The Battle of Asal Uttar and Bravery of Quarter Master Havildar Abdul Hamid

As the nation was remembering heroes of 1965 war between India and Pakistan, I chanced upon the history of Quarter Master Havildar Abdul Hamid and Indian victory at the battle of Asal Uttar. I was very young when 1965 war broke out. Those were the days when there was no internet, no mobile phone, not much connectivity and access to information was generally poor. Not many people in distant parts of the country knew much about valor of men fighting in the western frontier. I take this opportunity to write about a brave son of India, Quarter Master Havildar Abdul Hamid, and a brilliant victory for Indian army at Asal Uttar.

The term Asal Uttar means a befitting response. Such a response was given to invading Pakistani army in the battle field of Asal Uttar between 8 to 10 Sep, 1965. After capturing Khem Karan, Pakistani army’s 1st Armoured Division and 10th Infantry division were well poised to charge towards Delhi. Ist Armored division was equipped with modern Patton tank. Pakistan army was stopped in its tracks at Asal Uttar, a village south of Amritsar. If Pakistani army had won at Asal Uttar, they would march unopposed to New Delhi. At least that was the plan.

However, Major General Harbaksh Singh, GOC Mountain Division, had a different idea. General formed a horse shoe defence, with Asal Uttar at the base. Indian army in a tactically brilliant move had breached Rohi Nulla. Unaware, Ist armored divison, equipped with Patton tanks, moved into marshy sugar cane field and got trapped. Nearly 100 patton tanks were destroyed in the battle field of Asal Uttar.

Abdul Hamid had joined and served the The Grenediers Infantry Regiment till the end. He was posted at the 4th Ballalion of regiment. Abdul Hamid was promoted to Quarter Master of his battalion before the war. On 10 September 1965 Hamid saw a group of Pattons heading towards his battalion defences. Hamid moved out with his gun mounted on a jeep. In middle of intense tank fire and shelling, Hamid knocked out three Pattons one after another but was killed by tank fire from the fourth. For his bravery, Quarter Master Havildar Abdul Hamid was awarded Param Vir Chakra. 

In the memory of Quarter Master Havildar Abdul Hamid, a mausoleum was constructed on his grave by the 4th Grenadiers at Asal Uttar and each year a “mela” is organised on the date of his martyrdom. The residents of Asal Uttar have named and operate a dispensary, library and school in the village. In his honour, the Army Postal Service issued a special cover on 10 September 1979.

Havildar Abdul Hamid was born in a Muslim family at Dhamupur village of Ghazipur District of Uttar Pradesh on 1 July 1933, the son of Mohammad Usman. Havildar Abdul Hamid was married to Rasoolan Bibi.

More I read about Asal Uttar and Havildar Abdul Hamid, more I feel how fortunate we are to have such brave and selfless people guarding our borders. Abdul Hamid never gave a thought about his own safety. He worked in the middle of intense firing. If he was part of American and / or British army, certainly there would be movies made on him and shown at regular interval, so that posterity does not forget nation’s brave son. I read a TV serial was made on Havildar Abdul Hamid by Chetan Anand. Legendary Nasiruddin Shah had played the role of Abdul Hamid. Recently, I read that government is contemplating including life of Param Vir Chakra awardees as part of history curriculum for class 9 and class 10 students. This is another way to remember our heroes. The stuff legends are made of. 

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