Tuesday, 8 February 2022

 Lt Gen Jameel Mahmood, AVSM, ADC (09 May, 1938----07 May ,1993) 

My unforgettable memory of Lt Gen Jameel Mahmood. 

I got my wings on 18 May 1976 and was posted to 659 AOP Sqn in Baghdogra. 3 months later I got married. He was a col then and commanding the Air OP Sqn. I submitted a formal application to him seeking permission to get married. He called me into his office and congratulated me. When I landed at the airport with my wife Neena, I was surprised to see all the officers and their wives along with Gen Jameel waiting to give us our most unforgettable experience of our lifetime. They all clapped and congratulated us both. Then we were escorted to a waiting Jonga with a trailer behind which had a sofa in it. We were made to sit in it. The entire group then lined up on their personal vehicles and the Jonga followed behind with a huge sign “ Just Married” on the trailer. As it started to move forward we heard a loud noise of tins from below !!!!! There were dozens of them tied to the trailer causing the sound. All the passengers who came on the flight saw it all and clapped. The motorcade then drove through all corners of Baghdogra officers camp, before it halted in from of the mess. A grand lunch was laid out. After lunch Gan Jameel asked Neena & me to follow him. He took us to a house, opened it and gave the keys and said, “ This officer is on leave for the next two months, you are welcome to use it as your own home. God bless you both”. I had tears in my eyes. I could not stop them. I knew Mrs. Jameel even before I came to Baghdogra. I knew the Zaki family since 1962. Haroon Zaki and I joined RIMC in Jan 1962. He was from Hyderabad. My father was a doctor in the Railways working in Hyderabad. He used to go every Saturday without fail, rain, shine or hail to look up Mrs. Jameel’s mother. Sit with her and check her health conditions and give medications as required. He treated her like his own mother. To this day I look up Lt Gen Zaki whenever I go to Hyderabad. On 07 Feb, 1977 the Chetak I was flying in had a spacing cable failure. Col PC Reddy was in the center seat. It is because of him I’m still alive today. Sukhi & Col PJ came and picked me from Kishanganj. The crash took place around 11:30 AM. I was picked up in the evening.Gen Jameel was still in the office waiting for me. He personally dropped me in his Jonga at my house and came up and spoke to Neena and had a cup of tea made by her. We flew together a couple of times to the helipads in Sikkim. I still recall going to Kerang, the northernmost helipad where suddenly all the mountains vanish and you don’t see an anthill for miles looking North: The Tibetan Plateau. Mrs Jameel was a great cook. We were invited for dinner as newlyweds and treated to typical Hyderabadi cuisine. On one occasion the Army Commander Eastern Command was passing through Baghdogra. He was received at the airport and a lunch was arranged in the Officer’s Mess. He came to know that the Army Commander was having a bad tummy and had requested khichdi for lunch. We all thought that we too will get khichdi for lunch. No we had the usual drinks and lavish menu laid out. He had the rare quality to make junior officers feel absolutely at his ease in his company, irrespective of their rank. And similarly he was at ease with seniors no matter what their rank was. I saw it when he was interacting with the Army Commander. He was a Colonel then, commanding 659 AOP Sqn. We can never forget the couple. Not in this lifetime. May their souls RIP. His son Brig Adil Mahmood looks like him.

Messages from Army aviators who knew Gen Jameel 

"Got these interesting pics of Lt Gen Jameel Mahmood (courtesy: his son Brig Adil Mahmood) who was in Air OP. The Gen was GOC-in-C Eastern Command. He got his wings in 1964 and later commanded 6 Air OP Flt and 659 Air Op Sqn. He passed in an IAF heptr crash in Western Bhutan in 1993. The Gen, who was also my uncle, my aunt, another uncle Col Naeemuddin Ahmed (NDA 31st course), and 7 others armed forces personnel including two IAF pilots didn't make it. The Gen was a 5th generation soldier. His father was a POW with the Japanese in WWII while in Mysore Infantry (18th Madras)". He had stopped specifically for a cup of tea along with Mrs. Jameel Mahmood in our Mess (659 R & O Sqn) in Sevoke Road, enroute from Sukhna to Bhutan. It was a Sunday. He had rung me up & spoken personally that day to say that he starting off in 15 minutes from Sukhna & wanted to meet The wife of his old BM of the Inf Bde he Commanded & was presently staying alone in Sevoke Road presently & that cold I get her to the Avn Mess for a quick cup of tea & meet up. That set the 'Cat amongst the pigeons' - Imagine the chaos of expecting an Army Cdr at real short notice in a 'Avn Mess' early morning after a Saturday Night ! No one could vouch for the general get up of the Mess, forget the standard to be fit to receive an Army Cdr ( & that too my Old Sqn Cdr in the same Sqn !). Anyway, to cut the story short, " All hands on deck" & lo behold when "The Army Cdrs Cavalcade arrived" within an hour or so, we had managed to collect 'The Lady (Old BM's wife) & receive a beaming Army Cdr with things decently in order, for his 'cup of tea'. He & Mrs Jameel met the Lady, laughed around with us and left in high spirits within 20 minutes or so, in a happy mood. He had told me he will make another trip after a month or so to Bhutan & then would like to fly by The Sqn Heptr to Bhutan. Of course destiny sadly planned otherwise... He was our senior most yo at the time of raising of 18 Field Regt in 1960 at Hyderabad under Lt Col GS Reen. He along with Dilrus made an excellent couple. Their hospitality was par excellent. Sweet memories. RIP

