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Indian Army's Cowardice and Panic By RD Pradhan

A full-page Indian Army advertisement published in major Hindi national dailies recently says that the Indian forces responded to the Pakistan attack with fear (darkar muqabala kiya). It was later clarified as a typographical error which changed "datkar muqabla kiya" to "darkar muqabla kiya".

An ad in a national Hindi daily saying India ‘countered the Pakistan attack with fear (darkar muqabala kiya)’

Freudian Slip?

Let's examine whether the typo was in fact a Freudian slip: An unintentional error that revealed the real truth.  The best source to examine it is "1965 War: The Inside Story", an authoritative book on 1965 war written by RD Pradhan who was personal assistant to Indian Defense Minister Y.B. Chavan in 1965. Mr. Pradhan has based his book on Mr. Chavan's diaries kept during the war.

Indian Cowardice and Panic:

Mr. Pradhan has devoted an entire chapter of his book to how General Jayanto Nath Chaudhuri, the Indian Army Chief, badly panicked when Pakistani forces mounted a fierce counter-attack during 1965 war. At one point, Gen Chaudhuri ordered Gen Harbakhash Singh to pull back behind the Beas, essentially leaving much of Indian Punjab to Pakistan.

In Chapter 8 titled "Of Cowardice and Panic" of his book "1965 War-The Inside Story", R.D. Pradhan describes the cowardice of Maj. Gen. Niranjan Prasad, the Indian general commanding officer in Kasur sector.  When Pakistan Defense Forces counter-attacked the intruding Indian military and the general was fired upon on Sept 6, 1965, he "ran away".  Here's an excerpt:

"On learning that, Lt. Gen. Harbakash Singh and the corps commander drove in a Jonga (Nissan P60 Jeep) to the battlefront. Army commander found that the enemy (PAF) air attack had created a havoc on G.T. Road. (Indian) Vehicles were burning and several vehicles of 15 Division abandoned on the road, the drivers having run away, leaving some of the engines still running. Maj. Gen. Niranjan Prasad was hiding in a recently irrigated sugar cane field. As described by Harabakash Singh: "He (Prasad) came out to receive us, with his boots covered with wet mud. He had no head cover, nor was he wearing any badges of his rank. He had stubble on his face, not having shaved." Seeing him in such a stage, Harbakhash Singh asked him: "Whether he was the General Officer commanding a division or a coolie? Why had he removed badges of rank and not shaved? Niranjan Prasad had no answer." 

Retreat to Beas: 

Chapter 12 of Pradhan's book is titled "Retreat to Beas" in which there is detailed discussion of Indian COAS's proposal for the Indian Army to retreat behind Beas in the face of Pakistan's fierce counter-attacks after India's attempted incursion in Lahore. Pradhan argues in this chapter that during the 1965 war with Pakistan, Indian COAS General Chaudhuri feared that "a major battle the west of the Beas would end in the destruction of the Indian Army and thereafter allow the enemy (Pakistani) forces to push to the gates of Delhi without much resistance".

Pradhan's book contains many different entries by Indian Defense Minister Y.B. Chavan. A Sept 9, 1965 entry reads:  

Had a very hard day on all fronts. Very fierce counter-attacks mounted and we are required to withdraw in Kasur area. COAS was somewhat uncertain of himself. I suggested to him that he should go in forward areas so that he will be in touch of realities. He said he would go next day.

Harbakhash Singh Memoirs:

In Line of Duty: A Soldier Remembers, according to Shekhar Gupta, the editor of Indian Express, Lt Gen Harbakhsh Singh reveals that not only "did Gen Chowdhury play a very small role in the entire campaign, he was so nervous as to be on the verge of losing half of Punjab to Pakistan, including the city of Amritsar. Harbakhsh describes, in clinical detail, how our own offensive in the Lahore sector had come unhinged. The general commanding the division on Ichchogil canal fled in panic, leaving his jeep, its wireless running and the briefcase containing sensitive documents that were then routinely read on Radio Pakistan during the war. Singh wanted to court martial him, Chowdhury let him get away with resignation".

