Major Malik Munawar Khan Awan Tamgha-e-Basalat, Sitara-e-Jurat: The conqueror and the king of Rajouri

Sunday, Sep 04, 2022

The marvel started from a race by British Commanding Officer which Munawar won as a child patronized by the British as a great athlete they sent him to Indian Military Academy Dehradun in 1940.

Joined 1/14th Punjab deployed at Rangoon. After the fall of Rangoon he was captured by Japanese alongwith his fellow soldiers. In prison, Lieutenant Munawar quickly picked up Japanese language and even Japanese saw the potential in young lad. He was taken out of prison, enrolled in Imperial Japanese Army and they gave him training of Special Forces. But after the exchange of prisoners Lieutenant Munawar was handed over to British Indian Army alongwith other prisoners of War.

Soon after release Lieutenant Munawar rebelled against the British Crown alongwith few other Muslim, Hindu and Sikh Officers and joined Indian National Army (INA) movement of Subhash Chandra Bhosh and fought against British Troops commanding 1st Battalion of 2nd Guerilla Regiment of INA. He fiercely fought against the Allied forces in Battle of Imphal, inflicted heavy causalities of men & material but was later captured by the Allied forces.

Captain Munawar was put on death sentence for his defiance of the British Crown but with the partition of Sub Continent, he was free to cross over to a new homeland Pakistan. On the invitation of Mohtrama Fatima Jinnah and Liaqat Ali Khan on behest of Quaid-i-Azam, he was re inducted in Pak Army and joined 21 AK Regiment. He fought 1948 Kashmir War and won 2nd highest non-operational award “Ghazi-e-Kashmir “(now known as Tamgha-e-Basalat).

In 1964, he suffered a mild heart attack that sealed his chances for promotion. Even with ailing health, he was called upon in May 1965, to be part of Operation Gibraltar. He was given Command of Ghaznavi Force to infiltrate Rajouri and Poonch valleys. Major Munawar alongwith his under command brave officers and soldiers were the only force out of ten other forces which successfully infiltrated in to occupied Kashmir. He occupied two thousand square miles area of Rajouri and Poonch Valleys including a major Indian Garrison of Rajouri & Rajouri city, housing Headquarters of Indian Army’s 25th Infantry Division and two reserve Indian Infantry Brigades.

During his two months stay in occupied Kashmir, he wiped off seven Indian Infantry Battalions during seventeen Battles/Encounters with Indian Army. He established his own Government, appointed his own DC, SP, Judges and other administrative staff and hoisted Pakistani Flag on all official buildings of captured areas till Cease Fire. It was the capture of this vast area by Major Munawar Khan that served as the basis of Operation Grand Slam to capture Akhnor, adjacent to Rajouri and thus cutting India from rest of Kashmir.

Major Munawar withdrew back to AK after the firm orders of GHQ with a heavy heart and protest against the orders. The area was to be vacated as a result of bargain between Pakistan and India which took place in UN Security Council. Major Munawar was recommended for Nishan-e-Haider by his General Officer Commanding but was awarded “Sitara-e-Jurat” for his extra ordinary gallant and superbly planned actions and was also given the title of “King of Rajouri” by Field Marshal Ayub Khan. —Col (retd) Ikram Ullah