Personalities

1965 War – AF Stories …

Posted on January 10, 2019. Filed under: From a Services Career, Pakistan, Personalities |

From Hamid Hussain –

1965 POWs

Seven Indian Air Force officers who were prisoners of war during 1965 conflict prior to flying back to India; 22 January 1966, Peshawar 

Left to Right – Vijay Mayadev, Kodendera ‘Nanda’ Cariappa, Brijpal Singh Sikand, unidentified Pakistan army Lieutenant Colonel, Squadron Leader (later Air Vice Marshal) Bahar ul Haq of Pakistan Air Force; Captain of the plane, Onkar Nath ‘Piloo’ Kacker, Mahendra Vir Singh, Lal Sadarangani and Manmohan ‘Mani’ Lowe.  On the plane stairs are two unidentified members of the plane crew.  

Repatriated IAF PoWs 1965 War - 1 (002)

Seven IAF pilots on repatriation to India meeting Indian Air Force Chief Air Marshal Arjan Singh in his office; 22 January 1966.  From left Vijay Mayadev, Lal Sadarangani, O. N. Kacker, K. Cariappa, B. S. Sikand and Air Marshal Arjun Singh. M.V. Singh is next to Arjun Singh with face partially hidden and M. M. Lowe is hidden behind Lal.  Photograph courtesy of Air Marshal Kodendera ‘Nanda’ Cariappa.

Flight Lieutenant Kodendera Nanda Cariappa was serving with No 20 Squadron.  His Hunter was shot down on 22 September 1965 by Anti-Aircraft Artillery (AAA) fire near Kasur.  He was injured during ejection.  He was first treated at Combined Military Hospital (CMH) Lahore and later transferred to Rawalpindi.  Pakistan army chief General Muhammad Musa visited him at CMH Lahore and in Rawalpindi Ayub Khan’s son visited him.  After repatriation, he steadily rose to higher ranks. 

He commanded No: 111 Helicopter unit and later commanded No: 8 Squadron.  He retired at Air Marshal.  His father was first Indian Commander-in-Chief Field Marshal K. M. Cariappa.  Field Marshal Cariappa was Field Marshal Ayub Khan’s brigade commander before partition of India in 1947.

Squadron Leader Brijpal Singh Sikand was serving with No: 23 Squadron. On 03 September 1965, he was part of a four Gnat sortie over Lahore.  Indian plan consisted of four Mystères luring the Sabres, while low flying Gnats were to pounce on Pakistani jets from two different directions.

Two F 86s Sabres and one F-104 Starfighter were in the air. The four Mystères, having apparently lured the patrolling Sabres, turned north and exited the battle area, leaving the Gnats to strike from behind.  Indian Gnats broke off on appearance of F-104 and headed back.  One Gnat flown by Sikand, however, having gone back, turned about and re-entered Pakistani airspace. Another F-104 was scrambled and Gnat landed at an unused airfield of Pasrur.

A field ambulance was stationed near the air strip commanded by Major (later Lieutenant Colonel) Dr. Yahya Ghaznavi who took surrender of Sikand. Two PAF pilots arrived to take custody of Sikand and the Gnat.  Sikand told his captors that he got separated from his formation, lost directions and with low fuel landed on the air strip.  In 1971 war, Sikand was commanding Kalaikanda based No: 22 Squadron.  He retired as Air Marshal.

Hatmi_Sikand (002)

On left Squadron Leader Saad Hatmi talking to B. S. Sikand at the airfield after surrender; 03 September 1965.  Photograph courtesy of Air Commodore ® Kaiser Tufail.

Flight Lieutenant Vijay Mayadev was commissioned in 1962.  In 1965, he was serving with No: 9 Squadron based at Adampur flying Gnats.  Initially, No: 9 Squadron was mainly flying Combat Air Patrols (CAPs) to protect vital installations and airfields.  Later, Gnats were used to escort Mysteres for ground support attacks in combat zone. 

On 19 September, four Mysteres of No: 1 Squadron were launched in a ground support attack.  They were escorted by four Gnats of No: 9 Squadron.  Vijay was wingman of this pair of Gnats.  He was shot down by Flight Lieutenant Saif ul Azam of No: 17 Squadron flying F-86E. After repatriation, Vijay became flying instructor and seconded to Iraqi Air Force for a while.  Vijay retired in 1980 at the rank of Wing Commander and joined Air India. 

Flight Lieutenant Saif ul Azam who brought down Vijay was a Bengali and his life story is amazing. 

Saif won gallantry award of Sitara-e-Jurrat for this action in 1965 war.  During 1967 Arab-Israeli war, he was in Jordan on deputation.  He volunteered for combat missions and wearing Jordanian uniform, shot an Israeli Mystere – IVA. 

When Jordanian air force was destroyed, he then moved on to Iraq.  Now wearing Iraqi uniform, he was engaged in combat with Israeli aircraft.  After separation of East Pakistan in 1971, he was repatriated to his new homeland of Bangladesh where he retired as Group Captain. 

His life highlights the ironies of the times.  He was born a British subject in Indian Bengal and in 1947, became Pakistani citizen and served his country well.  He fought against Israel helping Arabs and in 1971, became citizen of Bangladesh.

He has the distinction of wearing the uniform of four air forces and winning gallantry awards from three countries; Sitara-e-Jurrat from Pakistan, Husam-e-Isteqlal from Jordan and Noth-e-Shuja from Iraq. 

Squadron Leader Onkar Nath ‘Piloo’ Kacker serving with No: 27 Squadron was flying Hunter that was shot down on 07 September by Squadron Leader M.M. Alam. He rose to the rank of Wing Commander.  He was Commanding Officer of No: 10 Squadron equipped with Indian manufactured HF-24 Marut.  He was killed in a HF-24 crash in 1970. 

Flight Lieutenant Lal Sadarangani was serving with No: 8 Squadron.  His Mystere-IV was shot down by AAA fire on 13 September.  He retired as Wing Commander and joined Air India. 

Flight Lieutenant Manmohan ‘Mani’ Lowe was serving with No: 5 Squadron.  His Canberra was shot down on 21 September by Squadron Leader Jamal Ahmad Khan flying F-104.  His navigator Flying Officer K. K. ‘Raj’ Kapur was killed.  Mani retired as Wing Commander and joined Air India. 

Flying Officer Mahendra Vir Singh was commissioned in 1962.  He was serving with No: 27 Squadron.  His Hunter was shot down by AAA fire on 08 September and he had leg injury.  He retired as air commodore.

Marshal of the Air Force Arjan Singh (1919-2017) was a fine officer and gentleman.  Arjan and Pakistan Air Force Chiefs Air Marshal Asghar Khan (1957-65) and Air Marshal Nur Khan (1965-69) were pioneers of Royal Indian Air Force before independence in 1947. 

Although now commanding rival air forces, they had profound respect for each other.  In the spring of 1965, Indian and Pakistani troops clashed in Rann of Kutch area.  Pakistan Air Force Chief Air Marshal Asghar Khan contacted his counterpart in India Air Marshal Arjan Singh and they agreed to keep their air forces out of this conflict that could lead to a general war. 

Arjan always praised Asghar and Nur for their professionalism and called them ‘my dear friends’.  In 1966, when Arjan Singh visited Pakistan, he stayed with Nur Khan. 

Air-Marshal-Arjan-Singh-of-India-and-Air-Marshal-Nur-Khan-of-Pakistan

Air Marshal Arjan Singh and Air Marshal Nur Khan in Peshawar 1966

Even at the age of 97, Arjan had such a graceful personality as evidenced by a photograph below;

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Augustus Caesar – Road to Dictatorship …

Posted on January 8, 2019. Filed under: Personalities, Roman Thought |

This article was republished by The Wire from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.  Here are Extracts –

Augustus (27 BCE to 14 CE) was Rome’s first Emperor, who established an enduring monarchy following some 20 years of civil war in the aftermath of the assassination of his adoptive father, Julius Caesar, on the Ides of March 44 BCE.

Augustus has a long line of high-profile admirers. They see him as a great statesman who brought peace to a Roman Republic long afflicted by civil wars. But what “certain things” did he do and how admirable were they?A

A prominent contemporary admirer of Augustus is Dr David Engels, a distinguished Belgian Professor of Roman history. He makes a chilling case for an authoritarian, conservative and imperial European New Order, inspired by Augustus, who effectively converted the Roman Republic to an autocracy.

Dr Engels argues Augustan-style authoritarianism would be the best practical solution to Europe’s current woes as he sees them – mass immigration, low national fertility rates, the decline of the family and traditional values, materialism, egoism, globalisation, insecurity, and a growing democratic deficit caused by spiralling inequality and technocratic tendencies.

This modern-day appeal of Augustus is perhaps being echoed in the increasing attractiveness of strongman politics in countries like the US, Russia, Turkey, Italy, Hungary, the Philippines, and Brazil.B

But the idea of Augustus as one of history’s greatest statesmen warrants a closer look at his statecraft, particularly how he handled truth and the often bloody and cynical methods he used to establish an autocracy that would endure for centuries.

Augustus’s own autobiography is a towering example of “alternative truth”. It’s a boastful retrospective, but other evidence suggests this masterly piece of propaganda closely reproduces the artful politics he adopted after his grand-uncle, the dictator Julius Caesar, was stabbed to death in the Senate in 44 BCE.

In the first chapter, Augustus boldly claims that, roughly one year after Caesar’s assassination, he raised a private army at the age of 19 “to restore liberty to the Republic when it was oppressed by the tyranny of a faction”.

Hammering home his point, Augustus goes on to assert that:

when I had extinguished the flames of civil war, being in absolute control of affairs by universal consent, I transferred the Republic from my own control to the will of the Senate and the Roman people.

However, the reality, couldn’t have been more different.

Apart from the fact that it was a criminal offence under Roman law to raise private militias for factional subversion of the state, he didn’t come out of the blue as a selfless saviour in that fateful spring of 44 BCE.