According to Shekhar Gupta, Harbkhash Singh recounts that a bigger disaster struck a bit to the south where the other division cracked up in assault, just as it encountered a bit of resistance. Several infantry battalions, short on battle inoculation, deserted and Singh gives a hair-raising account – and confirmation of a long-debated rumor – that Chowdhury panicked so badly he ordered him to withdraw to a new defensive line behind the Beas, thereby conceding half of Punjab to Pakistan. Singh describes the conversation with Chowdhury at Ambala where he refused to carry out the order, asking his chief to either put it down in writing or visit the front and take charge of the battle.

India was the first to accept UN sponsored ceasefire (page 100 of RD Pradhan's bo... on Sept 21 followed by Pakistan on Sept 22, bringing the 1965 war to an end on Sept 22, 1965. As the ceasefire took effect, Indian Defense Y.B. Chavan wrote in his diary as follows:

"The ball is now in the political court again--where it should be--and not in the military one. I hope we have the vision and courage to (our) political leadership."


Alas, the core issue of Kashmir still remains unresolved 48 years since Mr. Chavan wrote his words of wisdom. And, unfortunately, India's Hindu Nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi refuses to even talk about the Kashmir issue, much less resolve it.

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Views: 996

Comment by Riaz Haq on August 23, 2015 at 9:18pm

Congress Leader Capt Amarinder Singh: "#India almost lost #Amritsar in 1965 war" via @sharethis

Fifty years after the 1965 Indo-Pak war, deputy leader of Congress in the Lok Sabha, Captain Amarinder Singh, has shed new light on an order allegedly given by the then Army Chief to withdraw Indian Army troops in Punjab, which could have led to the surrender of Amritsar.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Amarinder revealed he is writing a book on the 1965 war to mark its 50th anniversary. The book will trace battles fought in various theatres during the war, and give detailed information about several contentious issues.
One of these is an order allegedly given by then Chief of Army Staff Gen J N Chaudhari to the then General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Western Command, Lt Gen Harbaksh Singh, to withdraw Indian troops in Punjab. The order, had it been carried out, would have meant the surrender of Amritsar to the Pakistan Army, besides causing panic among Indian troops.
In September 1965, the Pakistan Army surprised Indian defenders in the Khemkaran Sector in Punjab when their armoured division made a dash towards the town of Khemkaran and captured it. The Indian Army had to pull back towards the village of Asal Uttar to consolidate their defence. The Pakistani division was believed to be in a three-pronged attack in which one column was heading towards south of Amritsar, one towards the town of Jandiala and another towards Beas. After the initial surprise, the Indian Army reinforced its presence in the area and the Pakistani advance was defeated in the Battle of Asal Uttar. The village is now known as the graveyard of Patton tanks.
Amarinder, who was the aide-de-camp of the GOC-in-C during the war, said he was a witness to the fact that Lt Gen Harbaksh received a call from Gen Chaudhuri late at night while the Pakistani armoured offensive in Khemkaran was under way. Gen Chaudhuri wanted the Indian troops to withdraw to river Beas, which would serve as a natural barrier to stop the advance of Pakistan’s armoured division.
“We had returned from Khemkaran very late and the general had gone to sleep when I received the call from the chief and put it through to the army commander. The general was heard telling the chief that he would not carry out those orders, and if he wanted this to be done, he should put it down in writing,” said Amarinder.
According to the former Punjab CM, the army chief went to Ambala the next day and met the GOC-in-C but did not mention his order of the previous night, because by then the battle in Asal Uttar had stabilised and the situation was under control.
“Had it been anyone other than Lt Gen Harbaksh, he would not have been able to resist the orders of the army chief. And had those orders been carried out, we would have had to surrender Amritsar, and the road from Beas onwards to Delhi would have been open because there would have been general panic. It would have been a repeat of 1962,” said Amarinder.
The book, expected to be out later this year, and will also include details about why several brigade and battalion commanders were removed from command during the war. Having witnessed the war from the vantage point of an army commander’s staff, Amarinder will be using the information to give a clearer version of what happened in those fateful days of September 1965

Comment by Riaz Haq on August 28, 2015 at 9:33pm

Indian journalist Shivam Vij on 1965 War: "India's own official history of the war, published only two years ago, is scathing in its review of how poorly the Indian army and air force performed. The Indian armed forces are now rewriting the history to show that it was a clear victory....On the outskirts of Srinagar, to make sure that no Pakistani fighters were hiding in an area, an entire colony was set on fire by Indian forces. I have been to that place, and people remember that even today, blaming India for being insensitive. The war showed it was not going to be easy for Pakistan to liberate Kashmir militarily, and though the Kashmiris didn't rise up with the Pakistani fighters, it exacerbated a conflict between India's security forces and the locals in Kashmir."

