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Role of Shridhar Kaul Dullu in Ladakh War

LATE Shridhari Kaul Dullu lived in Rainawari, a suburb of Srinagar. He was truly a renaissance figure in the contemporary history of Kashmir.

Masterji, as he was popularly called was trained to teach. He admired Buddhism and became a Buddhist by conviction. Masterji knew that Ladakh was the ancient seat of learning and culture so far as Buddhisim was concerned and also Ladakhis were simple people. When he was transferred to this desolate region as ADI schools, he didnot grumble. He felt happy. Masterji loved Ladakhis, their culture and simplicity. He created educational awareness among them and till his last days many Ladakhi students used to stay with him at Rainawari and seek his help in admissions. Ladakh’s educational and political renewal is linked with his name.

Masterji was gifted with unique insights into cultural and political processes of J&K. His magnum opus "Ladakh Through The Ages" amply reflects this. He was a good organiser for mobilising public and building public opinion on crucial issues. In May 1948, during Ladakh campaign, he prepared a report on the defence of Ladakh. Braving the inhospitable terrain of Leh-Manali track, Masterji presented this report in person to Pt Jawahar Lal Nehru, Prime Minister. So impressed was Nehru with this assessment that he prevailed upon Masterji to get in touch with Gen. Cariappa, then C in C and Sardar Baldev Singh, the Defence Minister of India.

In 1947-48 Masterji found himself in a strange role. He had an appeal cutting across communities. This aspect and his great organising abilities made him the natural choice as organiser of National Guards for the defence of Ladakh. National Guards proved a decisive factor in turning the tide of war in favour of India.

The fall of Gilgit had caused serious concern and fear among Buddhists of Ladakh. Actuely aware of the fate of non-Muslims in Skardu, Buddhists decided to raise their own defences for Leh till Indian Army could arrive.

Masterji and the President of Young Buddhist Association, Mr K Poan Chewang Rigzin played a crucial role in this. They prevailed upon the emergency administration at Srinagar to take immediate steps for organising local people in a militia, irrespective of religious affiliation as National Guards. Fortunately DP Dhar was in-charge of Defence of Frontier. He had keen understanding of the frontier security and wasted no time in getting immediate State government clearance. Wazir was directed to take necessary steps to implement this scheme and the Garrison commander at Leh was ordered to train the recruits.

These orders were sabotaged at the local level by the Tehsildar, Abdul Khaliq. A native of Skardu, Khaliq was alleged to be highly sectarian and a Muslim League backer. He tried to give it a sectarian colour. Subsequently the State government appointed Masterji as organiser of National Guards.

Masterji in this mission toured extensively all over Ladakh impressing upon the people to enrol themselves as National Guards. He asked the people to realise the perilous situation and undergo necessary arms training to inflict heavy punishment on the enemy. Initially people were slow to react.

Masterji utilised festival occasions to enroll them. His efforts soon bore fruit. In few weeks he raised about 500 volunteers. In the first week, fifty volunteers underwent arms training. Masterji’s persuasive skills saw even Muslims joining National Guards  in the Ladakh countryside.

While the campaigning of recruitment was in full swing, the legendary Ladakh campaign hero, Lt Col Prithvi Chand and his able assistant Jamadar Bhim Chand reached Leh. They had come to train the National Guards recruits.

Their timely arrival infused new hope into the hearts of defenders of Leh.

The persistent pressures of the Buddhist leadership and the personal efforts of Masterji in Delhi saw more military reinforcements reaching Leh. 2/8 Gorkhas, numbering 150 came via Leh-Manali route. It was Masterji who as organiser of National Guards arranged transport, food and looked after other logistics of this detachment.

It was Masterji’s decision to shift the headquarters of the administration to Martselang, a village 25 miles south of Leh. This was to ensure its security. In those uncertain days Masterji’s presence in Leh had became synonymous with high morale of the people. Whenever he stepped out of Leh suddenly, serious misgivings would arise among the people. A community hall in Leh stands in his memory.

We reproduce below here the note which Pt. Sridhar presented to Pt. JL Nehru Prime Minister of India. The note is an ample testimony of  Master Ji’s grasp of the situation in Ladakh.

Source: Kashmir Sentinel

Pakistan's Role

Kargil 1999

 

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