Augustus, or Octavius as he was then known, was already poised to be second-in-command in Caesar’s New Order. Styling himself as the Young Caesar, he made a brazen bid to reclaim rank and stature by ruthlessly rekindling the flames of civil war. This shattered the compromise peace made between Mark Antony, Caesar’s foremost lieutenant, and Caesar’s leading assassins, Brutus and Cassius.

His claims he took control by universal consent and subsequently restored the traditional republican polity after his military victory over Antony and Cleopatra 30 BCE are equally mendacious.

Repressing opposition

Augustus repeatedly conducted murderous as well as bloodless purges of the aristocracy from November 43 through to 29 BCE, repressing all political opposition. Late in 43, he and his then-allies Mark Antony and Lepidus ruthlessly proscribed over 300 senators and 2,000 equestrians (the lower aristocracy and business elite).

Many were hunted down and butchered in plain view, including the great orator and republican Marcus Cicero.

In 28 BCE, after his final civil war victories and shortly before his much vaunted “restoration” of the Republic, he removed another 40% of the Senate, reducing their numbers to 600.

In 27 BCE, when he finally laid down his official emergency powers – powers he had alleged were needed to confront real or imaginary crises he and his henchmen had engineered – a compliant Senate promptly reinvested him with a vast, 10-year military command.

This command was the cornerstone of his autocracy, and was suitably renewed every 10 years, invariably justified on the grounds of ongoing military exigencies in the provinces.

One major consequence of this charade was unprecedented imperialist expansion and warfare. At enormous human and material cost, Augustus would more than double the size of the Empire and add more territory to Rome’s provincial dominion than any Roman before or after him – so much for his much-vaunted peace, the Pax Augusta.A

At the same time as he consolidated his power, Augustus was careful to ensure that Rome’s ancestral republican institutions and political bodies were scrupulously upheld. This created a powerful, if hollow, semblance of normality and traditionalism. He studiously avoiding the odious title of dictator, no doubt mindful of the fate of Julius Caesar.

By his ruthless and cynical actions, Augustus arguably wrote the script for some of the most notorious tyrants of the 20th century – Stalin and Hitler.

The Soviet Constitution of 1936, duly adopted by popular vote and put into effect by Stalin, demonstrably enshrined a number of democratic and liberal rights. For example, Article 125 declared:

In conformity with the interests of the working people, and in order to strengthen the socialist system, the citizens of the USSR are guaranteed by law: freedom of speech; freedom of the press; freedom of assembly, including the holding of mass meetings; freedom of street processions and demonstrations.

But in true Augustan style, Stalin’s Constitution was marked by a staggering divide between theory and practice.

Similarly, Hitler’s power grab in Germany in 1933 was right out of the Augustan playbook.

Blaming an arson attack on the German Reichstag (parliament) on the Communist opposition, Hitler was able to pressure an ailing President Hindenburg to decree him emergency powers. This nullified many civil liberties and transferred key state powers to his Nazi-led government.

Hitler then ruthlessly exploited these powers to repress and imprison anyone deemed inimical to the Nazi regime. A month later, with his opponents purged, he passed a law allowing him to directly enact laws, bypassing the Reichstag.

By virtue of these laws, Hitler secured a legal dictatorship in the best Augustan tradition, allowing him to rule by decree while the democratic Weimar Constitution technically remained in force until the Allied Occupation.

Given the actual history of Rome’s first emperor and his subsequent imitators, anyone looking to Augustus and his methods as a source of inspiration and a role model for crisis management should be very careful what they wish for.


Frederik Juliaan Vervaet is an Associate Professor of Ancient History at University of Melbourne


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Kabir, Akbar, Babur …

Posted on December 14, 2018. Filed under: Personalities |

Kabir was recognised as a ‘Muwahidd’ both in the liberal Muslim circles in medieval India, of which Abu’l Fazl is the most shining symbol as well as in orthodox circles and both emphasised that Kabir’s Muwahidd status went beyond the bounds of Islam and Hinduism.

What did Kabir do to earn this distinction?

He questioned two prevailing orthodoxies: the concept of rival Gods and the need for religious rituals for worshipping Him. In place of Allah and Ishwar he conceptualised a single universal God; in place of denominational religions, he conceptualised a universal religiosity.

Bhai re do jagdis kahan se aaya; kahu kaune bauraya (Brother, where have two gods come from, who has misled you into believing it?),” he asserted. “

Alla, Ram, Karima, Kesav Hari Hajrat naam dharaya (Allah, Ram, Karim, Kesav, Hari, Hajrat – they are all the same identity).” His entire collection of poetry is teeming with this single theme.

He also ridiculed the rituals of going to temples or masjids to worship God, the rituals that Abu’l Fazl refers to and himself endorses giving these up.

Kabir was thus displacing the age-old dichotomy between denominational religions with a remarkably innovative concept, i.e. dichotomy between universal religiosity and denominational religions.

One God for him no longer stood for one community, but for all of humanity. It eliminated rivalry between gods and included them all in a single fold.

https://thewire.in/religion/kabir-in-his-times-and-ours

And Akbar

Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar, who ruled most of India for almost half a century between 1556 and 1605 was totally illiterate. But he had the innate inquisitiveness to question virtually everything and only a convincing reason would satisfy him.

He questioned the use of several letters for the same sound in the Arabic alphabet, the inhumanity of child marriage, the denial of a daughter’s share in her father’s property, the treatment of sexuality as mere pious duty rather than a source of pleasure, but above all, he questioned denominational religion as the basis of legitimacy of the state.

Indeed, he firmly held that “truth inhabited every religion; how was it then that the Muslim community, which was relatively young, less than a millennium old, should receive preference at the expense of others?”

The notion of any religion-based state would necessarily involve discrimination against other religionists. To seek a resolution between his quest of a common truth and religious discrimination,

Akbar established the famous Ibadat Khana (House of Worship) where first the Ulama (Islamic theologians) and soon others – Brahmins, Jesuits, Jains, Zoroastrians – discussed the truth of their respective religions. In the end, Akbar arrived at the concept of sulh-i kul, universal peace, which would be entirely non-discriminatory.

Attributes of a great monarch

It was Akbar’s courtier, historian and counsel, Abu’l Fazl, author of Akbar Nama, who created the conceptual architecture of sulh-i kul. Clearly this was a total alternative to the concept of a religion-based state. Abu’l Fazl elaborates the qualities that mark out a great monarch.

Lineage, collection of wealth, and the assembling of a mob are not essential for this rare dignity, in Abu’l Fazl’s words; “on coming to the throne, if the king did not establish sulh-i kul for all time and did not regard all groups of humanity and all religious sects with the single eye of favour and benevolence and not be the mother to some and step-mother to others, he will not become worthy of the exalted dignity.”

https://thewire.in/culture/recalling-the-lessons-of-kabir-and-akbar-for-these-turbulent-times

And Babur

Among several other records, Babur could probably be credited with having inspired the largest number of biographies among the long list of emperors of India. Babur: Timurid Prince and Mughal Emperor by Stephen Frederic Dale is one more, one which is brief, crisp and easy on the mind’s eye. This, by an old hand at the study of “Islamic” empires and societies in West and Central Asia, Iran and India. Giving us a biography of Babur is for him not a new enterprise. 

https://thewire.in/history/babur-mughal-empire-stephen-dale

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Margaret Mitchel’s ‘Rhet Butler’ on ‘War’ …

Posted on December 13, 2018. Filed under: Guide Posts, Personalities |

From GWTW ..

“All wars are sacred to the people who have to fight them’  
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“If the people who started them did not make them sacred who would fight them?   …… ‘
 
“But no matter what rallying cries the orators make – give to the idiots who fight them …….. ‘No matter what noble purpose they assign to the wars, there is never but one reason for them – ‘
 
“And that is Money’.
 

All wars are in reality money squabbles – but so few people   ever realize it. .. 
Their ears are too full of Bugles and Drums  and the fine words of Stay at Home Orators’.
 

“Sometimes the Cry is Save the ‘Tomb of Christ from the Heathen  .. Sometimes it is ‘Down with Popery’ …  
and Sometimes ‘Liberty’
and Sometimes ‘Cotton, Slavery and States Rights.’”
 




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The National Herald Case …

Posted on December 6, 2018. Filed under: Personalities |

Vijay Raheja – 

Someone asked me to explain the National Herald-Young Indian scam – It’s simple.

National herald (NH) was started during 1930s by Nehru and was a publishing news paper.

During course of time it accumulated land and wealth of 5000 Crores. In 2000s it went into loss and had 90 crs debt.

NH’s directors Sonia, Rahul, and Motilal Vohra decided to sell it to Young India Ltd.

Now the funny part. Young India’s directors were Sonia, Rahul, Oscar Fernandes and Motilal Vohra.

Deal was that young India would clear NH’s 90 cr  loan and in return get assets worth 5000 cr.

To strike this deal Motilal Vohra spoke to  Motilal Vohra because he was director of both companies.

Now comes the twist. To clear the 90 cr debt, Young Indian, asks Congress party to give loan of 90 cr.

So congress calls a meeting, Party President, VP,  Gen Secy, Treasurer attends it. Who are these people ?

Sonia, Rahul, Oscar and Motilal Vohra respectively.

Congress gives the loan.

Who approves it – the treasurer, Motilal Vohra.

So congress Treasurer Vohra, gives loan to Young India, its Director Vohra takes it and gives it to NH Director Vohra.

Hold on the Joke doesn’t stop here.

Next day Congress Party calls meeting – who attend ? Sonia, Rahul, Oscar, Vohra. They decide that NH They decide NH has done lot of service to the country during the  freedom fight, so let’s write off the loan.

So 90 Crores loan is written off. Great.

Young India with 36% share held by Sonia and  Rahul each, rest owned by Oscar and Vohra get property worth 5000 cr, including 11 Stories flats at Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg in Delhi – which is rented out to passport office and other offices.

This is what is called creation. Creating everything out of nothing. 5000 crs out of thin air !!!!

This makes Charles Sobhraj look like the Pope.

See how some gullible Indians have not learnt their lessons as yet and continue to support CROOKS !

has done lot of service to the country during  freedom fight, let’s write off the loan.

