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1971 War - Triumph of Indian leadership

The Indian Renaissance was truly born on December 16, 1971, with the victory in Bangladesh. It was a triumph of leadership, both military and political. Lessons learned from earlier conflicts were put to good use that brought us victory. Mandeep Singh Bajwa writes

chandigarh Updated: Dec 04, 2012 10:45 IST
Mandeep Singh Bajwa

The Indian Renaissance was truly born on December 16, 1971, with the victory in Bangladesh. It was a triumph of leadership, both military and political. Lessons learned from earlier conflicts were put to good use that brought us victory.

The political leadership was sagacious enough to act on the considered advice of the Services Chiefs. Sam Manekshaw, Charles Nanda and Pratap Lal and their field commanders - Aurora, Candeth, Sagat Singh, Sartaj Singh, Minoo Engineer, Harry Dewan, SN Kohli, N Krishnan (to name a few) provided exceptional leadership. Manekshaw and his colleagues withstood pressure from the Cabinet to intervene in East Pakistan till the time they were ready, had tied up logistics, made up shortages in equipment and ammunition, made comprehensive coordinated plans and taken care of contingencies. Most of all, they motivated the men under their command to give their best.

So how did the Defence Services create a new nation within a fortnight? Through meticulous planning, preparation and close cooperation - the seamless working together of the three Services, intelligence agencies, paramilitary forces and civil agencies. The cooperation displayed by all three Services working together in the pursuit of a national goal was awesome.

The Armed Forces leadership of 1971 was forged in the demanding environment of the North-West Frontier between two World Wars, tempered by fire in World War 2, and came of age through all free India's wars and insurgencies. They were truly the best and gave their best. The politicians reposed their faith in them and so did the nation. The emerging grave security scenario demands the materialisation of just such a creative, practical leadership in the current times, bound irrevocably to the time-honoured code of honour of Indian soldiers.

Hav Gurnam Singh
Havildar Gurnam Singh from Sampli, district Fatehgarh Sahib, was enrolled into 2nd Sikh in 1961, getting pensioned in 1979. He drew his pension from the Defence Pension Disbursing Officer (DPDO), Chandigarh, until November 1995 when he failed to record his presence for the purpose of being 'certified alive'. Representations and submission of the required certificates failed to move the DPDO's office. Facing harassment at the hands of petty officials, Gurnam Singh approached the NGO, Ex-Servicemen's Grievance Cell, headed by the indefatigable Colonel SS Sohi.

Their untiring efforts backed up by a comprehensive knowledge of the pension system and arcane rules bore fruit and the brave soldier's pension was restored with effect from July 1, 2012, after a gap of 17 years with the promise of release of arrears of the last five years. Now the battle is on to get his full arrears paid to him.

Why can't the government put in place a better, more streamlined system to ensure that those who risked their lives for the country are not left at the mercy of petty-minded babus for what is after all only their right?

Capt Saurabh Kalia
Recently, during a discussion on a leading news channel, Brigadier Javed Hussain, a former Pakistani special forces officer, admitted that 'irregulars' rather than regular Pakistan army were involved in the inhuman torture and killing in custody of Captain Saurabh Kalia and the five men of his patrol from 4 Jat - Sepoys Arjun Ram Baswana, Mula Ram Bidiasar, Naresh Singh Sinsinwar, Bhanwar Lal Bagaria and Bhika Ram Mudh.

By irregulars, one presumes that he meant foreign mercenaries waiting to be infiltrated into J&K. These would probably be tribals from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) belt or Afghanistan who are known to indulge in such barbaric practices on the battlefield. However, he clarified that they were operating under the command of the Pakistani forces, and therefore that country bears liability for their crimes. This revelation certainly deserves to be followed up with a detailed investigation, leading to prosecution. Keeping the process of dialogue with Pakistan alive must not preclude us from getting justice for our six soldiers who have been so brutally murdered.

Greetings on Navy Day
41 years ago, on this day, the Indian Navy's 25th 'Killer' Missile Boat Squadron under the command of Commander Babru Bhan Yadav launched a daring attack on Karachi. The Vidyut/Soviet Osa Class missile boats INS Nipat, INS Nirghat and INS Veer unleashed their SS-N-2b Styx missiles, sinking the Pakistani destroyer PNS Khaibar, minesweeper PNS Muhafiz and the merchantman MV Venus Challenger carrying ammunition for the Pakistani forces and severely damaged the destroyer PNS Shah Jahan. They also attacked the Kemari oil farm, leaving the tanks ablaze. December 4 has henceforth been celebrated as Navy Day.

With a fast growing fleet, the latest technology, the imminent acquisition of indigenous nuclear-powered submarine INS Arihant and completion of the nuclear triad, the Navy is poised to become a vital, strategic factor in the stability of the Indian Ocean region.

The author welcomes readers' feedback, comments, suggestions and personal narratives of war and soldiering. Please email him at msbajwa@gmail.com or call him on 093161-35343