CeeEmm, could it have been Mrs Narinder Singh? Why I feel so is that Col Narinder of Raj Rif and I were together as DS in SC Wing, College of Combat (now War College) and he was the BM with Gen Jameel when he commanded his Bde. There could have been more than one BM, I agree but Narinder had a very interesting story to tell which gives out a great facet of Gen Jameel's persona. At a party then Brig Jameel asked Mrs Narinder, who was just a graduate, as to why she was not taking up the opportunity to do BEd as a regular student since a local college was running a one year course for BEd after graduation. The lady expressed her constraint that her son was just two years old and she couldn't leave him alone to attend college. To her utter surprise the Commander said that this was not a problem, on her way to college she should leave the child with him in his office and he would look after him. The lady demurred but the Commander would have none of it and unbelievable as it sounds, the lady was able to do her BEd and the Commander was the nanny/creche, whatever you may like to call it!! Since the whole thing was narrated by the officer, Col Narinder himself, there is no element of doubt. As per Narinder, the child was kept busy in some interesting activity with the Brig going to check maybe once every 25-30 minutes, have a bit of a play around and then leave the child on his own resources to attend to his own work. Rather a difficult thing to swallow since the Commander would have things to do outside his office quite frequently but knowing Gen Jameel, he would have innovated a solution. When he took over 659, I was in the process of moving 17 Flt ground party by train as OIC Train and then was fortunate to have him first as my DS in the first tutorial at DSSC and then as my SI Div on promotion to Col(this was in 1980 when DS were Lt Cols and SI full Cols). Fortunately, had a good equation with him and kept running into him during service, more so when he came as ADG Army Aviation in 1991, got promoted to Lt Gen and stayed as DG for a short while before going as 4 Corps Cdr and then moving as Eastern Army Commander. His younger brother, Maj Gen Sultan Mahmood was my MG Arty during my stay at Raiwala as CArty and had number of exchanges about the late elder brother. The General was a great man and God pulled him away since He needs good men around Him. Sorry for this long tale, regards, Bimbo.

An excellent human. Flew him extensively ex TRINCOMALEE as GOC 36. While we were flying 6avuniya to trinco , he carried a cas in his lap in chetak rear seats. Then flew him in SIKKIM BHUTAN as Eastern Army Cdr. Before the heptr crash , we did 3 days op recce in Bhutan. Flew his and the COMD HQ mortal remains ex Haa Dzong to Hashimara For 659 Raising Day my wife took help of Cheetah Flight Manual to bake a cake depicting a replica of a heptr . Over 3 feet long with skids, tail boom , fuel tank rotors all to scale. I have very fond memories of late Gen & Mrs Jameel Mehmud. He had such sterling qualities forwhich we all held him in awe. I am reminded of an incident in Baghdogra AF mess. He saw late Brig Balwinder Singh smoking with his turban on . Next day he called him to his office and told him I don’t mind you smoking but respect your religion . I will appreciate if you don’t do it ( as related to us by late Balli Singh ) . When I was commanding 166 Med Regt at Lekhapani he came on a visit to Dinjan. I rung him up and invited him to my mess which he readily obliged. He confided in me RS I JUST COULD NOT SAY NO TO YOU 659 and all officers who were part of my team have a special place in my heart. He really enjoyed the impromptu Social Evening arranged by my officers and ladies. He was COS Eastern Comd then . I asked him as to how is the future. He in his absolute positive approach to life said RS future is always good. Brig Adil is the elder of the two siblings . The younger one was Mrs Jameels pet. The couple were I the most wonderful people I have met .May their souls RIP. Gen Jameel was a wonderful person. I first met him in the NDA where he was my SI in pre- Staff course. Shortly thereafter he came to Deolali for the reunion and we met at the para drop demo. He told me that he would be coming to my place the next day for breakfast. Very informal. Next, when he came as ADG Army Avn, I was sent to receive him and family at the airport. A week later, around 9.30 pm the doorbell rang and I find them standing there. What a surprise! He said he had come to visit a close friend in the next block and came to know that I was living close by. So he dismissed his car because he decided to pay us a surprise visit and ask me to drop them back. Such informality was his unique quality. Unfortunately, I was the Colonel Avn in HQs Eastern Comd when he met his end in that horrible crash. He had great affection for all who wore the wing. I will always remember him with great respect� Yes sir, that was a horrible day.

We were 3 heptrs waiting at Paro the next valley to Haa Dzong. We were to take off post his departure. Morning 810 am. Unfortunately his heptr toppled over post hitting cable from valley to haul logs. FELL UPSIDE DOWN AND CAUGHT FIRE. There after I flew the King Bhutan with Indian Ambassador much against rules in a single engine heptr. Got direct clearance from MO Dte