Monday, December 5, 2011

Imtiaz Begum - The brave daughter of Pakistan

Today the Ummah is observing Yaum-Aashoora 1433H, and remembering the bravery and sacrifices of Shuhada-e-Karbala (Martyrs of Karbala), peace be upon them. This month also marks the fortieth (40) year after the fall of Dhaka and we shall remember the brave and gallant deeds of the men and women of Pakistan, who followed the path of Shuhda-e-Karbala, and raised Shahadah (Martyrdom) for defending the homeland. We shall pay homage to those Shuhada (Martyrs), who are now lying in unmarked graves in and around Hilli (Now a foreign land, if not an enemy land) and hope it will provide some solace and satisfaction to the relations of those Shuhada-e-Hilli (Martyrs of Hilli).

Especially I want to pay tribute to a brave daughter of Pakistan - Imtiaz Begum Shaheed, who killed twenty-six (26) invading Indian Soldiers in the battle, after the Shahadah of her husband Major Muhammad Hussain Awan.

Importantly, there were no Pakistani War Correspondents in East Pakistan and a very few Pakistani Officer who participated in the battle have narrated or published their accounts.

During the Indo-Pak War of 1971, the 4th FF Regiment, which Major Muhammad Akram Awan commanded, was placed in the forward area of the Hilli district, East Pakistan. The regiment came under continuous and heavy air, artillery and armour attacks from the 20th Indian Mountain Division.

The main objective of the Indian Army was to control Bogra, thereby cutting off Pakistan forces in the north from the rest of East Pakistan. The best way of getting to Bogra was through Hilli. The frontal assault on the Pakistan fortifications took a huge toll on the Indian Army.

For an entire fortnight, despite enemy superiority in both numbers and fire power, the 4th FF Regiment and their "Families" repulsed every attack, inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy. A time came, when all the Officers raised Shahadah and a Subaydar Gul Muhammad took control.

A time also came, when all the armed men raised Shahadah (i.e. including Major Muhammad Hussain Awan), and Imtiaz Begum, wife of Major Muhammad Hussain Awan and a mother of two minor girls, took charge and killed twenty-six (26) invading Indian Soldiers. Imtiaz Begum raised Shahadah at about two-hundred (200) yards away from her husband's site of Shahadah. She was only twenty-four (24) at that time, and both husband and wife belonged to District Chakwal, Punjab, Pakistan. Their daughters were sent to Pakistan (West Pakistan) via Burma.

Indeed she was the bravest daughter of Pakistani soil. And she deserves to be bestowed with Pakistan's Highest Civil Award, Sitara-e-Imtiaz.

This battle was unique in that it had started before the official start of the India Pakistan war but continued even after the formal surrender of Pakistan.

Today, the local Bengalies visit the graves of Shuhada-e-Hilli, and pray to Allah for blessing them with such brave children. A few recognized Shuhada-e-Hilli are as follows

Rank Name Army No Unit PMA Course Date of Commision Date of Shahadah
Major Muhammad Akram Awan PA6831 4th FF 28th 13th October 1963 15th December 1971
Major Muhammad Hussain Awan PA6785 Punjab

Imtiaz Begum w/o Major Muhammad Hussain Awan

Major Sabir Kamal Mehr PA6485 13th FF 25th 22nd April1962 16th December 1971
Major Kazim Kamal b/o Admiral Tariq Kamal PA5656 SSG

Sub Gul Muhammad
4th FF

Captain Muhammad Saeed
Inspector Bostan Khan
Sindh Police

Shall the Government of Pakistan bring back the remains of Shuhada-e-Hilli to their homeland and bury them with full honors or let them rest in peace in Bangladesh? It should also be consider that, after all, they raised Shahadah in East Pakistan, prior to the creation of Bangladesh, so they may still be resting in peace in his beloved homeland?

Special thanks to:
Late Dr Malik Muhammad Shah (Late), Secretary General, Africa Pakistan Economic Cooperation

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