Army pays tribute to Naik Saif Ali Janjua on martyrdom anniversary

Nishan-e-Haider recipient valiantly repulsed repeated Indian attacks in 1948, says ISPR


Our Correspondent October 26, 2021
Naik Saif Ali Janjua Shaheed. PHOTO: ISPR/FILE

ISLAMABAD:

The Pakistan Army has paid tribute to Naik Saif Ali Janjua on the 73rd martyrdom anniversary, saying he “valiantly” repulsed Indian forces attacks and fought till his last breath.

“On 73rd Shahadat [martyrdom] Anniversary; Nation pays tribute to gallantry of Naik Saif Ali Janjua Shaheed, NH [Nishan-i-Haider], who valiantly defended vital Pir Kaleva Ridge against repeated Indian attacks in 1948. He led his men with conviction to fight till end while ensuring defence of motherland,” the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a tweet late Monday.

Naik Saif Ali of the 18 Azad Kashmir Regiment, son of Malik Muhammad Masoom Khan, was born in Tehsil Nakial of Kotli in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and embraced martyrdom at the age of 25 in Pir Kalewa, Mendhar Sector of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).

He had joined the Royal Corps of the British Indian Army as a sepoy on March 18, 1941. He served overseas for four years during World War II.

When the war ended, his unit sailed back to the subcontinent and remained stationed at Jalandhar and Lahore.

On January 1, 1948, the Haidri Force was raised to battalion strength and named as Sher-e-Riasti Battalion under the command of Lt Col Muhammad Sher Khan.

Later, during the reorganisation phase of the Azad Kashmir Regular Forces (AKRF), Sher-e-Riasti Battalion‖ was designated as 18 Azad Kashmir Battalion.

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Saif Ali Janjua showed exceptional leadership qualities, and was promoted as a Naik, well before his time and appointed as platoon commander — an appointment normally given to officers or junior commissioned officers.

When the Indian forces after landing in Srinagar on October 27, 1947, advanced with the intention to capture the whole of Kashmir, the Sher-e-Riasti Battalion (18AK) of the Pakistan Army defended the area with their blood.

During this period of reorganisation of freedom fighters, a major Indian offensive supported by armour, artillery, and airforce to establish link-up with Poonch was gaining momentum in Mendhar Sector.

A platoon of the Sher-e-Riasti Battalion‖, commanded by Naik Saif Ali Janjua, was deployed on the dominant Pir Kalewa feature.

The Indians attacked with 5 and 19 Brigade at Pir Kalewa on October 20, 1948 but these attempts were repulsed every time.

On the night of October 25-26, 1948, an Indian attack by the 5 Brigade Group with armour in support and occasional airstrikes commenced.

Naik Saif ordered his platoon to engage the assaulting troops with all available firepower. He led his men gallantly and continued shouting slogans of encouragement while also passing instructions.

Meanwhile, a complete section had suffered heavy casualties, but Naik Saif single-handedly held the position until the arrival of reinforcements.

He himself took over the Bren gun and started effectively engaging advancing enemy soldiers from an open place.

Four Indian attempts against Pir Kalewa post had also been repulsed.

Naik Saif suffered heavy loss of blood from his wounds; however, he dragged himself around to collect ammunition from the dead and wounded and distributed it personally to the surviving soldiers.

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He was reorganising and repositioning his surviving men to face another fresh wave of enemy assault, which was preceded by even heavier and intense artillery shelling when an artillery shell hit him fatally.

The Indians could not succeed in capturing the post despite heavy losses due to the bravery of Naik Saif. Due to the severe injuries, he embraced martyrdom on October 26, 1948.

While acting as a platoon commander, he set personal examples in gallantry and inflicted heavy losses on the enemy.

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