Military & Aerospace

The pitfalls in evolution of Indian Army-II
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Vulnerable targets were very lightly guarded by the civil police with negligible defence potential and could be easily overcome. In the first week of August, the presence of infiltrators in depth areas began to be felt through attacks on bridges, administrative installations and ammunition dumps all along the ceasefire line, particularly in Kashmir Valley.

A ghost radio broadcasting from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir hailed this sabotage as a “mass uprising” and appealed to the Kashmiris to rise against the “Indian occupation.” This activity was intensified around Srinagar to coincide with the celebration of the 12th anniversary of Sheikh Abdullah’s arrest. Some 300 houses in a congested locality were destroyed by fire and the number of clashes with the Indian security forces increased along all the major lines of communications.

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The Indian Army was slow to react. In fact, it had very limited reaction capability to meet such an unorthodox contingency. As a result it fumbled, at least for a while. Lacking immediate troop reserves, it had either to create such resources from the holding troops or move reinforcements from the hinterland, especially when the Karachi agreement had precluded stationing additional troops in Jammu and Kashmir. The local commanders initially frittered away their resources in meeting the infiltrators wherever their activities were reported in fire brigade fashion. Better sense prevailed later in some sectors in the valley and proper operations were launched to plug the infiltrators’ routes of withdrawal even at the risk of crossing the ceasefire line.

The Pakistanis came out better in this round. They shrewdly chose the Rann of Kutch to test the mettle of Indias new rulers.

As a result of these operations, India had by August captured some heights in Kargil,6 thus securing the line of communication to Ladakh, two crucial heights in the Tangdhar area, and the Haji Pir Pass in the Uri-Poonch bulge. But things had not gone so well in the Rajauri sector, where one of the groups under Brig Raza had established Pakistani administration deep in the interior at Budil and Kandi. Some of its elements were operating right up to the Ramban bridge on the Jammu-Srinagar highway. Raza held this area for almost a month after the ceasefire. His force received regular airdrops, and was further maintained by land convoys of about 300 pack animals a day without interruption. So ineffective were the units of the Indian Army then operating in the area that Raza was left alone till he decided to make his way back on his own.

The failure of the Pakistani guerilla operations can be attributed to lack of popular support in the valley. Indiscriminate Pakistani burning of houses further alienated the local population. The mass uprising envisaged by the planners of the guerilla campaign did not materialize. Obviously, the political preparations for it did not keep step with the military operations. In the face of non-cooperation by the locals, as also by the blocking of their exfiltration routes, the guerilla force in the valley disintegrated. Some were captured, some surrendered, and others made their way home in ones and twos. Significant gains in the Rajauri sector could not be consolidated as the land operations launched by the regular army in their support could not effect a linkup.

Book_India_wars_sinceFrustrated by the failure of the covert guerilla operations, Ayub Khan decided to come out into the open. Exploiting the weakness and imbalance of the Indian defences in the Chhamb sector, he made a full-fledged attack with a couple of infantry brigades supported by an armoured regiment under the command of his favourite general Yahya Khan on 1 September 1965.7 This met with instant success as the Indian positions were thinly held with little depth and without the requisite artillery and tank backing. An Indian effort at reinforcing the sector piecemeal was not very successful and by 3 September Yahya Khan had taken Jaurian, while his leading elements were menacing the vital Akhnur bridge. To meet this threat the Indian Air Force was brought into play in the afternoon over the Chhamb sector, leading to clashes with Pakistani air units and some casualties to Yahya Khan’s armour.8 Yahya Khan did not prove enterprizing enough to capitalize his initial and rather easy success. He remained content with the capture of Jaurian, not making a serious attempt at securing the bridge.

Continued…: The pitfalls in evolution of Indian Army-III


  1. Asian Recorder, Vol XI, No. 37, “India to Strike Back–Mr L.B Shastri’s Warning,” p. 6656.
  2. Asian Recorder, Vol XI, No. 21, “Use of American Arms by Pakistan Photographic Evidence,” p. 6465.
  3. Asian Recorder, Vol XI, No. 21, “US Stand,” p. 6465.
  4. Asian Recorder, Vol XI, No. 37, “Kashmir War–Massive Infiltration,” p. 6651.
  5. Asian Recorder, Vol XI, No. 37, “Kashmir War–Massive Infiltration,” p. 6651.
  6. Asian Reorder, Vol Xl, No 37, “Three Pakistani Posts in Kargil: Recaptured,” p. 6653.
  7. Asian Recorder, Vol XI, No 40, “Massive Pakistani Attack on Chhamb,” p. 6687.
  8. Ibid., p. 6687.
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