Our history is also full of awe-inspiring stories of valour displayed by people who neither wore a uniform nor received any training. In the picture, General Cariappa is decorating Dhobi Ram Chander with Maha Vir Chakra for his bravery during J&K operations 1947-48.
He is one of the only two civilians to have been awarded the MVC, the other being, Civ Porter Mohd Ismail, a civilian labourer who volunteered to save a wounded man when a reconnaissance patrol was ambushed in the same operations.
He displayed outstanding skill in negotiating the almost impassable snow-covered slopes swept by MMG fire. By superb physical effort he got the wounded man, bundled him up in his blanket and brought him to safety.
Again on 14 September 1948, at Zojila Pass during an attack by 3 Jat, Ismail volunteered to accompany that unit as a guide. Advancing with the leading scouts in spite of close and continuous fire he guided the troops and it was only when a hidden MMG had wiped out the leading line that he fell into enemy hands and became a prisoner. On both occasions, Ismail displayed bravery, devotion to duty and disregard for personal safety.
Dhobi Ram Chander was a civilian washerman attached with an Engineers company of Madras Sappers, and was part of a convoy proceeding to Jammu under the command of Lt FDW Fallon on 18 December, 1947.
When the convoy reached Bhambla, it was ambushed by the enemy who had created a roadblock by removing the decking on a bridge. Chander helped the convoy commander to replace the decking while the bridge was under continuous fire.
The officer was wounded and Ram Chander took the officer’s rifle and helped in holding the enemy at bay and was responsible for inflicting five to six casualties on the enemy.
The convoy commander was forced to abandon his vehicle due to heavy enemy firing and in the process both he and the convoy commander got separated from the rest of the convoy.
He helped the officer, who was in a state of collapse due to loss of blood, to the nearest post which was 13 kilometres away. He refused to leave him and acted as an advance scout to see that the way was clear. His devotion to the officer was far beyond the call of duty.
Field Marshal K. M. Cariappa- His Life and Times by Brig. C. B. Khanduri
The War Decorated India and Trust
‘Decorated washerman waited for promised land till his last breath’ by The Tribune