Famous author, historian and thinker CLR James once wrote, “A national Hero must have a nation. The nation as it was could do nothing for the national hero except applaud.”
What he wrote was about a national hero and inability of a nation to do anything but applaud for the hero. He was living in Caribbean. In India we have a different experience.
Yesterday, when I was at the Jamia Millia Islamia Graveyard to pay homage to several freedom fighters who lay buried there my heart sank at what I witnessed. What I saw made me think that if CLR James had been an Indian he must have written, “The nation as it was could do nothing for the national hero except revile.”
There laid the broken epitaph of Brigadier Muhammad Usman.
The grave of ‘Naushera ka Sher’ was damaged by some miscreants and nobody cared to even notice that.
For those, who have little idea of India’s National Heritage his importance could be reflected by a simple fact that Brigadier is the only Indian soldiers whose funeral was done with full state honours where PM Jawahar Lal Nehru, President Dr Rajendra Prasad, Governor General C. Rajagopalachari, and many other cabinet ministers were present at the graveyard. Funeral Prayer (Namaz E Janaza) Of Brig Usman was Led by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad.
He is the only Indian soldier ever on whose head Pakistan Government put a prize money. Pakistan announced a prize of Rs. 50,000 to kill him which they successfully did on 3rd July, 1948 but not before he was already a national hero. Even before his martyrdom he had become a part of popular folklore for his bravery and compassion in Naushera. He was the senior most officer to lay his life during the 1947 – 48 war.
As a nation what we have returned is a defaced grave of a national hero.