So 90 Crores loan is written off.

Great. Young India with 36% share held by Sonia and  Rahul each, rest owned by Oscar and Vohra gets

property worth 5000 cr, including 11 stories flat  at bahadur shah zafar marg in Delhi, which is rented out to passport office and other offices.

Wow this is what is called creation. Creating everything out of nothing. 5000 crs out of thin air !!!!

This makes Charles Sobhraj look like Pope.

Samajh mein aaya?

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1965 War – Over View …

Posted on November 23, 2018. Filed under: From a Services Career, Personalities |

Indian View 

       “It was a War that Pakistan Lost – but India did not Win”

Pak View

.”We were Saved by Allah, Artillery – and the Indian Army”

It was on Sep 1st 1965, that Pakistan sent its tanks hurtling into the Chamb Jorrian Sector. They were headed straight for the ‘Chickens Neck’ with the aim of cutting India’s only land route to the entire Jammu and Kashmir region.
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It had been a phoney war right from Mar of ’65 when Pakistan made disturbing noises in the Rann of Kutch but in Aug it launched its Op Gibralter, hotting up infiltration in Kashmir.
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As far as planning at the higher level goes, its Pakistan all the way because its Second planned offensive in the Khem Karan sector caught us napping – and could have been lethal had it not been for the soggy soil which bogged the Pattons of their 1 Armored Division but their Infantry did capture Khem Karan.

How ever it was leadership at the junior level at all places which levelled the playing field for India.
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The Army Chief General Chaudhary addressed the officers of the Armoured division which had moved to the Punjab in Mar, in Jalandhar, late in August. He commiserated with our boredom but said he hoped to give us orders shortly to either charge West into Pakistan or return to our base at Jhansi.
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Gen Chaudhary had earned pecuniary notoriety when he had marched into the then Nizam’s Hyderabad in order to annexe it into the Indian union. As Southern Army Commander he had carried out some strange recce while ostensibly on shikar before the Army marched into Goa. He had made Chief only because Gen Thapar had been sacked after the bashing by the Chinese in ’62. Now he was about to take the Army into war. One heck of a lucky ‘Bangala Babu’.
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There is controversy, (indeed General Chaudhary’s middle name is controversy) regarding whether he panicked during the first week of the war – when Pakistan unleashed its offensive towards Beas in the Khem Karan Sector. This brilliantly conceived operation was aimed at the Beas Bridge, so as to cut off everything of ours to its North.
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The situation was really steadied by the courage and coolness of the XI Corps Commander, Jogi Dhillon of the Sappers. This stern, no nonsense and serious soul had even located his HQ North of the Beas River, at Raiya. And of course the single Centurion regiment and the remainder Sherman regiments of Brig Thambi’s Armored Brigade.

It was in the area around Assal Uttar, that the actions of Brig Thambi’s armor, when even the poorly gunned Shermans (which had long since outlived their utility), made mincemeat of the sitting duck, bogged down Patton’s of Pakistan[s elite First Armored Division.
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Evidently GHQ Rawalpindi, had not taken into consideration the post monsoon quagmirish ground. Indeed it was this that actually saved the day for India. In fact an enemy regimental commander surrendered near my village of Mahmudpura and all he asked was for water – and it was rumored that their Armored Division Commander’s tank had been knocked out near where our Havidar Abdul Hamid PVC lost his life and hs Memorial stands.
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However all this pertains to a Sector in which our Armored Division had planned and prepared for war but fought somewhere else – which is again the norm and not the exception. However all this is jumping the gun.
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Back to Gen Chaudhary and his address. What perturbed me was that the Chief seemed to be more dependent on the cocktail circuit grapevine than on any professional source for his intelligence re Pakistani aims and designs. Maybe that is the way it is or perhaps how he liked to do his stuff!
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The Official History of the 1965 war, edited by S N Prasad, blames the Indian Army’s “faulty strategy” which delivered “a large number of inconsequential jabs” and led “to stalemate on all fronts. To be fair, India had the upper hand during the war. It captured nearly four times more territory than Pakistan – specially in Kashmir”.

But imagine an Army Chief who orders the destruction of all Operational Orders and Instructions at the end of the War!

According to the US Library of Congress Country Studies,“A continuation of the fighting would only have led to further losses and ultimate defeat for Pakistan”.

And the History continues, “That would have happened had the then Army Chief, General Joyanto Nath Chaudhuri, not miscalculated India’s ammunition stock and tank casualties, forcing the government to accept the ceasefire on September 22, 1965”.

This proves my point that we hardly used our Artillery whereas Pakistan pounded us with theirs.

As regards the Navy with its carrier INS Vikrant being refitted in dry docks and most other vessels under maintenance, the Indian Navy hardly played any part in the war. The Pakistan navy, in fact, destroyed the Indian radar station at Dwarka. The two air forces actively participated, but neither side was able to achieve air superiority. As part of our only Armored Div, the PAK AF gets more marks as I saw more of theirs than ours.
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By August the infiltration into the Kashmir Valley had begun in right earnest. Thinking that the iron was hot, Field Marshal Ayub Khan, egged on by the ebullient, ever ambitious Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, took the fateful plunge and ordered his initial tank offensive into the Chamb Jaurian Sector on 1st Sep.
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It was, however, not a few hours, when to the whole worlds rude shock and surprise, the puny, diminutive but steely Indian Prime Minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri, ordered his Chiefs to do what they needed to do.
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Air Chief Marshal Arjun Singh sent in, I think it was the Mysteres based in Pathankot, to shoot up the tanks in their tracks – while the Gnats, flying over head gave them air cover. It was that day the Keelor brothers began notching up their kills.
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We must remember that our professional thinking was archaic, Second War orientated and bound by the Montgomery written Operations of War pamphlets – three of which, the Advance to Contact and Withdrawal, along with the River Crossing one, proved obsolete and were withdrawn at the end of the war, viz Three of Five Operations of War Bibles!
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Pak had fared better as they along with the US Aid had incorporated their organization and tactics. For instance they had a  Recce and Support Bn which held large frontages by the mobile fire power of jeep mounted MMGs and Anti tank guns. And they were also about to demonstrate how artillery is best used.
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It is my long reflected opinion that, if only the army, or any unit or formation from section to division, can do three things, then it can be considered thoroughly professional and well trained. First. Reel in and move smoothly and seamlessly and without confusion and casualties from Point A to Point B. Second. Rapidly deploy and dig down fast and deep. Third. Shoot, what ever stuff it has, in the general direction of the enemy. Indeed that is about all that is really needed to be well trained. All else is mere bull and frill.
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As a thinking soldier with some six years of service at the time of this war, I had always rated our Artillery as the most professional arm of our Army. Not least because of the outstanding gunner officers it had been my privilege to befriend viz Gurbaksh, the noted mountain gunner, Adi Homji the true Pro and then my first Brigade Major, Ben Gonzalvez. Nearer my seniority was Harry Harbhajan. All officers of character, class and calibre.

And I maintain it was in Artillery that we were totally and completely outclassed by the Pakistanis. And that from Day One and right up to the Cease Fire. Sadly this was both in concept, organization and employment as well as in the type and quantum of equipment and ammunition used with deadly effect.

The Indian Army learnt about the massed use of this great arm from Pakistan. Included was the seemingly lavish expenditure of the apparently abundant and limitless ammunition. Then we also learnt a thing or two about the bold, audacious and imaginative use of Observation Officers and their inclusion in Stay Behind Parties.

Indeed in Artillery, India and Pakistan were not on the same page. We were mere also rans.
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Armored Divisions
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In those days India had one against Pakistan’s two armored divisions though their 6 Armored Div had only one brigade HQ and was not fully organized. While Pakistan had launched its First Armored Division in the Khem Karan Sector, the location of its 6 Armored Division was not known then and, to my knowledge and horror, not known even to the end of the war. A mere Regt, 25 Armd Regt, along with elements of a R and S Bn proved more than enough to stop our Armd Div in its tracks
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However when the time for fighting came, it was fortunate that 3 CAV with its hardy and robust Centurions – which were the only real match for the Pakistani Pattons – stayed put in Punjab and helped decimate the Pakistan armored division in the Khem Karan Sector.
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In the Sialkot Sector the Eighth Garhwalis were tagged with the Shermans of 2nd Lancers and 62 Cav ex our 26 Div . For the fiasco of the Buttur Dograndi battle, we were with the Centurions of Poona Horse, for whom we were wholly unknowns. Sadly that is what happens in war. You train alongside some and you fight alongside another!!!
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Lahore and Khem Karan Sectors.
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This relates to what was happening on the GT Road or Lahore front, where we had launched, with much fan fare, our 15 Infantry Division. And on the Khem Karan front where Pakistan had launched their Patton armed First Armored Division after capturing Khem Karan..
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When 15 Division launched India’s grand offensive for the capture of Lahore, it was soon confronted by the Ichogil Canal – the existence of which was well known. Yet its existence surprised the Indian Command and the much publicized offensive ground to a halt as no one quite knew or was prepared to reinforce Col Hayde’s 3 Jats which had crossed the canal with grit and determination and were ensconced in a village on its far bank.
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Funnily the Indian Army, under Second War British tutelage, had practiced opposed river crossing operations and had a pamphlet on the subject yet we had not ever considered the difficulties, problems and methodology for getting over a defended canal.
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As has been said, Third Jat under their CO, the intrepid Desmond Hayde, did  cross and capture a village. But they were unable to stay on as they could not be reinforced. So much for our much touted professionalism when a mere canal stopped a deliberate operation of the Indian Army. And that too after the Chinese wake up call in ’62.
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South of the GT Road 15 Division offensive, 7 Inf Division was launched and all it did was capture Burki Village where 19 MLI outshone all. The sad part is that a division captures a village in the entire war! And the GOC Gen Sibal, a very fine officer, gets a MVC!
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Further South where we had our 4 Division under Gen Gurbaksh in general area North of Khem Karan, Pakistan on its part launched its own bold, cleverly conceived offensive which rather surprised and benumbed the Indian Command which on its part with an added Armd Bde was planning to capture Kasur.
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The PAK operation was brilliantly conceived with the aim of reaching and destroying the bridge at Beas. Thus everything North of Beas would be cut off and destroyed piecemeal and at leisure.
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The stern, no nonsense Bengal sapper, Jogi Dhillon had – maybe just to put the fear of God into his own staff – located his Corps Hqs North of Beas at Raiyya. Recently there was much uncalled for debate that Gen Chaudhari, the Chief had panicked and ordered a withdrawal South of Beas!

