Mehr Ali Baig
Liberation of Gilgit Baltistan (1948) from Dogra Raj was not less than a miracle. Despite having meager resources, the proud sons of the soil (troops of Gilgit Scouts) over whelmingly pressed against the Kashmir’s Dogra Regime and liberated 28000 square miles of Gilgit Baltistan Region. The drive leading to a successful revolt and subsequently annexing the region with Pakistan could not have been possible without the leading role of five VCOs (Viceroy Commissioned Officers), guided / assisted by the then Commandant Gilgit Scouts Major Brown.
Subedar Safiullah Baig was performing as education VCO at that time and he took a pivotal role in over throwing the yoke of Kashmir’s Dogra Regime. He was one of the five founding Junior Commissioned Officers who wrote and took oath on the Holy Quran when starting the Gilgit Baltistan War of Liberation. He was the one who wrote the “Historic Testament” with his own hands. Subedar Safiullah Baig served in Corps of Gilgit Scouts from 1935 to 1951 (almost 17 years of meritorious services) as Viceroy Commissioned Officer and then as Junior Commissioned Officer (1948 -1951).
His citation-written by Ex Captain Mohammad Babar Khan SJ (Last S.M of Gilgit Scouts) and the then Captain Mohammad Shah Khan (Retd as Group Captain) recognized Subedar Safiullah Baig’s extra – ordinary and meritorious services during the 1948 war. It reads:-
On 10th May 1948 when Kargil was attacked for the first time, Subedar Safiullah Baig captured a very strong piquet on Khuri Bridge after inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy side. This, later on, proved very useful for subsequent operations in that area. The enemy forces in Kargil were cut off. During this time Colonel Sanquran Singh of Indian Army, who was coming from Skardu to Kargil alongwith his defense platoon, was attacked by Subedar Safiullah Baig. Inspite of inferiority of strength, he captured 24 enemy soldiers and killed many. From here, he at once advanced and blocked the way of Ladakh and Skardu due to which 500 enemy soldiers, who were in Parkuta and Tolti, could not reach Ladakh and Kargil and had to retreat through Shirting Nallah to Deosai.
On 6th September 1948 when enemy attacked with heavy strength, Safiullah Baig was Commanding two Companies at Zojila Top(Pass). During this critical period he not only exhibited devotion to duty but also raised the moral of troops commanding through his personal example. Inspite of the fact that the enemy had entered into our trenches, the men under his command fought gallantly due to his personal example, which resulted in complete rout of the enemy troops and they had to retreat with heavy casualties.
Due to exemplary services and devotion to duty I very strongly recommend Subedar Safiullah Baig for Military Cross and also recommend that he should be given command of a Wing with the rank of Lieutenant with effect from 1st September 1948.
Subedar Safiullah Baig passed away on 6th January 1996 and has been buried at “YADGAR-E-SHUHDA” Chinar Bagh Gilgit in recognition of his self-sacrificing services for liberation of Gilgit Baltistan.
People of Gilgit Baltistan had great respect and honor for their leader and recognized the velour deeds performed by Subedar Safiullah Baig. In recognition of his services for promotion of education to civil society of the region gave him the title of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan of Gilgit Baltistan.
After his military carrier and outstanding leading role during independence war, he led the civil society for providing better educational facilities and started with construction of a Boys Hostel. Ever since its inception, the institution is playing a major role facilitating students of far flung areas. Till now so many students from Hunza, Gojal, Puniyal, Ishkoman,Yasin, Gupis, Normal, Rahimabad and Oshikhandas, Sultanabad have been benefited and played their role in up lifting the area and their own families.
He also played an important role in forum “Tanzeem-i-Millat” Gilgit, for obtaining political rights during 1972 at Gilgit. He was elected as first President of “Tanzeem-i-Millat” Gilgit. The forum remained very vibrant in bringing people from all walks of life and all school of thoughts of Gilgit Baltistan yet closer. He also started with the famous cooperative society and subsidies at Gilgit which has now turned into Karakorum Cooperative Bank Gilgit Baltistan. It is worth mentioning that he was sent to Haripur Jail for complete one year due to political Turmoil at Gilgit, in which Mr Rajab of Gilgit was shot dead in a rally during 1972. It was that effort due to which FCR (Frontier Regulation Rule) was abolished by late Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Subedar Safiullah Baig also earned respect even during his imprisonment as he was appointed as religious teacherr for the prisoners.
When we see the life of Subedar Safiullah Baig, he led a very pious, neat, clean and honest life. He could not build a house/hut for himself. What ever he did, it was for his motherland, his community and for socio-pol awareness and educational advancement of the region.