hero of 1947 War. Here is a list of 10 facts about his life.
1. At the age of 20, Mohammad Usman succeeded in getting admission to the prestigious Royal Military Academy (RMA) at Sandhurst, England.
He was one of the 10 students who went to the academy in 1932. It was also the last batch of Indians to undergo training in England as the Indian Military Academy (IMA) was established in the same year in Dehradun.
2. He was commissioned in the Baluch Regiment at the age of 23 and saw action in Afghanistan and Burma during the world war.
After serving for one year in the British army (which was mandatory for Indians who got training in RMA), he was commissioned in the Baluch Regiment and saw active service on the North-Western Frontiers of India and in Burma where he rose to the ranks of Major. He commanded the 14th battalion of the 10th Baluch Regiment from April 1945 to April 1946.
3. He declined the offer to become Chief of Pakistani Army and instead continued to serve with the Indian Army.
During the partition of India, he was under immense pressure from the Pakistani leadership to opt for Pakistan Army. He, being a Muslim officer, was even offered the future position of Chief of Pakistani Army which he declined and continued to serve with the Indian Army. When the Baluch Regiment went to Pakistan, he was transferred to the Dogra Regiment.
4. Brigadier Mohammad Usman was given the title “Naushera ka Sher” or “The Lion of Naushera”.
In January 1948, Pakistan attacked the Naushera sector, a highly strategic location in Jammu and Kashmir. Usman fought back and repulsed the attack successfully defending the Naushera sector. Pakistan suffered heavy casualties with over 900 dead against the 33 casualties on the Indian side. Usman’s defense of Naushera earned him the title “Naushera ka Sher”.
5. Pakistan had announced a prize of Rs 50,000 on his head when their attempt to capture Naushera failed.
Pakistan was so infuriated by the way Brig Usman led his men and defended Naushera that they announced a prize of Rs 50,000 on his head, which was an astronomical amount back then.
6. He attained martyrdom on July 3, 1948, just 12 days short of his 36th birthday.
After one failed attempt, Pakistan attacked Jhangar again with heavy artillery bombardment. It was during this defense of Jhangar that Usman lost his life when a 25 pounder shell landed almost next to him. His body is interred at the campus of Jamia Milia Islamia in New Delhi.
7. His last words before he breathes his last were “I am dying, but let not the territory we are fighting for…. fall”.
8. He is India’s highest-ranking military officer (till date) to lay down his life on the battlefield.
Brig Usman was one of the only 18 Brigadiers serving in the Indian Army at the time of independence. He laid down his life fighting for the nation making him the highest ranking officer of the Indian Army to fall in the active ops.
9. He was awarded Maha Vir Chakra, India’s second highest military decoration, posthumously, for acts of conspicuous gallantry in the presence of the enemy.
10. A memorial was built on Brig Usman’s name at Jhangar, on the same rock on which the shell which took his life landed.
Our salute to the great soul who laid down his life for the motherland. He will remain an inspiration for the future generations to come!