SHASTRIJI LED BHARAT TO VICTORY IN 1965 WAR
By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM
Celebrating Victory over the Rann of Kutch skirmish in early 1965, General Ayub Khan had failed to assess his adversary, Shastriji. Lal Bahadur Shastri ji was a votary of Ahimsa but once it came to killing the enemy to defend the motherland, he was second to none. Both Ayub and later Yahya made a mistake in assessing the fighting spirit of the Hindu soldier and what they mistakenly called Hindu India. With the result the puffed up Generals across the border lost all the wars they fought against Hindu India. In the 1965 war, the SHASTRI factor played an important role in raising the morale of the Indian Army, nay, the entire nation sky high.
The running away from battle of both officers and soldiers in the 1962 war against China was a proof of lack of training and poor quality of weapon system. Although some mistakes had been rectified between 1962 and 1965 but that was not perceived to be enough to make the Indian Army fighting fit. Surfeit of American Arms handed over to Pakistan on a silver platter had further emboldened the hot-headed Pakistan Army Generals and sleeping or waking, they had been preparing for a war with India for quite some time to avenge their failure to grab Jammu and Kashmir in 1947-48 It is a well known fact of recorded history that M.A. Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan had travelled from the capital city of Karachi to Abbotabad in the Punjab to await the golden moment of fall of Srinagar. Jinnah was mentally wearing the crown of Kashmir replacing the Hindu Maharajah, His Highness Sir Hari Singh. Alas, he was sadly disappointed when the arrival of the Indian Army in Srinagar in the nick of time nixed his dream plan. The Pakistanis nursed their wound of humiliation since then and looked for an opportunity to win laurels in Jammu and Kashmir.
Pakistan had joined CENTO and SEATO in furtherance of their military plan to annex the apple rich orchards. The United States of America, a founder-promoter of Seato and Cento poured military armaments, munitions of war and the allied hardware into Pakistan much more than what they needed. The US strategists had organised a seminar to assess the military situation in South Asia where the consensus was that should there be a military engagement in South Asia, Pakistan was sure to defeat India. Pakistan Army officers had been brainwashing their junior commissioned officers and Jawans with the concept that man to man a Pakistani soldier was miles ahead of an Indian soldier. It was indeed a morale booster for the Pakistan Army. But their officers had overplayed their hand in this game of cards.
THE SHASTRI FACTOR
A diminutive figure physically but super giant size mentally and saint like spiritually, Lal Bahadur Shastri had an humble beginning in life. However, the Sanskars given to him in a Vedic upbringing put a reservoir of spiritual strength in his mindset. He drew on his reserve of honesty, tenacity, perseverance and problem-solving whenever he was placed in adverse circumstances. Never Say Die was his motto and he lived by it. Will To Win was a trait of his character and mental personality. No wonder he made it to the high office of Prime Minister of India and made an impact on the history of the Indian subcontinent.
General Ayub Khan, an over-confident military general, a Pathan from the Frontier province whose Sandhurst training had given him an outward bound personality, had failed to assess his adversary, Shastriji. Shastriji was a votary of Ahimsa but once it came to killing the enemy to defend the motherland, he was second to none.
Both Ayub Khan and later Yahya Khan made a mistake in assessing the fighting spirit of the Hindu soldier and what they mistakenly called the Hindu India. India has a population where citizens professing different faiths form a homogenous group of Indian citizens. With the result the puffed up Generals across the border lost all the wars they fought against Hindu India.
The Indian nation had great confidence in its national leader, Lal Bahadur Shastri. When USA made a veiled threat of stopping grain supply under PL-480, Shastriji advised the nation to miss a meal once a week and more often, if need be. Like a good leader, he followed his own advice. It inspired all Indians to acquire moral courage, a quality that had enriched personality of the diminutive man.
No wonder Shastriji ordered the Indian Army to cross the international borders with Pakistan and launch a two-pronged attack on the enemy country. He achieved a glorious success and won the war against the big mouthed Pakistan Army generals who had to eat an humble pie. Operating old armoured tanks, the Indian Army officers and soldiers had blasted the America-made Patton tanks. The jeep mounted recoilless 105mm guns made the Pakistan army armour bite the dust. Lt Col Tarapore and CQMH Abdul Hamid were decorated with Param Vir Chakra, the highest award for extra-ordinary gallantary posthumously. They were inspired gallant men in arms who laid down their lives defending their motherland.
When departing for Tashkent to attend the peace negotiations with Pakistan after the war was over, a journalist asked Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, “Sir, you are short statured but President Ayub is so tall, how would you face him?” Shastriji’s prompt reply in Hindi was: “Wo sar jhuka kar baat kreinge aur main sar utha kar baat karunga”. The world knew that Shastri ji was the Prime Minister of a victorious nation and Field Marshal Ayub Khan was President and dictator of a defeated country.The questioner was left speechless.
Assessing ’65 War Many a time the question crops up: Who won, who lost? In any case, many years later, both Bharat and Pakistan are celebrating their Victory Day on 6th September 2015. It was 50 years ago that India had launched its forces across borders towards Lahore and Sialkot. They fought for 22 days when the Security Council of the United Nations brokered peace and ordered a Ceasefire on 23 September 65 at 03:30 hrs. Going by territorial gains, India had won 720 sq miles of Pakistan. The enemy had captured about 400 sq miles of the Indian Territory. Casualty on Indian side was 30,000 whereas on their side it was 30,800. Who knocked out how many tanks is a much debated point. However, all agree that after WWII, Chawinda and Asal Uttar were the two biggest tank battles of the 1965 India-Pakistan War. The graveyard of Pakistan’s Patton tanks in the Khemkaran area is a glaring proof of incapacity of American tanks to win a war. One may emphasise again that it is the man behind the gun and not the gun that becomes a battle winning factor. Gallantry awards were given to the bravehearts by both the countries. India honoured one officer and one Jawan with Param Vir Chakra, the highest gallantry award for displaying extraordinary bravery above the call of duty in the face of the enemy. Pakistan gave one award of this nature. Let us assess what was the aim of Pakistan when they launched ‘Operation Gibraltar’ and ‘Operation Grand Slam’. Pakistan wanted to snatch Kashmir from India and make it a part of Pakistan. Did they succeed in their aim? The answer is a big NO. What was India’s aim in going to war against Pakistan? Well, to defend every inch of India and not let Pakistan wrest any part of India. Did India succeed in achieving its aim? The answer is a big YES.