Jab desh me thi Diwali, wo khel
rahe thay Holi
Jab hum baithe thay gharon me,
wo jhel rahe thay goli
Thay dhanya jawan wo apne,
thee dhanya wo unki jawani
Jo shaheed huye hain unaki,
zara yaad karo qurbaani
Children, the above lines by Kavi Pradeep have described the role our jawans play to keep us safe and celebrate Independence while they keep round the clock vigil on our borders. They bravely face all hardships to protect the country and the countrymen from the jaws of the enemy. For this they deserve a million salutes.
The 1965 Indo-Pak War was the second conflict between India and Pakistan, after the First Kashmir War 1947-49. On August 25, 1965 Pakistani soldiers had launched a covert operation called ‘Operation Gibraltar’ and entered Indian-administered Jammu & Kashmir. Till date, there is zero clarity on how many men were part of Pakistan’s ‘Operation Gibraltar’. Multiple reports indicate the number could’ve been anywhere between 5,000 to 30,000. Pakistan rationalised this covert operation by claiming it was meant to “liberate” the people of Kashmir , a fact that Pakistan continues to dispute to this day.The war ended with UN intervention and ceasefire was declared yet again. The war remains controversial because, unlike the other wars, the Pakistan Army never really signed a surrender document. However, recent documents released by the Indian government confirm that India had successfully captured the Haji Pir Pass (one of the main places under dispute) from Pakistan. The Indian Field Guns were the undisputed heroes on the front-lines and inflicted major damage to the enemy. Despite being one of the first major campaigns Indian Army soldiers fought in Kashmir, the men didn”t let climate or altitude get in their way. The war wasn”t fought like other wars on one front; it was fought on several. This meant that troop movement on the mountains was slow and strenuous. The Indian Army made deep inroads inside Pakistan and destroyed several weapons and vehicles integral to the Pakistan Army. Such was the might of the Indian Army, that it managed to push back the Pakistan Army into Lahore, and even hoisted the Indian flag in the Lahore Sector, before it walked back victorious. The 1965 Indo-Pak War was the largest tank battle only after World War II. 128 Indian tanks and 150 Pakistani tanks were destroyed. India claimed 4,073 combat sorties whereas Pakistan claimed 2,279. Three weeks into the war, and after a UN intervention, India and Pakistan agreed to declare a ceasefire. At the end of a bruising 22-day war, India held 1,920 square kilometres of Pakistani territory while Pakistan only held 550 square kilometres of Indian land.Under ‘Operation Bakshi’ the Indian Army captured the highest mountain Haji Pir Pass—the main route for infiltration into Kashmir. And yet India surrendered everything at the Tashkent Declaration in January 1966.
Company Quarter Master Havildar Abdul Hamid of 4 Grenadiers
When Pakistan attacked in the Rann of Kutch area in April 1965, 4 Grenadiers was ordered to move forward and to collect their 106 RCL guns from the nearest ordinance depot. Hamid was one of the non-commissioned instructors. Due to absence of anti-tank detachment commanders, he was told to take over an anti-tank detachment. A very good marksman and an expert anti-tank gunner, he made a big difference to the outcome of the war. On September 10th, when the Pakistani army penetrated India”s forward position in Khem Karan Sector, Company Quarter Master Havildar Abdul Hamid blew up a total of eight enemy tanks, even more than an armoured formation can hope for, but was mortally wounded by their high explosive shelling. Hamid’s brave action inspired his comrades to put up a gallant fight, and to beat back the heavy tank assault by the enemy. His complete disregard for personal safety and his sustained acts of bravery in the face of fierce enemy fire inspired his fellow soldiers and, the enemy”s advance was halted. For his remarkable achievement, bravery and courage, Hamid was awarded the Param Vir Chakra (PVC), India’s highest gallantry medal posthumously, for the indomitable valour he displayed while destroying Pakistani tanks. A stamp was issued in Hamid’s honour in 2000. The battalion was awarded the Battle Honour of Asal Uttar and the Theatre Honour (Punjab). For the first time in military history, a battalion with only RCL guns at its disposal fought off an armoured division.
In this war which ended on September 23rd,1965 more than 3,000 Indian soldiers sacrificed their lives for the people back home. Among the dead were two men, who set benchmarks for every soldier and inspired generations of patriots, and were awarded with highest Indian medal for gallantry—the ParamVir Chakra (PVC)—for their valour in the war. They were Company Quarter Master Havildar Abdul Hamid of 4 Grenadiers, and Lieutenant Colonel Ardeshir Burzarji Tarapore of Poona Horse Regiment .
Lieutenant Colonel Ardeshir Burzarji
On September 11th 1965, the Poona Horse Regiment, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Tarapore, was assigned the task of delivering the main armoured thrust for capturing Phillora in the Sialkot Sector in Pakistan. During the mission, his regiment suddenly came under surprise attack.Though his own tank was hit several times, he maintained his pivots at both these places and thereby helped the supporting infantry attacking Chawinda. Inspired by his leadership, the regiment fiercely attacked the enemy armor and destroyed approximately sixty Pakistani Army tanks, suffering only nine tank casualties. However, Lt. Colonel Tarapore’s tank was hit and was enveloped in flames and he died a hero’s death.
Children, Havildar Abdul Hamid and Lieutenant Colonel Ardeshir Burzarji Tarapore are no obscure characters in Indian military history. They are the most
celebrated and revered soldiers our country’s forces have forged. Kudos to the personnels of Army, Navy and Airforce who against all odds have always come forward to defend