Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
Kashmir’s tourist hub of Tangmarg-Gulmarg in the north-western area of Baramulla district, where unidentified terrorists gunned down head constable Ghulam Mohammad Dar on Tuesday, 31 October, enjoys an unparalleled distinction of civilian service to the Indian nation.
The 55-year-old Policeman, whose eldest daughter is engaged to a local soldier of the Indian Army and whose three daughters are students of Army’s Goodwill School in the neighbourhood, is the umpteenth resident shot dead without explanation since the outbreak 0f insurgency in 1989.
Among the first killed in Tangmarg was Mohammad Deen Jagir, a local Gujjar who got a Padma Shree award for failing Pakistan’s ‘Operation Gibraltar’ in 1965.
Operation Gibraltar was the codename of a military operation planned and executed by the Pakistan Army in the territory of Jammu and Kashmir, in August 1965. Its strategy included secret infiltration of around 30,000 well-trained and well-armed guerrilla soldiers who would generate an uprising against the Indian control in the Kashmiri Muslim population and serve as Pakistan's casus belli against India on the international stage.
Pakistan's leadership specifically chose this name to draw a parallel to the Muslim conquest of Portugal and Spain that was launched from the port of Gibraltar.
In August 1965, the Pakistani troops disguised as locals intruded into the valley. While they were establishing bases over Gulmarg, Jagir passed on the vital information of their movement to the Police and security forces that swung into action and foiled the invasion. It triggered an Indo-Pakistan war, culminating in Pakistan’s second defeat.
In the words of retired Pakistani General Akhtar Hussain Malik, the aim of Operation Gibraltar was "to de-freeze the Kashmir problem, weaken Indian resolve, and bring India to the conference table without provoking general war”. It went awry as the planners failed to factor in the existence of patriots like Jagir across the valley.
Mohammad Deen Chichi Jagir, an illiterate Gujjar youth of Darakasi village in Tangmarg, had gone to check on his herd in Tosa Maidan meadow when he was intercepted by a group of guerrillas. He won their trust and they asked him to buy ‘pherans’ (Kashmiri dress) and Kashmiri caps for them.
Instead of going to the market at Tangmarg, Mohammad Deen Chichi Jagir approached the Police and told them about the intruders.
Indian soldiers in Poonch during the 1965 war
After the war ensuing war between India and Pakistan ended, Chief Minister Ghulam Mohammad Sadiq recommended the young Jagir for Padma Shri -India’s fourth highest civilian award -for his “great social work”.
After the Padma awards were constituted in 1954, Sonam Norbo (Civil Service: 1961), of the Ladakh region, which was then part of the J&K, was the first recipient of the Padma award from the State. In 1966, Jagir was only the second from J&K and the first from Kashmir. He scripted history as he shared the honour with celebrated scientists, artists, and litterateurs like Prof Satish Dhawan and Maqbool Fida Hussain.
Later, when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi asked Jagir about his two top wishes which she would fulfill in recognition of his service to the nation, he mentioned “a two-band Philips radio”. As Mrs Gandhi, according to his relatives and some senior Congress leaders, asked him about his second wish, Jagir said that he wanted to marry a rich fellow villager’s daughter, Reshma, but her father was firmly against the proposal of giving her hand to a poor man.
Within weeks, according to the residents, the local Tehsildar, presumably on the instructions from the PM to the Chief Secretary and Deputy Commissioner of Baramulla approached Reshma’s parents and successfully motivated them for her union with the Padma awardee Jagir.
Reshma, according to the family relatives, was the Tangmarg area’s prettiest damsel. Several top government functionaries and politicians attended Jagir’s wedding in 1966.
Jagir and Reshma raised their family and lived a happy life till the current phase of the armed insurgency erupted in 1989. Retired judge Neelkant Ganjoo, who had pronounced the death sentence to the JKLF founder Maqbool Bhat in a murder case, was the first victim of the revenge killings. He was shot dead at Hari Singh High Street of Srinagar when he was walking out of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court on 4 November 1989.
Months later Jagir was gunned down in Tangmarg, apparently for his act of disclosing the movement and plan of the actors of ‘Operation Gibraltar’ to the Police in 1965.
Notwithstanding his physical extermination, Mohammad Deen Jagir stands at the top of Jammu and Kashmir’s Padma Shree awardees.
The year-2010 Padma Shree award went to litterateurs Prof Hamidi Kashmiri and Jatinder Udhampuri along with Ghulam Mohammad Mir alias Moma Kanna of Magam-Tangmarg belt for his daring act of getting some high-profile hostages released from the captivity of militants.