Comment by Riaz Haq on August 31, 2015 at 3:37pm

Manoj Joshi Op Ed published in India on 1965 war.

This is what the commander of the main effort, Lt Gen Harbakhsh had to say about the main thrust to Lahore that faltered on day one itself, largely due to incompetent leadership of the division and its brigades.

Also read: Why Lt Gen Harbakhsh Singh's book on 1965 war is important to read today

Surprise attack

On September 6, XI Corps launched a surprise attack at 4am, led to the crossing of the Ichhogil canal and the capture of the Bata shoe factory on the outskirts of Lahore by 11am. But the senior commanders could not cope with the situation and ordered a withdrawal to the east bank of the canal by that evening.

Despite capturing some 140sq mi of land, and crippling Pakistan's 1st armoured division at Khem Karan, XI Corps performance, Singh says it was "a sickening repetition of command failures leading the sacrifice of a series of cheap victories."

The performance of India's premier I Corps, built around the 1st armoured division, was no less disappointing. I Corps captured 200sq mi of territory and destroyed a great deal of Pakistani armour. But it did not deliver what it was meant to - a decisive battlefield victory.

"With the exception of a few minor successes… The operational performance was virtually a catalogue of lost victories." Singh praised the performance of units like the Poona Horse, but was harsh in his judgement of the higher commanders.

Harbakhsh's third corps - the XV Corps, which then, as now, looks after Kashmir, fared better. It gained an unambiguous victory in capturing the Haji Pir Pass and in defeating Operation Gibraltar.

However, it was battered by the surprise attack launched by Pakistan in the Chamb sector on September 1. India also launched an offensive in the Rajasthan sector with a view of tying down Pakistani forces in Sind. But the plan was poorly conceived and executed. There was no joint planning, leave alone coordination, between the Air Force and the Army. This led to the Lahore fiasco when Pakistani air strikes disrupted the Indian offensive on September 6.

Despite seeing action on September 1 in Chamb, the IAF was unprepared for the strike on September 6 when the Pakistan air force (PAF) destroyed 13 aircrafts in a raid on Pathankot, including two new MiG-21s. Similar raids found the IAF station Kalaikunda in the east unawares leading to the destruction of eight aircraft on the ground.

Shoddy intelligence

Intelligence was equally shoddy. India failed to pick up the fact that the Pakistanis had surreptitiously raised an additional armoured division and the IAF could not locate the PAF aircraft in East Pakistan.

There are of course, bigger questions. Indian accounts claim that there was no plan to capture Lahore. If not, then why were three divisions thrown at it? And if the plan was to just carry out shallow attrition attacks, it nearly came a cropper in Khem Karan when Pakistan launched its 1st armoured division in a bid to reach the Beas bridge that would have cut off Amritsar. Fortunately, they were trapped at Asal Uttar and defeated.

Comment by Riaz Haq on June 15, 2017 at 8:03am

#India ministry mocked for 'appropriating' picture of #Spain-#Morocco border as #India-#Pakistan border. #Modi #BJP

Twitter users are ridiculing India's home ministry for using a picture from Morocco's border with a Spanish territory to highlight its work.
Alt News website reported on Wednesday that the ministry used the picture in its annual report to show that it had installed floodlights in border areas.
But the website said the picture was taken in 2006 by Spanish photographer Javier Moyano of the Ceuta enclave.
The ministry has reportedly ordered an inquiry into the "embarrassing gaffe".
Edited Modi flood photo sparks mockery
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has faced similar online mockery in the past for using wrong or photo-shopped pictures in official press releases and reports.
India's state-run Press Information Bureau in 2015 tweeted an obviously edited image of Mr Modi surveying deadly Chennai floods.
In the latest gaffe, the home ministry included the picture in its report which was published on its website.
After Alt News reported the error, many Indians took to Twitter to mock the ministry.


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