Recent books have revisited the Gen Harbaksh controversy re the then Chief ordering a Withdrawal behind the Beas. The subject was hotly debated several years ago with various heavy weights giving their two cents. Here is the noted historian and authority on Matters Military, Maj Gen KM Bhimaya (Retd) giving his authoritative summation.

“I have met and interviewed Gen Harbaksh Singh, at his Vasant Vihar residence, way back in 1987, with other members of the Inter Service Study team on the 1965 War. At no time, did he mention about the Withdrawal Orders to Beas Bridge episode. I do not remember having read about these orders in his ‘Dispatches’. If any one has read about this incident, I request it be shared’.

“That brings me to the important question of drawing inferences about momentous historical decisions. Most of the perplexities faced by an analyst arise from the inherent difficulty in divining the mind of a commander who takes such critical decisions’.

“In the instant case, the question is not about the propriety of a decision but whether or not a decision was taken at all. Therefore, in such cases, the primacy of documentary over circumstantial evidence is absolute. Alas, we do not have a semblance of documentary evidence! And with this cloud of uncertainty, a rigorous analyst would label belated claims ‘apocryphal’ – a common euphemism for unverified assertions’.

“At the expense of brevity let me illustrate one more example from the 1971 War. The controversy whether the Indian Armed Forces had planned for the liberation of Bangladesh has been discussed several times. Apart from field commanders, two important staff officers who had major roles in implementing orders were interviewed several times by our team. While Gen Jacob, who had a politico-military role (particularly in obtaining Gen Niazi’s surrender on terms most favorable to India), insisted that he had, right from July 1971, prepared for the total liberation of Bangladesh, the operational orders did not say so’.

“Gen Inderjit Singh Gill, the then DMO, also stated that he was not aware of such orders, though some contingency plans, such as the tasks for the airborne operations had been formulated. General Jacob produced a few DOs that talked about possible roles for the Parachute Battalion. Gen Sagat Singh, undoubtedly the most outstanding of all the field commanders and the first to reach Dacca, denied any knowledge of any orders for the capture of Dacca. Under these circumstances, we, in the study team, made an informed judgment that, although there were no written orders, the various DOs Gen Jacob produced, attested to the fact that some kind of informal planning had taken place”

 It cannot be sufficiently emphasized that above all it was the soft quagmirish ground that mired the Pak armor resulting in them becoming sitting ducks and later making a Patton grave yard at Bhikhiwind. In fact the CO of one Pak regiment surrendered at Mahmudpura and begged for water from the civilian folk.
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Gen Harbaksh, wanted ever so much to get 4 Sikh a Battle Honor! So he inducts them from 7 Inf Div and sends them to establish a block behind Khem Karan on the road to Kasur – so as to trap the enemy as an attack was being launched on Khem Karan.

But instead Pak attacked and captured Khem Karan. Result, the fighting strength of this proud rich in History battalion, together with the CO, went hook line and sinker into Pakistan’s POW bag.

Funnily in the 1962 War, our wonderful IAF had dropped half of this Great Battalion in Along and the other Half in Walong – where as always it etched its name in glory by inflicting the heaviest casualties on the confidentally advancing Chinese. and again hitting them real hard when they were outflanking the Brigade Defence. When Walong fell, they were singled out for special treatment – no quarter being asked and none given. As POWs however they enjoyed themselves by molly coddling their captors.

The Sialkot Sector
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Our main armored offensive with our elite Black Elephant Division with Poona Horse, Hodson’s, 16 Cav, all with the hardy Centurions and 62 Cav and 2nd Lancers with up gunned Shermans, was opposed on the first day by nothing more than jeep mounted machine guns and the antitank recoilless guns of a Recce and Support battalion with elements of 25 Armd Regt coming op piecemeal..
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We knew of the R and S Organization as it had been gifted to them by the Yanks. This organization defended ground by mobility and fire power. The USA had also gifted Pattons, artillery and their concepts, doctrines and tactics. By and by some Pak armor did arrive, notably the full 25 Cav. but our offensive had already stalled.

Here follow extracts from a book THE BATTLE OF CHAWINDA by Maj (Retd) AGHA HUMAYUN AMIN – with quotes of our GOC and Army Commander and of Commender PAK Artillery.

‘Sparrow’ Rajinder Singh’s and Gen Harbakshs’ comments are a tribute to Pak’s 25 Cavalry, the only unit along with R and S elements which opposed our Arnoured Division Thrust..

Gen Sparrow is quoted, “The first day’s battle could not have been a worse start. The Armoured Brigade had been blocked by two squadrons and elements of the R and S Bn and in the first encounter the brigade had lost more tanks than the enemy. The.whole of 1 Corps had gained only a few kilometres”

The Pak author says that “the worst consequence of this day was the paralyzing effect it had on the minds of enemy commanders. It took them near 48 hours to come up with what to do now! This gave the Pakistanis time to move and deploy elements of 6 Armored Division. The advantages of the sudden initial onslaught had been forfeited by the confused chaos of the first days actions of the Indian 1st Armoured Division”.

As per the  author, the Indian Army Commander, summed up the Indian fiasco – “Both 16 Cavalry and 17 Horse failed to determine the strength of the opposing armor and displayed little skill in out maneuvering. The Brigade Commander made the unfortunate decision to withdraw 17 Horse from Tharoah for countering an alleged serious tank threat on the Left flank. This was a grave error of judgement as 4 Horse which by this time had been released to the Brigade by GOC 1 Armored Division, could have been used to meet any flank threat posed by enemy armor”.

More from Gen Harbaksh, “This blunder cost us dearly. We made an advance of only four miles beyond the bridgehead when a much deeper penetration could have been achieved. The fleeting chance that could have been exploited to gain striking success, was lost forever and while we were fumbling about ineffectively in a chaotic situation of our own creation, the enemy had that vital breathing space so essential for a quick rally round from the stunning impact of being surprised’.

“We courted a serious setback through faulty decisions and immature handling of armor which the enemy was not slow to exploit. From now onwards, the thrust which had been intended to keep the enemy off balance and reeling until the final blow by sheer speed of advance, turned  into a slow slogging match- a series of battering-ram actions”.

More or less the same is the opinion of Major Shamshad of 25 Cav whose Patton was immobilized by my Company on 17 Sep. He writes – “Instead of wasting two days, if Poona Horse had advanced from Dugri to Shehzada and threatened Pasroor on 9th we would have been in serious trouble. Alternatively 2 Lancers could have moved unopposed from Bhagowal to Badiana and cut off the Sialkot – Pasrur Road”.

“After 9th September when elements of Pakistan’s 6 Armoured Division had deployed it was no longer a question of surprise but unimaginative battering ram actions with the Pakistanis knowing the ground better. The result of the Indian offensive was all decided on 8 and 9 Sept 1965. The Indians had not suffered a physical defeat on 8th September. It was their commanders that had been afflicted by paralysis. In this state they ‘exaggerated the force in front of them which really was a battered regiment with R and S elements’.

“On 9th September they had two absolutely fresh regiments, 4 Horse and 2 Lancers and one reasonably fresh regiment, 62 Cavalry. Plus two regiments with weaker tank strength – all opposed by 25 Cavalry whose tank strength was down to two squadrons. In infantry they were vastly superior having some twelve battalions against one of Pakistan. Had they possessed a resolute higher leadership, nothing could have stopped them – not even Tikka Khan who had been projected by Shaukat as ‘one known for his firmness and endurance’.

‘The trauma of Gadgor caused the Indian armoured brigade with their Centurions, to remain boxed in a defensive position for whole of 9 and 10 Sep. 25 Cavalry found the Indian Operation Order regarding ‘Operation Nepal’ (the 1 Corps Offensive) in one of the knocked out tanks of 16 Cavalry and learnt that they were opposed by the Indian 1st Armoured Division, 6 Mountain Division and 14 Division and that these were functioning as part of 1 Indian Corps”.
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First of all, our Armoured Division had planned to cross the IB at 6am Sep 8 whereas it evetually crossed After 3 pm as armour of both its columns got bogged down in the 10 to 12 kms of own territory upyo yhe IB and got pounded by Pak Air with our Air no where in sight.

And as narrated by an Officer of 16 Cav, a renowned regiment and at the time one of its officers, JN Chaudhari, was the Chief of the Indian Army. On the second day of our offensive, its Centurions were blazing along as the advance elements of Brig KK’s Thrust Line when all of a sudden it reached a very small undulation marking the bed of a dry stream.
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Mark you this was not even marked on the map but it was enough to hide a strong camouflaged detachment of the Pak Recce and Support Battalion. This detachment held its fire until the leading tanks were sitting ducks. With the first fusillade of point blank anti tank gun fire, all hell broke loose. 16 Cav did not know what had hit them as it had been enough to damage well nigh a squadron worth. Such was the confusion that some tanks carried on full throttle forward getting the hell out of that bedeviled area.
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It was in such an action some days later that one of the finest officers of the Indian Army, Lt Jojo Sengupta – a brilliant Rimcollian and the very best of humans – one whom I will always be proud to have known as a dear friend – lost both eyes when his turret received a direct hit and the flash and splinters scythed his face.

It was after a while that another regiment was stunned when it saw a group of Centurions coming from the enemy side – no one had ever heard of Pakistan having Centurions! Luckily the Regiment held its fire because soon it became evident that these were our own 16 Cav tanks that had gone ahead and then making a wide loop were returning back.course the advance of the combat group ground to a halt and the CO had a hard tim

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Though such stuff happens in war, yet Brig KK was furious and he even recommended that this great unit be disbanded. The same would no doubt have happened had it not been for the fact that the Chief belonged to this regiment. Col Sidhu Brar was a gallant and highly professional officer but he put in his papers immediatly after the war and left the Country. At 96, he is fit as a fiddle as he drives around the SF Bay Area.

