52 years after Indo-Pak war, Army veteran seeks benefits, gallantry recorded

Before approaching the Armed Forces Tribunal, the veteran soldier who retired from Army in 1978, had approached the Chief of Army Staff for recognition of his services.

Almost 52 years after late Param Veer Chakra winner Abdul Hamid destroyed Pakistani Patton tanks in the famous battle of Asal Uttar on his jeep, his "driver" in the epic battle has demanded his contribution and valour in the war to be recognised by the country and the Army.

Grenadier Mohammed Naseem, 72 has claimed before a military court almost five decades after the battle with Pakistan that he was detailed to drive the rocket launcher-mounted jeep of Hamid and he assisted him with his full ability and exemplary courage.

"I have also prayed that the outstanding performance and gallantry shown by me in the war should be recorded in his service record with all consequential benefits," Naseem, who lives in Sultanpur district of Uttar Pradesh, told Mail Today.

Before approaching the Armed Forces Tribunal, the veteran soldier who retired from Army in 1978, had approached the Chief of Army Staff for recognition of his services but his claims and plea were apparently not accepted by the force.

IF CLAIMS TRUE, APPLICANT TO BE AWARDED SUITABLY: BENCH

To support his claim, Naseem had attached a certificate issued to him by a former unit officer but that was not accepted as a proof as it was issued only in 2012, almost 50 years after the war. The military court bench headed by justice DP Singh and Air Marshal Anil Chopra also took a sympathetic view of the plea condoning the huge delay in filing of the petition by Naseem.

"There appears to be delay, but the fact remains that in case the respondents find applicant's work and conduct and entitlement with regard to gallantry and outstanding performance shown by him in Indo-Pak war, then it shall be life-time achievement for him and he may be benefitted throughout his life," the court said.

The court said the unit commander of Naseem is still alive and the Army should investigate the claims made by the soldier for recognition of his efforts and valour. "It shall be appropriate to the respondents to hold a fact finding inquiry after recording statements of persons who are surviving at the present and participated in the Indo-Pak war as a member of the unit of late Abdul Hamid and submit a report," the court said in its directions to the Army.

The legendary battle of Asal Uttar started on September 8 in 1965 when Pakistan's 1 Armoured Division, with some 200 Patton tanks, invaded Punjab and captured the border town of Khemkaran. The Indians flooded the sugarcane fields in border town with water and took position behind the plants.

Thanks to the flooded fields, the Pakistani tanks were trapped in Mahmudpura and became sitting ducks for the Indian tanks and recoilless guns. It was in one such field that Abdul Hamid along with his driver Mohammed Naseem and two others had taken position in a RCL jeep and turned the area into a graveyard of the Pakistani tanks.

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