Uprising Memorial


The Uprising Memorial, is a memorial to those who rose against the Maharaja in 1947. It includes the graves of the local heroes, Mohammed Babar Khan and Safiullah Beg of the Gilgit Scouts, and Mirza Hassan Khan of the Kashmir Infantry.

At Partition, many had anticipated Maharaja Hari Singh's eventual accession to India. A clique of Muslim officers in the Maharaja's own army, led by Colonel Mirza Hassan Khan, had been conspiring to seize Kashmir for Pakistan, but word had got out and Hassan was transferred to Kashmir's 'Siberia', the Bunji garrison south of Gilgit.

Meanwhile, the Gilgit Scouts' Major Mohammed Babar Khan and several fellow officers (and, according to some, their British commander) had hatched their own rebellion.

Within days of the Maharaja's decision, a mob gathered in Gilgit from neighbouring valleys. The governor called Bunji for help, and who should be among the reinforcements but Colonel Hassan. On 1 November Babar Khan arrested Governor Ghansar Singh and the rebels asked to join Pakistan.

Within a few days the Scouts, with Muslim soldiers of the Kashmiri army, joined the war with India. In the following months the Scouts took Baltistan, and Hassan got to the outskirts of Srinagar.

The fledgling Indian air force at one point bombed Gilgit, no easy task in the narrow valleys. Gilgitis like to tell the story of the Scouts' pipe band, which mocked the Indian pilots by defiantly tootling up and down the airfield the whole time.

Memories of the 'Uprising' are still alive in Gilgit. Hassan, Babar and another leader of the Gilgit Scouts, Maj Safiullah Beg, are buried in Chinar Bagh, and many of their offspring are local politicians and entrepreneurs. Of course, it's not 14 August but 1 November that Gilgit celebrates as Independence Day, with spontaneous music and dancing and a week-long polo tournament. One of the best polo teams every year is from the Gilgit garrison of the Northern Light Infantry (NLI), successor to the Gilgit Scouts.

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