Of Maj Bhupinder of Hodsons Horse. Much later in Asvini Naval hospital in Bombay, I got to know his whole tank crew. of Maj Bhupinder Singh. He was a most gallant and polished officer who got a posthumous MVC. His crew consisted of Dharam Singh, Bir Singh and one other, whose first name escapes me. All of them were serious burn cases. Only after they were a little recovered did they come to the physiotherapy department where I too used to land up.

We had long conversations and I found them a cheerful, brave lot. They told me that when their tank was hit, it became a burning inferno with the result that even their clothes caught fire. As they jumped out of the tank, all of them rolled over and over on the ground so as to douse the flames. Unfortunately, Maj Bhupinder after jumping out kept running. As a result his burning clothes made severe scything burns in his body and he died very painfully.

The CHAWINDA Fiascos’
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Among the many other false starts were the proposed attacks on Chawinda which was eventually twice attacked by General Korla’s 6 Infantry Division with two of its own brigades and two from elsewhere. Pounded by enemy artillery the two attacks lost direction and were dismal failures. Chawinda turned out to be a strong position defended with incredible fire power.
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General Shashi Kant Korla had been the Deputy in the Academy when I was there and his lecture on leadership still rings in my ears. He had narrated that when he was a company commander in the Burma war, he had to shoot one of his own men, who was urging the others to abandon the defensive position. Later on at the same spot when the armor troop wanted to withdraw at night, he said he had to whip out a pistol to stop them. Much later he was Commandant of the Infantry School when I did some course. After that when he was in the Udhampur Corps, he personally went to the Srinagar airport to disband a Unit which – under the NCOs – had mutineed. A very great officer indeed.
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At Chawinda, he certainly did not stand up to be counted when ordered by Harbaksh and Dunne to launch a Divisionalal attack with two of the four brigades from a different division. He could have made a stand against such amateurish orders but he buckled when ordered by the newly promoted Corps Commander who was proceeding on retirement a couple days before the War and the highly rated Army Commander.

Alas Gen Korla caved in and the two attacks on Chawinda deserve to be lessons on how not to Attack. Same goes for the much touted brigade commander Jogi Mendher of 15 Punjab.

PAK VERSION OF CHAWINDA ATTACKS

Harbaksh Singh praised the efficiency of Pakistani artillery in dislocating the Indian attacks on Chawinda from the very beginning by effectively shelling both the assaulting Indian brigades in a decisive and effective manner.

Harbaksh Singh wrote ‘Enemy shelling created such confusion that all control was lost. The leading troops lost direction and one unit barged into our own position in Wazirwali. A similar fate befell the other assaulting brigade whose‘Forming Up Place’  was so effectively shelled by the Pakistani artillery that only part of a battalion could reach Chawinda while the rest was repulsed half way”.

“Artillery fire played a major role in defeating the Indian armor whose failure was made certain thanks to advancing in a restricted space. while being hit by 90 artillery pieces including twelve 8 inch howitzers for 15 hours. In contrast the Indian artillery was scattered all along the front and there was hardly any place where it could provide the quality of concentrated fire necessary for blasting a hole in Pak defences.

Pak 4 Corps Artillery under Amjad  Chaudhri –  the man who had trained the 4 Corps artillery brigade in peace and handled it in a masterful and resolute manner at Chawinda noted that ‘most of the attacks mounted by the enemy were broken up by artillery fire on our defensive positions and his will to continue the attack was broken and he was forced to withdraw.

‘East of Chawinda, the Indians was prevented from coming close to our positions by our artillery alone though he made repeated efforts to outflank Chawinda from this direction. The nearest he came to this position was approximately 600 yards when he was forced to withdraw after his leading tanks had been destroyed and accompanying infantry badly mauled. His attacks  were repulsed with massed fire of all our guns. Casualties inflicted on the attacking troops by our shelling were so heavy that in these actions even after he had left our Defenses, his will to fight seemed to have been broken.

Eighth Garhwalis.

The CO, Jerry Jhirad, the Second in Command, Rafey Khan and OC Alpha Company, the ebullient Som Jhingon and Capt Sonkar, the RMO, were great soldiers and individuals, before and during the entire war and any which where. They can with ease and aplomb hold their own in any group of great humans and professionals. They led from up front and were, in their own ways, outstanding personalities.
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Joseph Ephraim Jhirad
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Jerry was a thorough bred, top notch professional with an impeccable record and one who craved professionalism. I had a feeling that he was deeply disturbed by the lost, confused, amateurish way we were fighting the war. The smiles were rarer, mostly he seemed somber.

Perhaps he saw no method in the madness of our activity. No wonder, when ever I saw Jerry in the unit HQ near the stench filled well outside Kaloi or at other places, he was always trying his level best to appear cheerful so as to inspire confidence regarding what we were being asked to do. Somber, yes. confused, never.
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When one reads about the units doings in this war, one will commiserate with what Jerry had to put up with – specially from the Indian high command.
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Abdul Rafey Khan
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Rafey was steady, sober, sensible – as always. He came from the aristocratic Rampur family – a member of which became the Pakistani Foreign Minister. His father had been deputy commissioner at Pauri Garhwal and had shot with the great Jim Corbett. Rafey was polished, poised, practical and professional. He knew no fear. Though later, in my view, he seemed to have a premonition that he was not going to make it. I held him in great admiration and he on his part, did not think of me entirely as a clown.
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Jerry had called us for orders near a well outside of a sugarcane field but he was held up. As we were waiting, the shelling began. Slowly one by one the officers started to go get into the empty trenches. I was enjoying a sugar cane and wanted badly to get into a trench as the fall of shot was coming nearer. I suggested the same to Rafey who was observing the pattern of the fall of shot. Rafey says he thinks the enemy is doing predicted fire.
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To prove it he says he will indicate where the next four rounds will fall and we should watch while taking cover on the side of a stationary tank standing under the tree near the well. Not quite as curious or interested, one way or another, and more worried re our safety, I yet wanted to humor him.
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Sure enough his indication of the fall of the next four rounds was right each and every time. We went moving from one side of the tank to the other before the firing ceased. Turning to me he says, “If we come out of this alive, what a thing we will have to tell!”. I with supreme confidence, replied that of course we would come out okay. Alas maybe he had a premonition.
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Som P Jhingon
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Som was the only one who chattered, mocked and laughed. He used me as a punching bag and poked fun at me all the while. He was indeed having a ball. Hungry for notice and recognition, he did not waste any opportunity for glory. While I was a bachelor, Som was happily married with wife and kids and I wondered at the guy. During the entire war, it was always Som’s Alpha doing this that and the other. As a wizened old pro, I had learnt the golden rule of never volunteering. I knew full well that every one’s time would come – and sooner than later, at that.
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While returning from our bath at the village well, Som pointed out a shop which had just been looted indicating that the rear elements were catching up. He picked up a poster with a local belle on it and said it would decorate his command post. I walked on and saw lying in the street, a small glucose packet. I rationalized that this was not really looting – only picking up something lying in my path. It went straight into my pack and boy was it to come in handy couple days later when I lay wounded in an open field awaiting a Pak Bayonet in my belly as the unit was breaking up and had begun to pull out.

The RMO Capt Sonkar
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The unit had no RMO but just prior to the actual fighting, old Captain Sonkar joined the unit. I went over to check him out but found nothing to be cheery about. The guy was a silent sort who loved his rum. It was said he carried rum in his water bottle and no water there!
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As things began to hot up, the RMO began to show what he was made of as he tended to all casualties with care and consideration. The 2I/C, Rafey also began to think highly of him. Sonkar was at his finest at the Battle of Buttar Dograndi. When the CO, Jerry Jhirad was hit, he tended him with care before putting him on a stretcher in a 3 Ton truck. Next day when I asked him whether I had a simple or compound fracture, busy as he was he responded, “Dont worry, it is part of both!”
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Indeed he was the very last person to leave Buttar Dograndi along with the IO, Captain Vijay Chandra. That was after tending to Rafey Khan, who himself waved him off, well knowing he had not much longer to live and the enemy were closing in. Surely an MVC was easily justified for this cool cool doctor. I would say Rafey will always merit a PVC in my Book and Jerry at the very minimum a VrC. But then Gallantry medals are only for the higher ups and of course for the Armoured Corps!!!

Melody of Movement – Eighth Garhwalis
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We moved from Sangial, where we had harbored on Sep 8, to Maharajke and Kaloi where we spent seversl days with interludes. There after we danced, it seemed aimlessly between Kaloi, Watchoke, Phillaura Cross Roads and Kalewali.
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On Sep 9, Som’s Alpha was grouped with A and B Squadrons of the Lancers which were supported by a battery of the self propelled 101 field regiment. The objective was the village of Parashayan, which was easily taken as it did not seem to be held.
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From Sep 9 to Sep 15, there was only one real operation which seemed to show sense but that too was aborted as our 62 Cav saw imaginary Pattons on their own eye lashes. This was the Gatt episode on Sep 10 -12 and is covered in some detail in a separate post.
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On Sep 13 and we were relieved by 5/9 Gurkhas at Kaloi and moved to Watchoke. There was some talk of B Coy going with 5 Jats for an attack on Uttar Kalaan but it never materialized. Scattered on one of the roads leading to the Cross Roads, were jeep trailers, which had not yet been scavenged. It was near this road that lying below his Sherman, to be safe from the shelling, Gui Verma of 2 Lancers perusing a Time Magazine. I asked him to loan it once he had finished.
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Early morning of Sep 14 saw us in our forward assembly area at Phillora Crossroads. While Jerry with Kochar, the battery commander and IO Vijay Chander carried out recce towards Kalewali, we came under severe shelling.
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Our aimless, confused hither thither moves were compounded as one night, our brigade HQs was over run. The location was hastily abandoned and Harbans Dhillon Commander 43 Lorried came under an ominous cloud. KK of 1 Armd, whose location he had reached proved of no help. Of course these things happen in peace and war but no need to take advantage of an others misfortune.
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The Garhwalis eventually harbored in Chakdeo Singh on Sep 15, prior to advance and siezure of Buttur Dograndi next day. But there after we were attacked and ousted and the unit more or less disintegrated with the loss of Jerry Jhirad and Rafi Khan and evacuation of self.
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The command then devolved on Som Jhingon. By the way, in the ’71 war too, when Som was the Second in Command and once again became the Commanding officer after the CO broke a leg.

