REMEMBERING OUR WARRIORS

A HERO of the Kashmir War of Liberation
Col (Retd) MUhammad Azam Khan SJ, (Fakre Kashmir)

The War of Liberation in Kashmir has given birth to immortal heroes, each one a legend in his own right. Lack of resources, uncertain conditions, numerical superiority of the enemy have never hindered the liberation struggle. The freedom struggle commencing in 1947-48 and its continuation to-date is a chronology of heroic deeds/achievements have become an integral part of our contemporary history, an analysis/study of the deeds of valour of these Kashmiri heroes is a beacon light for the new generation of Mujahideen, one such immortal hero is Col (r) Mohammad Azam Khan whose struggle for the liberation of Kashmir became a lifelong mission until his death on 02 April 2002. For his achievements he was awarded Sitara Jurat (Fakhre Kashmir).
Col (Retd) Mohammad Azam Khan was born in March 1915 in village Panjiri in a family steeped in military traditions/service, he did his Intermediate from Zameendara College Gujrat and graduation from Prince of Wales College Jammu. After graduation he joined the Maharajas State Forces in 1936 and later earned a Commission in 4th Jammu and Kashmir Infantry Battalion in 1938. During 1947, the Battalion was stationed at Muzaffarabad and was being commanded by Col Narain Singh, it comprised of the following companies deployed in Kohala-Muzaffarabad axis:-
‘A’ Coy Commander Lt Lahab Singh, surrounding areas of Kohala Bridge.
‘B’ Coy Kupwara (Baramula) covering Sunda Gali and Titwal Sector. (Class composition: Musalmans).
‘C’ Coy Commander Capt Mohammad Azam Khan deployed at Kohala Bridge (Class composition: Musalmans).
‘D’ Coy Commanded by Capt Ghazanfar Ali Shah, deployed at Bararkort Checkpost for defending Garhi Habibullah feature.
During ‘C’ Company’s deployment at Kohala Bridge, the CO of the regiment suspected Capt Mohammad Azam Khan’s loyalties and redeployed the Coy at Muzaffarabad. Some of the contributions attributed by local Kashmiri writers to Col Mohammad Azam Khan are:
a. Assistance to the Sultan of Boi in 1947.
b. Collaboration with Khan Aslam Khan, Syed Ameer Ali Shah (Both Police officers) and Major Khurshid Anwar (Liberation Force).
Col Mohammad Azam Khan provided the following information of strategic value to them:
a. Troop Deployment/Movements in and around Muzaffarabad.
b. Location of Ammunition Dumps/storage in Sikh Gurdawaras and Hindu temples.
c. Planning and coordination for the destruction of Road Bridges on River Jhelum and Kishan Ganga.
In addition to assisting the aforementioned, Col Mohammad Azam Khan also supplied secret and strategic information to Col Khanzada Taj Mohammad, DSO and Col Riaz.

  • Troop deployment/ORBAT of State Forces (Maharja’s Army).
  • Morale of the Musalman Sepoys and covert support for the libera- tion struggle.
  • Strategic troop concentration, deployment and communication between them.
  • Maps of Badami Bagh Cantonment and deployment of guards/troops.

In October 1947 during the initial launch of the liberation struggle Capt Mohammad Afzal Khan of 2nd Kashmir Battalion contacted Col Mohammad Azam Khan to seek his active support for future strategy and guidance for the liberation struggle. Col Mohammad Khan told him that for the moment he would provide all the covert support to the Mujahideen elements by using his position and powers vested in him by the State. He facilitated the supply and storage of arms, ammunition and clothing to the Mujahideen, also enabled them to infiltrate/spread upto the junction of Kaghan and Jhelum Rivers and areas bordering Pakistan.
On 17 Oct 1947 Col Mohammad Azam Khan requested the Sultan of Boi to arrange his meeting with Commander of the Liberation Force, Maj Khurshid Anwar. The meeting materialized on night 21/22 Oct at the Col’s HQs where Maj Khurshid was briefed regarding the Dogra Army’s strategy and was presented with a few Brenguns as a gift, was also assured of the Col’s continued covert cooperation.
On 24 Oct 1947 Col organized and deployed a few elements of Mujahideen which later swelled into Battalion strength, he was actively assisted by Maj Mohammad Aslam, who was later deployed at a Bridge near Domeli camp.
‘C’ Company, commanded by Capt Mohammad Azam Khan was detailed for attack on Baramula on 26 Oct 1947, and en route came across Maj Khurshid Anwar (KLF) and Maj Mohammad Aslam Khan at Pattan. At this junction the Coy joined the freedom struggle and fought defensive actions against the Dogra Forces at this salient. During the ensuing period, one of the company under Fakhre Kashmir command reached Uri via Poonch and demarcated the Line of Control (LoC), in the meantime formation of the State of Azad Jammu and Kashmir was announced and Sardar Mohammed Ibrahim was named as the first President. By now the ‘C’ Coy strength under Capt Mohammad Azam Khan had swelled to Battalion strength and they took part in the pushing back of Indian forces from Pattan upto Srinagar. The Battalion strength comprised of elements of Qabaili Force, Frontier Constabulary, Punjab Ex-Servicemen and Punjab Police etc. This force advanced to within five miles of Srinagar, but was held up due to IAF action and lack of explicit orders.
In Nov 1947 Capt Mohammad Azam Khan along with a few Mujahideen groups reached “GORWOKL” Faizabad, Rawalpindi, here they were joined by Dir State Forces (Commanded by Jan Mohammad). After organizing themselves into a homogenous force they were detailed to liberate Mirpur which they successfully undertook under the command of Capt Mohammad Azam Khan. After the expulsion of the Dogra Army from Mirpur, the above Force under its able son of the soil undertook the liberation of Mangla Fort and safe passage to the besieged Dogra troops and their families on the personal intervention of MAK.
On 16 July 1948 Col Mohammad Azam Khan along with his irregular Force, 7 AK Battalion, was to take part in an attack on Nowshera, the overall operation was being commanded by Gen Baig. The 7 Ak Battalion was detailed to capture village Kalal (Four kilometers south of Nowshera), enemy deployment was concentrated on Nowshera-Jhangar, Nowshera-Baripatan, they were deployed in concrete bunkers in strong defensive positions, equipped with automatic weapons and active air support from IAF.
Col Mohammad Azam Khan launched his attack at 0500 hrs on 16 April 1948 against the Indians and by 1300 hrs the enemy was forced to withdraw. The Battalion remained in occupation of the feature till the following day until further orders. For this daredevil action the Col was awarded the Sitara Jurat (Fakhre Kashmir) by Gen Baig.
After the liberation war of 1947-48 Col Mohammad Azam Khan served in 10 AK Regiment, 1AK Regiment, 5 AK Regiment and was posted as Commandant AK Regimental Centre on 28 Dec 1964, where he remained till his retirement on 16 Nov 1968. During his long and illustrious career in the Army, he was one of the first Azad Kashmir Regular Force (AFRF) officers to attend Staff College at Quetta, he had the unique honour of being known personally to FM Ayub Khan. Gen Moosa Khan, Gen Adam Khan (12 Div), Gen Akhtar Malik (during 1965 war and supplying him with intelligence regarding deployment of Indian Armour and capture of Brigade Ops maps).
The services of Col Mohammad Azam Khan to the Pakistan Army during its formative years and the liberation war in Kashmir are an integral part of our history. His zest for freedom of his motherland from the clutches of the Indians is being carried forth by his children, amongst whom three of them joined the Armed Forces and one is presently a serving Brigadier, in the Pakistan Army.

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