The truth about the 1965 War needs to be told and there can be no better way of telling it then relating it through the eyes of those who fought the War
The book begins with the account of the prevalent atmosphere both in India and Pakistan during the 1960s, which was the time when the Cold War at its peak and rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union was at an all time high. It goes on in detail how Pakistan astutely sided with the West, joining the South East Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) in 1954. The purpose of this organisation as the book notes was to prevent communism from gaining ground in the region.
From the insights offered by the book, the reader can infer how badly India was placed, both economically and militarily. It was economically hampered by a slow growth rate, a fallout of Nehruvian socialism, not to forget the debacle suffered at the hands of the Chinese in 1962 which had left deep scars in the national psyche. As a result, India was arguably at its lowest ebb. Strategically this was seen by Pakistan as a good opportunity to wrest Jammu and Kashmir from India by force through Operation Grand Slam and Operation Gibraltar. It is in this context that the writers of the book give significant insights as to how Pakistan formed the Kashmir Publicity Committee to keep the issue of Jammu and Kashmir alive; strikingly this committee operated in secret and also did not record its deliberations on paper. It is from this committee that the proposal to engineer a revolt in Jammu and Kashmir emanated, which meant sending armed infiltrators to foment violence.
Social Problems in India; NG Pendse; Sukanta Sarkar; Kalpaz Publications; Rs 900; Pp 324
This book deals with such issues which effects our society daily. Child Labour , Widow , Farmer Suicide, AIDS, Urbanisation, Arm Trafficking, Poverty, Violence against Women, Beggary, Terrorism, Migration, Unemployment, Corruption, Drug abuse and Superstition are some issues which are obstructing the growth of our society and must be removed at the earliest
Purdah in Piccadilly; Edited by Zarina Bhatty; SAGE Publications India Pvt Ltd; Pp 196
The book narrates the experiences of a woman who strove to break out of the stereotypical roles imposed by the society of her times. It chronicles her life over 80 years, portraying the political and social conditions of undivided and post- Independence India
The core objective which the book sets out to achieve is that the 1965 Indo – Pak war never got the attention it deserved. So much so, the writers who themselves were warriors at the scene then exclaim that this war has never struck the chord; it remains distant and unreal for most. It is said devil is in the details, the narration of each and every warrior in the book shows how firmly and accurately the events of the war are imprinted in their minds, as though they happened yesterday.
The Status of Muslim Women in Medieval India;
This book examines the economic, cultural, political and social positions of Muslim women in Medieval India. It explores the changes that took place with the advent of Arabs, Turks, Mongols, Tartars, Afghans and Persians on the Islamic society
India’s Look East Policy and the Northeast; Thongkholal Haokip; SAGE Publications India Pvt Ltd; Rs 795; Pp190
The book, while providing a historical background of political integration and its fallout in Northeast India since Independence, examines the continuity and change of India’s policy towards its Northeastern region and the economic potentials of this policy.
Lt Col Keshav S Puntambekar who has penned the chapter, ‘The Opening Round – the Story of the Battle in Kutch’, says how and why the 1965 war had its roots in events that took place in the small border town of Kutch in Western Gujarat where the battle was fought to defend the Sardar Post. The chapter details how despite assurances Pakistan patrolled areas inside Indian Territory, including the Kanjarkot Fort and the area to its east. Pakistan even went to the extent of deploying tanks in the area opposite the border with India on the Rann of Kutch, in the spring of 1965.
The book seamlessly delves into Pakistan’s nefarious plan to attack Jammu and Kashmir and seize it from India under Operation Gibraltar.
The book is a treasure trove of inspiring and unforgettable instances like the Khemkaran- Bhikiwind and Khem Karan – Valtoha encounter where soldiers like Col V N Bhatia spent a whole day in gun position to give fire support to the troops. The grit and the accuracy of the infantry is mentioned so vividly by Col V N Bhatia that these are the some instances from the war that must remain etched in all our memories forever.
Another inspiring anecdote which is certain to grab reader’s attention is the account of the battle of Maijlar, which as the books states, “is a tribute to the spirit of young officers who have carried the burden, so valiantly, of all wars that India has fought against her adversaries.” Lt. Gen. G K Duggal’s story is a case in point, who recalls that despite his wounds, he chooses to stay with his company till the entire operation was over. Soon after he was shifted to the Ahmadabad Military Hospital via Jodhpur and remained there for over three weeks before rejoining his unit, without availing sick leave, much against the advice of the doctors.
As the reader reaches the end of the book, one of the chapters that is bound to touch the heart is ‘Compassion at Ground Zero’ written by Maj Gen P K Batra, AVSM. He begins his narration on the note that “Wars are not just about death, bullets, blood and guts; sometimes, we see acts of caring and compassion too.” He narrates an incident that occurred in a village in the Sialkot Sector in 1965 where he was serving with his unit 45 Cavalry. In the narration, the reader can notice the care and concern which Maj Gen P K Batra displays on noticing a old and frail lady with cracked spectacles in a deserted village who had no place to go and had lost her husband, Usman. So much so, Maj Gen P K Batra even made adequate arrangements for the Army Medical officer to attend to her and subsequently always stopped by to spend time and share a meal with her whenever crossing the village. Maj Gen P K Batra also goes to fulfill the old lady’s last wish, who he affectionately calls as ‘Ammi’ in burying her with full honour next to her husband Usman following the instructions of a Maulvi in one of the infantry battalions.
The very fact that those who fought in the way have pulled out their war accounts despite their age, despite being seriously ill and under medical care and after almost 50 years must motivate people to pick up a copy of the book. One of the main objective of the book is that the truth about the 1965 war needs to be told and there can be no better way of telling it than relating it through the eyes of those who fought the war. through the eyes of those who fought the war. Though there are no victors or vanquished in this war, but every Indian must be proud that our armed forces foiled Pakistan’s attempt to the take the state of Jammu and Kashmir by force. By the time ceasefire took effect on September 23, 1965, India had effectively countered Pakistani aggression which truly meant that the nation’s honour had been redeemed.
(The writer is a Research Associate at the India Foundation)