Re Jerry. This quiet unassuming solid soldier was given no award. This speaks volumes of the system, where just about every one from the armored corps received something or other for gallantry in action – even the CO of 62nd Cav, who after the Gatt Battle was earmarked to be sacked by no less than the GOC himself. Yet the guy was polished off with a Sena Medal. The CO Poona Horse died in action and was given an immediate PVC. Another CO, Jerry Jhirad was shot within minutes and in near proximity – yet he got a Mention in Dispatches.

Some one at the time pointed out that in this war at least, Caste, Clan and Corps, had lots to do with awards. Very sad and sadly true. But luck plays its part equally. Take the case of the Gurkha PVC of the ’62 War. When he was told by the Chinese, whose POW he was, that he had been given a posthumous PVC, he was the most surprised person of all!
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There is neither rancor nor bitterness. Only when the truly deserving are neglected does one feel sad. But then that is life. Dear Som J had dearly wanted a gallantry award but like Sonkar and others, he missed out. Yet he got his due much much later in a counter insurgency action – indeed the second highest for gallantry!

Shows you just cannot keep a Good Man Down!

An Assessment Air and Arty

The F 86 Sabres used to mmke their near daily appearance beginning from the first day of the war and every day till the end. They took on our tanks, guns and B vehicles. As always, the F 104s circled high above. On Sep 9, as the Sabres flew low over us, much against Rafeys strong admonitions we began to poop away with whatever we had. If not anything, pooping away boosted morale!
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Through out the war, I noted that the first sabre always dived real low before letting off its lethal rockets. The second let go the rockets much before since his dive which was a mere half dive. The last one hardly dived at all and let go the rockets harmlessly before the level off. This speaks volumes for training and offensive spirit of the first pilot and the amateurishness, lack of training of the other pilots.
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As regards our own air, we seldom saw any of our planes. We rationalized that they were probably doing their stuff else where as its achievements of Sep 1 on the Chamb Sector had raised its stock.
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However there is hardly any incident of note of our Air activity even in the Khem Karan Sector where the Pakistan First Armored and 6 Infantry Divisions were launched. It was our armor and anti tank guns of the likes of Abdul Hamid, which saved the day. What was Air Chief Marshal Arjun Singh doing which earned him laurels?
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Artillery
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Same goes for our artillery. Of course the devastation we saw was all on civilians, cattle and houses. I also noted that the battery commanders and observation officers were seldom calling or directing shoots. Usually they were out of contact with their guns.
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On the other hand we were nearly always being pounded and hammered by the Pakistan artillery and with absolutely lethal effect. It really broke us with its non stop continuity and accuracy. As stated, the Pakistan artillery was miles ahead of us in effective devastation of worthwhile target selection and in just about Every Thing re Artillery.
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Armor
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Our Centurions stood head and shoulders above any other tank, the US Pattons and the Russian/Chinese T Series included. While the Centurions did yeoman service by us, they were upgunned and dieselized by the IsraElis and did glorious work in the ’67 War between the Arabs and the Israelis.
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The Shermans were of not much use. While our employment of armor was in the same level as Pakistan, our gunnery was much much better. This mainly because an earlier divisional commander, General Budhwar, had laid great emphasis on gunnery. He ruled that as accuracy depended on correct judging of distance, every tank must shoot off three shells with a plus minus of a hundred yards of the distance estimated. Hence error in estimating distance would be neutralized.
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Infantry
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I dare say that Pakistan and we were in the same class. Maybe we had an edge because of our young officer leadership.
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After the ’71 war, my unit was detailed to guard the largest Pak POW Camp at Dhana, near Sagar. I always found the prisoners full of spirit and even in their current state as POWs, were very proud persons. Their drill including saluting was superb. In fact I frequently heard from them say that if they had officers like us, nothing could ever defeat them.
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Maybe it was in their interest to say such stuff. But I doubt it.

Gen KM Bhimaya’s Comments on the War –

“My claim to offer comments stems from my posting as a member of the Inter Service Study Team, headed by the late Dr.S.N. Prasad, an erudite historian, who brought in his profound knowledge and analytical skills to the team. We had been tasked to compile the “Official History of the 1965 War’.

“Unfortunately, all of the operational plans/instructions at the Army HQ had been destroyed, under the orders of the highest authority’

“We had to rely on published material, such as journal articles and books, and interviews. It was the considered opinion of the Study Team that the Indian Army failed to exploit the most precious principle of war: surprise. The plans (later modified to match our gains) appeared to be bold, but the execution woefully inadequate. Why would Desmond Hayde, my guru, capture the Bata Shoe Factory on the outskirts of Lahore, if there were no orders to this effect?’

“Why should 26 Inf Div capture Rasulpur, barely 4 miles from Sialkot, and sit tight, without even probing toward the city?

“In the I Corps Zone, surprise was not exploited. In one of the articles, a Pakistan defense analyst, facetiously attributed the limited success, or a lack thereof, of the Indian Army to three factors: ALLAH, ARTILLERY and the INDIAN ARMY!

Reverting to the 1965 war, I am afraid I have to agree with Shekar Gupta’s succint summarization (even when I deplore his partisan attitude toward OROP) “A war which Pakistan lost, and India did not win.”

Pakistan Journos like Ayaz Amir, Ahmed Rashid, Najam Sethi seem far superior to their Indian counterparts. Here is Sep 12, 2012 –Islamabad diary by Ayaz Amir.

Back from a trip to Amritsar and Delhi on Wednesday evening, and too tired to go on to Chakwal as I had meant to – PIA never disappointing, the flight from Delhi late by three hours – I sought refuge under the roof of the Avari, where my poverty usually takes me when in the favored city of the Emperor Jahangir.

And as I sat down to write this on Thursday morning, from somewhere down below on the Mall – it will always be the Mall whatever patriotic name we give it – came the ever-enchanting voice of Noor Jahan the Second, the first being the royal consort of Jahangir. She was singing that haunting song, “Rah-e-haq ke shaheedo…”, a tribute to the martyrs of the 1965 war, and it came suddenly to me that this was the Defense of Pakistan Day, an anniversary remembered with less and less fervor as the years pass…not because respect for our fighting soldiers has in any way diminished but because the truth about that conflict is now more widely understood.

It was a war that Pakistan did not seek; it was a war into which it stumbled. The hawks – the two leading ones being Foreign Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and the 12 Division Commander, Maj Gen Akhtar Hussain Malik – forgot to make the little calculation that any adventure undertaken in Kashmir would impel or tempt India to straighten out the balance somewhere else, at a time and place of its choosing.

When our Kashmir adventure turned into a serious threat to Indian forces in Kashmir, to no one’s surprise except ours Indian forces crossed the international border on the front stretching from Sialkot to Lahore. Our soldiers fought bravely, at places magnificently, as did junior officers up to the level of battalion commanders. A few brigadiers too distinguished themselves. (The Indian official account of the war, which can be read on the net, generously mentions the performance of some of our fighting units.)

And of course the air force acquitted itself superbly. But if one looks for Mansteins in the higher echelons of command one is likely to be disappointed. There were none, not one strategic manoeuvre worth remembering.

Our self-appointed field marshal, Ayub Khan Tareen, lived to rue his blunder. After the war he was no longer the same man and his grip on national affairs weakened.

The supreme irony of course was that Bhutto whose role in pushing the war was second to none exploited the outcome, and the subsequent Tashkent agreement, to spread the insinuation that had not Ayub chickened out our forces would have won a signal triumph, which of course was complete nonsense.

But he could have been preaching to the mountains. The ceasefire when it came, with no little pushing by the superpowers, came not a moment too soon for our exhausted high command.

But for years and years the myth persisted and it was woven into national legend, that India was out to destroy Pakistan and would have succeeded but for our brave armed forces. The Defense of Pakistan Day commemorates this historiography. This myth would not have mattered if it had not led to lasting, and baleful, consequences. We had a fairly open relationship with India until then.

But with the war the barriers went up and all ties were cut; defense spending sharply increased; more divisions were raised. The ramparts of the national security state rose higher. And barriers went up in our minds as well. India was the enemy and this doctrine superseded all others.

We had been doing fairly well economically, ahead then of such states as Malaysia and South Korea. The war put us off the rails completely. (The only good to come of it were the war songs of Noor Jahan, which are still a marvel to listen to.) With the 1971 war the dogmas learned from the 1965 conflict were reinforced.

Strange, is it not, that the brightest politician of his age should have been the prime carrier of this policy of revanchism and hate? We will fight for a thousand years, was one of his clarion calls, anti-Indianism a plank – nay, an essential component – of his extraordinary success in Punjab in the 1970 elections. And it was Punjab which catapulted him to national power, not Sindh. Think again…

Punjab dyed in the hues of chauvinism, the country as a whole wedded to the notion of undying hostility towards India…the high priest of this doctrine was the secular, de luxe whisky-sipping (occasionally guzzling) Bhutto. Who listens to the boring lectures, or the stale oratory, of the custodians of the two-nation theory headquartered permanently in Lahore? Bhutto’s oratory had a mesmeric effect on the Punjabi mind. And his oratory had two key components: pseudo-revolutionism and jingoistic nationalism.

Only now are the barriers raised then coming down slowly, not because of any fresh dawn of enlightenment but the pressure of cruel circumstance. Our army is engaged in no fake adventure on the eastern front. It is caught in a real and brutal war on our western marches, battling an enemy all the more sinister because the strength and staying power of that enemy comes not from evil Jew or conniving Hindu but from within our own ranks.

