Protecting Jaisalmer from Pakistani Intruders / Alacrity of a Maharaja and Nobility of Another

Pakistan Invasion of Jaisalmer in 1948

The alacrity of a maharaja and nobility of another. And it’s not even a century old.

Late on the night of 24 February 1948, Maharaja Hanwant Singh of Jodhpur received a telegram sent by Maharajkumar Girdhari Singh of Jaisalmer, apprising him of the intelligence received by him. The telegram read:

upward of 500 intruders from Bahawalpur have entered the country and have reached Dewa, about 24 miles from Jaisalmer, looting livestock and devastating the settlements en route. Succour solicited from Jodhpur to immediately deploy aircraft, trucks or other means to contain the advancement of the enemy.

Maharaja Hanwant Singh immediately called his prime minister, commanders of state military and police forces; consulted with them on the situation and issued instant orders to deploy Jodhpur Lancers and other forces to counter the enemy, moving them in trucks and jeeps, along with means of communication like wireless sets etc to Jaisalmer; declare emergency condition in the state; to seize temporarily all transport vehicles for state usage; defer fueling of private vehicles by petrol pumps. He informed the defense minister Sardar Baldev Singh in the interim government of India about the invasion and the immediate measures undertaken by him to cope with the menace.

Maharaja Hanwant Singh also ordered one of his airplanes to fly to Dewa to report the status of advance by the enemy, and another one to bring Jaisalmer royal family to Jodhpur for safety. The latter task was assigned to the commander of Maharaja’s bodyguard force Durga Horse, Col Mohan Singh Bhati.

When Col Mohan Singh conveyed the message of Jodhpur Maharaja to Maharawal Jawahar Singh to come to Jodhpur along with his family and valuables for safety; the Maharawal replied:

I will be with my countrymen in such perilous times. It will be cowardice to depart, leaving them to face invaders. I shall not impart this slur to my illustrious race. Tell your Maharaja to send military aid. We shall prefer to die fighting the foe rather than leaving Jaisalmer.

A sortie to monitor the movement of intruders frightened them and they began the quick retreat, leaving all the animals, fearing an air attack. By the time personnel from Jodhpur arrived through surface transportation, the intruders were well within their homeland.

Source: Picked from late Onkar Singh Babra’s “Ek Maharaja ki Antarkatha”
Post by: MP Singh