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Remembering the Lion of Naushera

Brigadier Mohammed Usman.

A familiarly unfamiliar name. You have heard it before, you are sure, but can't really recollect...

Traverse back to year 1948. Think of the Partition and the immediate aftermath. Think of Kashmir -- the unprotected, unfenced, vulnerable valley of then, open to the attacks of invading Pakistani forces.

Think particularly of India's fight to get back Naushera and Jhangar from the marauders. Think of that brave figure, that Muslim figure, who, at 36, laid down his life fighting his religious brethren.

Tuesday, July 15, was Brigadier Usman's 85th birth anniversary. Marked, among other ways, by the release of a telefilm on his life.

The 50-minute film, Naushera Ka Sher (The Lion of Naushera), a copy of which was presented to President Shankar Dayal Sharma, has been produced by Mediamen, a group of young journalists. Directed by Ranjan Kumar Singh and Upendra Sood, it depicts Brigadier Usman's life from his college days to his death.

Shot mainly in the Kashmir valley, the film is dedicated to the martyrs of the Indian army. It chronicles the treachery of the Pakistanis who, disguised as tribals, attacked the valley on October 22, 1947, tortured men, raped women and plundered its wealth.

After the incident, Maharaja Hari Singh and Sheikh Abdullah requested the Indian government to intervene. The army, under Brigadier Usman (he was one of the 18 brigadiers it had), was sent to the valley. He led his forces into a fierce battle at Naushera, which he freed, thus earning the title of Naushera Ka Sher.

From there, he marched to Jhangar. And it was here the brave brigadier, who always remained in the front with his soldiers, was killed in a mortar attack. The film also deals with Mohammed Ali Jinnah's offer to Brigadier Usman to join the Pakistani army on promotion.


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