Our Indian wars, no matter the causes, were simple, black-and-white affairs. We knew who the army was and Noor Jahan had no trouble singing the glories of our valor, real or imaginary.

The war we are now engaged in is so much more complex because the enemy is not only the visible enemy we see, cutting the throats of our soldiers in the name of Islam. The enemy is also our own confusion which still cannot make out what is at stake. At stake is the nation’s soul, its direction. We emerge from the smoke and fire of this conflict and we can hope for national salvation. We lose, or remain victims of confusion, and we might as well seek a confederation with Somalia or the Sudan (with apologies to both these nations).

A Pakistan which has forsaken the tolerance sought to be inculcated by its founding fathers, a Pakistan losing no sleep at the persecution of its minorities and the killing of Shias, a country which can countenance the victimization of an Aasia Bibi or a Rimsha Masih, is a country in dire need of asking some hard questions of itself. All injustice is bad; injustice perpetrated in the name of religion is infinitely worse. We can be such hypocrites. Are the lives of the Caliphs dead pieces of parchment or living examples to follow? What would the great Omar have done if after a short absence from Makkah he had come to know of the plight of a young Christian girl, Rimsha Masih?

There and then he would have fired the interior minister, the Rehman Malik of his time, and asked the inspector general of police, the kotwal, to run round the city walls with a knapsack on his back. And he would have carried the girl Rimsha on his shoulders to her house and asked her mother if they had enough to eat, and if anything was found wanting, on bended knee he would have cried for Allah’s forgiveness. For was it not Omar who said that if a dog went hungry by the banks of the Euphrates he, the Caliph, would be asked about it on the Day of Judgment?

The Islam which spread so fast from the sands of the Hejaz was a thing of achievement and glory. And to think what we have made of it in this republic founded in the name of Islam?”

That is the end apart from a personal aside on our Arty –

There was this Lt Avtar Singh of our only Medium Regt whom I came across a few days after we had entered Pakistan. This officer, on hearing me lambasting and lamenting our artillery, took me up and promised to show me a thing or two once he was in support of our brigade – he was an OP operating from a tank.Alas a day later as he was directing fire a direct hit on the turret of his tank sent his arm swirling in the air —-

We met a half century later, courtesy Capt Amarinder, who had old 65 War Veterans for dinner as Maj Shamshad whose Patton had been disabled by a Strim from my company, was also present – again courtesy the Patiala Royal. Avtar and I chatted for over an hour and then he asks me if I knew one Capt Bhullar from the Garhwalis – I nearly killed him!

Any way he remains one Good Gunner!

PS And Here is Gen KMB –

“When Jogi Bhullor appeared sans his turban and beard on the parade ground, an amused Jack Dias (of Everest fame) jocularly remarked ” You look like Bert Lancaster. From that time onwards, Jogi came to be known as “Bert”. We did the Weapons and the SC courses together. So I know him pretty well. Jogi was wounded twice in ’65. He was also the chief architect of our very successful Centenary celebrations in 1987. In sum, a very courageous and unflappable officer.”

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Nehru-Gandhi’s Pollute India …

Posted on November 20, 2018. Filed under: Personalities |

This is a Killer Missile from Preet K S Bedi on FB … 
Going from Rajghat to the airport in Delhi? That’s easy.     

Having ruminated over the havoc one rogue sperm can cause after seeing the samadhis of Nehru, Indira, Rajiv and Sanjay Gandhi, head southwards.

If after 5 minutes you find the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium to your left, you will know you are on the right path. Turn right and head westwards. Avoid Rajiv Chowk; it may be too crowded.

Turn left and find yourself in Lutyen’s Delhi; enjoy the drive. After crossing Sonia Gandhi’s house, hit Moti Lal Nehru Marg with Rahul Gandhi’s house to the left. From there to Indira Gandhi Smark is the matter of a couple of minutes.

Keep driving westwards past Nehru House at Teen Murthi House, Nehru Library, Nehru Planetarium and Nehru Yuvak Kendra. Drive around the Nehru Park and Nehru Rose Garden and turn right.

Its more or less a straight road now till you hit Indira Gandhi Road and finally the Indira Gandhi Airport.

Should you find this route too old-world Lutyens there is an option.

Don’t turn right after Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium, keep going straight till you hit the Nehru Stadium, turn right, cross the Indira Gandhi Paryavaran House and Rajiv Gandhi Avionics Museum.

Continue going south, avoid the crowded Nehru Lane to your left and Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Hospital to your right.

Turn right at the Nehru University. Keep headed west till you hit the Indira Gandhi Road which leads to the Indira Gandhi Airport.

If you have time and are in the mood to see real Delhi, take a short detour after Nehru Stadium and check out the chaos of Nehru Place, turn right and go past Nehru Apartments to your left.

But avoid the temptation of checking out the Indira Gandhi Open University though its only a hop, step and jump from Nehru Place cos the area is far too crowded and u may miss ur flight.

Google is designed by humans after all and can sometimes get confused with too many Nehrus and Gandhis.

If you find yourself facing a board that says Sanjay Gandhi Transport Nagar, Sanjay Gandhi Hospital or Sonia Vihar, know ye, that you have made a mistake and have definitely missed your flight.

Sit back in your car and curse the family which didn’t know when to stop!

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Mohd Ali – the Man …

Posted on November 16, 2018. Filed under: Personalities |

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A 19 Century Parsee …

Posted on October 25, 2018. Filed under: Personalities |

The Wire’s –  Behramji Malabari …

Behramji Malabari (1853-1912) was social reformer, journalist, poet, travel writer/ethnographer and vital catalyst of change, who did much to shape the national reform discourse in late-19th century Western India.

Born in Baroda and raised in Surat, Malabari moved to Bombay at age 15 and the metropolis became the central site of his myriad investigations into identity and reform, including questions on what it meant to be a Parsi in this city, at the heart of Empire, as opposed to in rural Gujarat.

Malabari had two biographies written about him before he was 40; another shortly after his death in 1912, and then disappeared almost completely from the pages of both Parsi and national reform histories, reduced at best to a mere footnote.

I am the Widow: An Intellectual Biography of Behramji Malabari (Orient Blackswan, 2018) attempts to examine the reasons for this erasure. The following excerpt is drawn from its analysis of Malabari’s scathing indictment of some sections of the Bombay (and wider) Parsi community at the turn of the 19th-century.

We now turn to Malabari’s reading of the Parsi community in his chapter on them in Gujarat and the Gujaratis (1882) which marks the beginning of a career-spanning musing about the writer’s community, its place in India, and his place within it as a social reformer.

The chapter essentially deals with the condition of the rural, more conservative Parsi community settled in Gujarat, and not their peers in ‘reformed’ Bombay.

Sounding a note of ominous doom at the outset, Malabari starts by saying that the Parsis of Surat – long the “head-quarters” of the community –“have fallen upon evil days”.

This is largely because the “Shettia” or aristocratic class has become “by training, lazy, listless, gregarious… grovelling for generations in one and the same groove”.

To his mind, this class cannot understand patriotism, by which he means more than mere loyalty to the British crown: patriotism here seems to be invested with that spirit of public service which marks – to one such as him – the entire colonial enterprise.

Neither do they remember the virtue of “charity…the very basis of their grand old faith”. His choice of the distancing ‘their’ can be read as follows: he does not, by virtue of habit and present circumstance, number himself in the list of Parsi ‘Gujaratis’.

This can be read as a further bid to place or project himself as Parsi, but simultaneously and importantly, more than Parsi; to stake a claim for himself as a national reformer.

Malabari explains his grievances by elaborating, “No doubt our Shetts are loyal to the British Crown; but to what ruling power have they ever been disloyal? Loyalty is their policy, their interest”, and not a matter of ethical or philosophical consent.

Tongue firmly in cheek, he adds that he has no further quarrel with these ‘Shetts’, who are largely “honest, peace-loving citizens” who seldom beat their wives, and have only a few “old-gentlemanly vices” to counterbalance their many “old-gentlemanly virtues”.

The Sheths in Bombay, he holds, come out a little better than the ones in the countryside, but even they are not spared from the problems that are attendant to ‘priestly influence’.

Malabari then proceeds to discuss the relative merits (or lack thereof) of the Parsi Panchayat as an institution. It is, he says, “a highly respectable body” before qualifying the statement by adding, “but it seems to be a body without a soul”.

Making clear the disdain in which he holds the orthodox faction which controls this institution, his description of the Panchayat Sheth is as hilarious as it is acutely sarcastic. He writes that this Sheth is, as a rule:

A prim old man, well shaven, well washed, and well scented. This faultlessly white being walks as if he were a basket of newly-laid eggs…(and) seems to be in dread of progress, of the very motion of life…he hates action of any kind (and) hugs indolence, rejoices in its company and revels in its seductive bosom.

When, once in six months, he is required to attend to a little public business, he helplessly turns to his steward and asks broken-hearted, “Oh! What’s to do again?” as if only an hour ago he had done some tremendous deed of heroism for his country.

The Shett sits down with a grimace, stands up with a yawn, salutes with an ogle or with a rather original parting of the lips, which process he flatters himself is a smile.

He is sensitively nervous about his health. He will not get out of his carriage till a few minutes after it has stopped; this is to avoid any internal agitation which might follow a hasty descent…

Except in these respects, the Shett is a very worthy citizen, and a thoroughly loyal subject of her Majesty. But he has no strength, no stamina. He can look no man in the face.

Towards the end of crafting out of India a “mighty, puissant nation” Malabari says that a “glorious middle class” which is educated and “goes on educating itself” is the only way forward, and besides keeping abreast of the latest advances in the arts and sciences, people (here, the Parsis) have to learn “patriotism and to abjure priestcraft,” replacing in the process, the current system with a “new national church, founded on the simple tradition of good thought, good word, and good deed, bequeathed by Zoroaster.

Let them weed their scriptures of its verbiage”. His translation of humata, hukata, hurvashta (‘good thoughts’, ‘good words’ and ‘good deeds’ respectively) as the foundational creed of the ‘new’, ‘purged’ Zoroastrian ‘church’, without the Dastur as intermediary, while echoing Dadabhai Naoroji and other reformers, goes some way towards explaining the discomfort Malabari clearly caused in some quarters of the Bombay Parsi orthodoxy.

These views clearly contributed to his ‘omission’ from any major role when the history of the community was variously narrated in and after the twentieth century. The ‘ideal’ community, Malabari says, cannot come about until there is “sincerity in all we do” and a “rational scheme for life”, neither of which the Parsis could then lay claim to…

Next, the reader is provided with a note on the ‘Reformed Parsi’ of the period. In the interest of objectivity, this sketch is as critical as the ones preceding it. Malabari says he doubts whether young or ‘Reformed’ Parsis are Zoroastrians at all.

Were these youth to live outside the ambit of organised religion altogether, but live lives of purity and honesty, Malabari says he would mind it a lot less than their present behaviour. However, he is quick to attribute this to the fact that there is currently underway a “transition period” in national existence which has led to “wavering” and indecision “at every stage of thought and action”.

Apart from this, the bane of the Parsi youth’s existence remains, as ever, the Dastur (priest). On this note, the keen ethnographer launches into a full frontal attack on the lowest kind of priest, tracing en route “his origin; rise; decline; his fall unfathomable; his ways of life; his sympathies, antipathies, and miseries; (and) what to do with him”.

This title fairly sums up not just the content, but also the tone of the text which follows it: sarcastic in the extreme, resorting to devices of over and understatement to establish the non-credentials of the priestly community or, as Malabari puts it, “the ignis fatuus (literally translated, ‘foolish fire’) of the dark ages of religion”, a line clearly illustrating why the Parsi orthodoxy – then or since – have no love lost for Malabari…

In addition, the dastur is an immensely hypocritical creature who will “never eat or drink with the Hindu or Mussalman, though he may take a cup of tea or a glass of ice-cream with a European official”, an attitude indicative of the axis along which the Parsis would have themselves aligned.

It was convenient even for then-contemporary histories of the Parsi community (from those by D.F. Karaka to Darukhanawala, and European scholars like C.A. Kincaid writing about the community as ‘the lost Greeks’ in East & West) to focus on the ‘alien-ness’ of the Parsis despite their lengthy stay – and obvious assimilation – in India, because it suited their purposes to be seen/placed or acknowledged, alongside the English, as fellow ‘outsiders’ to the Indian ethos.

This rendered the community both useful to the English as well as ‘different’ enough from ‘Indians’ to allow for different rules of engagement with the rulers to apply to them.

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Pioneer of #Me Too …

Posted on October 15, 2018. Filed under: Mars & Venus, Personalities |

The Wire – As the #MeToo storm rages across the country, provoking anger and outrage, and also for the first time a creeping fear in the hearts of serial sexual predators who operated till now with carefree impunity, one woman is watching the developments with quiet satisfaction.

From her residence in Chandigarh, retired IAS officer Rupan Deol Bajaj is delighted that after 30 years, her 17 and Half Year struggle to punish the powerful man who sexually harassed her is resonating in the stories flooding social media.

Her oppressor was the all powerful K.P.S. Gill, Director General of Police in Punjab in 1988, who had a sense of  “untrammelled power and arrogance” in the days when his force was battling terrorism.

“Today the women speaking out have safety in numbers. When I called out the behaviour of Mr Gill, I stood all alone, threatened with death, slander, given punishment postings and a blighted career,” says Bajaj.

“I secured a conviction under the archaic Sections 354 and 509 of the Indian Penal Code; the two sections under which no one had ever filed a case since 1860, when the British first drafted the IPC. These sections are usually clubbed with Section 376 for rape or attempt to rape, but never in isolation’.

“This, because offences that fall under these sections are considered too trivial to even merit a FIR, as I learnt the hard way. But they are an affront to the dignity and honour of a woman and can traumatise her for life. Rape falls under the purview of Section 376′.

“I believe that actions that fall under Sections 354 and 509 of the IPC are universal to the extent that almost all women experience it at least five or six times in their lives’.

“Section 509 deals with words, gestures or actions intended to insult the modesty of a woman and section 354 deals with assault or criminal force with the intention of outraging the modesty of a woman’.

“These are a set of provisions different from physical assault, but which deal with crimes only against women as there is an element of modesty involved. So, all those men who think that unwanted lewd gestures or talking dirty are not offences, need to worry.’

“It was the Supreme Court on October 12, 1995 which upheld the crime against me in this category, describing it as a criminal offence. In doing so, the SC rejected the judgement of the high court which dismissed the case under Section 95 of IPC, a ground that it was too trivial a matter to be considered as an offence’.

“The SC held that Section 95 of the IPC cannot be a shelter in cases relating to outraging the modesty of a women because these are not trivial matters”.

Evening in July 1988, when it all happened.

“This was an official party at the house of the home secretary of Punjab and Mr Gill was present in his uniform. The entire top bureaucracy of Punjab was there and Mr Gill called me to come and sit on the chair next to him. I went and was about to sit, when he pulled the chair close to himself. Sensing something amiss, I went back to the group where I was sitting’.

“After ten minutes, he came and stood so close to me that his legs were four inches from my knees. He made an action with the crook of his finger asking me to stand and said, “You get up. You come along with me.”

“I strongly objected to his behaviour and told him, “Mr. Gill How dare you! You are behaving in an obnoxious manner, go away from here”. Whereupon he repeated his words like a command and said, “You get up! Get up immediately and come along with me.”

“I looked to the other ladies, all of whom looked shocked and speechless. I felt apprehensive and frightened, as he had blocked my way and I could not get up from my chair without my body touching his body. I then immediately drew my chair back about a foot and half and quickly got up and turned to get out of the circle through the space between mine and another lady’s chair. Whereupon he slapped me on the posterior. This was done in the full presence of the ladies and guests’.

“It was only later that I realised that most of the ladies in the circle where I was sitting had got up and left because he had misbehaved with them too. In particular was a young doctor from England. He had done much worse with her and she was crying inside. But neither she, nor her mother who was also present, complained about what happened to her that evening. I knew that they would not stand witness in my defence, when they were not even standing up for themselves. Anything like this happening to a woman is considered shameful, something to keep hidden. Then, and even now’.

“I went straight to the home secretary who was the host and Mr Gill’s boss and said, “What kind of people you have invited?” Gill was without any compunction and stood right there while I complained. By now everyone knew that he had upset the other women too so they put him in his car to be sent home’.

“Years later when the home secretary was called to corroborate the events of the evening, he did not tell the court that I had repeated my complaint in the presence of K.P.S. Gill within minutes of the incident, while Gill was swaying and hearing every word of what I said’.

“You know, I did not actually want to go to the police and fight it in the courts…. I wanted the government to take executive action under conduct rules for moral turpitude against him. But everyone from the then Governor S.S. Ray to chief secretary R.S. Ojha told me that they will not do anything. The chief secretary said to me, “Rupan these things keep happening. You are not diminished. Consider yourself lucky, it could have been worse…”

“The Governor, S.S. Ray, very clearly told me to forget it and go home. He would not do anything. I even went to Sarla Grewal, then secretary in the PMO.  All this made me angrier than ever. I was keeping it from the media too, but one Mumbai-based newspaper, the Indian Post, splashed the story the day after I met Ray’.

“When everything else failed, I went to the police as a last resort, ten days after the incident. V.N. Singh, the inspector general of police, who had seen everything as he was also present at the party that day, took my complaint, gave me a receipt that it had been registered. He then put it in an envelope and sealed it. When I asked him why he had sealed it, he said, “It is my duty to register your complaint, which I have done, but what I do with it after that is entirely up to me. We will investigate only when you get a mandamus from the court.”

“And he very patronisingly told me that his action will somehow save my reputation. I gave a copy of the FIR to the Indian Express because I wanted my version of events to come out instead of the half truths being spoken around. It took me another seven years to get the direction from the SC to prosecute Gill’.

“Even as I ran around trying to persuade the government to take action, there was the constant fear that this should not come out in the open. I did not want media coverage. This is the social conditioning we all grow up with. The die is cast once you write it all down in the FIR. Even my highly educated mother dissuaded me from registering a FIR. I was asked to cry over it privately and move on’.

“Once I drafted the FIR and gave it to the police and the media, I felt liberated and unburdened from the fear of the world coming to know about it. I was an empowered woman but the system and society were conspiring to disempower me. My family and I received death threats. People would call up and say you will disappear and no one will hear of you again. Remember, this was the Punjab of the ’80s when mysterious disappearances were the order of the day’.

“I am so gratified to see so many women coming out to talk about their trauma. Many are doing so years after they were harassed. Make no mistake, this is the most difficult and courageous thing for a woman to do and no one can doubt her when she finally decides to speak’.

Donald Trump is saying, “This is a scary time for men.” I say this is a scary time only for those who were at it with impunity for years. Women, who are 50% of the population are believing the #Me Too stories  because similar things have happened to most of them at some point of time or the other. It resonates with their own experiences. Majority of men in the society are good, but we also know this to be true’.

“My case has set a precedent which will benefit them all. For a change women are being believed. They should not back down at all, and if M.J. Akbar and others say they will take them to court, let them fight it collectively; but they must not compromise’.

“Firstly, the court has defined ‘modesty’ for the first time in my case as it applies to these two sections of IPC. Secondly, the court has laid down that to prove such matters, one witness is enough and the victim herself is the best witness, as long as she is being truthful. Thirdly, in every crime, the prosecution has to prove the intention of the accused. But here it was held that there is no need to prove intention, but just his knowledge of having acted indecently is sufficient to prosecute a person. Fourthly, the court set a time limit of six months in which to complete the trial, so as to ensure that the victim is not deliberately tired out in long-drawn litigation’.

“The difference now is that none of these women need to take the men to court. Their having had the courage to speak on social media is enough for everyone to believe them. It is the single most important validation of  the truth.  If the accused man goes to court, then my precedent gives them ample ammunition to fight it there”.

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