On hearing the sentry’s alarm, troops rushed into their bunkers, expecting another round of deadly enemy barrage. Looking through the loop-holes, they were surprised to see the figure of a small boy, 10 or 11 years old, splashing through the river towards them. Field telephones were rapidly cranked and before the little boy had waded across the river, reports of this most unexpected event was flashed up the ladder from the company and battalion headquarters, right through to Jas. Jas instructed the troops to hold their fire and guide the boy through the mine-field adjacent to the river. The Platoon Commander, followed by some soldiers, climbed to the top of the ‘bund’. They stood in full view of the Paki defences across the river and shouted directions to the child, on how to negotiate the minefield. A wrong step here or there could have blown up the child or maimed him. Laboriously, as if in a daze, the child followed the instructions with hesitating steps. Soon the child arrived at the bunker’s entrance. He was dressed in a dark-grey coloured kurta-pyjama suit and had his pyjamas rolled up to his thighs. He seemed quite unperturbed though he had a serious expression on his face. He was made to sit under a large tree and gently questioned by the Platoon Commander. In Punjabi, the boy gave his name as Yusuf Mohammad and said he belonged to the large village across the river. When asked where he was going, he shyly related that his father had been extremely annoyed to see his poor Class IV results. He had scolded the boy volubly and even told him to leave the house. Disgusted with his father’s shouting, Yusuf had left the house and walked towards the fields adjoining the village. He had continued to walk through the fields, crossed the river and wandered into the Indian Army Post.
‘Hopefully back at home with his ruddy parents’, Jas informed him, matter-of-fact.
Soon the information was relayed back from one DGMO to the other.
Jas cranked the field telephone, got across to his Brigade Major (BM) and ordered 100 rounds of retaliatory fire with the heaviest calibre artillery weapons that he possessed. It was not for him to reason why Pakis and Indians fought continuously, but to do and die. An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. But Yusuf, well he was not an enemy. He was a young child just like all children, the future of Paki. Jas hoped that one day Yusuf would grow old enough and be a better man, perhaps help stop the madness and bloodshed that still continues on the LoC.
As my best friend for 53 yrs, Jas continues to inspire me, ………. daily.