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SOURCE: THE HINDU

After it came to light that the grave of “Naushera ka Sher” Brigadier Mohammad Usman, the seniormost officer who was killed in the first India-Pakistan war of 1947-48, was damaged, an Army source said it was looking into the issue and the grave will be restored soon. The grave is located inside the Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) University campus.

“It is not our responsibility, and this is inside the University campus. However, having come to know of the incident, we took proactive action,” the source said on Monday. “It has been discussed and will be restored soon,” he added.

The responsibility for graves of martyrs is not the responsibility of the Army and is usually taken care of by the families, the source said. However, he added that every year, a wreath is laid at Brig. Usman’s grave during which it is cleaned up.

Brig. Usman was one of only 18 Brigadiers in the Army at the time of Independence and was posthumously awarded the Maha Vir Chakra for his gallant action during the 1947-48 war.

Turf war

When contacted, officials of the JMI said while the graveyard belonged to the varsity, maintenance of the respective graves was not under its purview. A JMI official on condition of anonymity said the responsibility of maintaining the graves lay with the respective families and the University’s horticulture department took care of only the grounds and boundary walls.

Professor Iqtidar Mohd. Khan of the Department of Islamic Studies added, “While the land belongs to Jamia, the graves don’t and hence maintenance and repair work of the graves is not the University’s responsibility. One would need a budget for maintenance all the graves which the University does not have. The graves are taken care of by the families and in this case by the Defence (Ministry).”

Mr. Khan also said those who were responsible for maintenance of the graves were required to approach the Registrar for permission to carry out the repair work.

“Every year Defence officials come for the maintenance. However this year maybe they could not come due to the corona virus pandemic. However, following reports of this incident, an officer visited the site today for an inspection. We have informed them about the procedure and that a formal letter has to be sent to the University for permission to be granted,” said Mr. Khan.

According to the portal “heritagetimes.in” which wrote about the damage to the grave my miscreants, Brig. Usman is the “only Indian soldier whose funeral was done with full state honours where Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru, President Dr Rajendra Prasad, Governor General C. Rajagopalachari, and many other Cabinet ministers were present.” The funeral prayer was led by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad.