This medal is awarded in recognition of non-operational services under conditions of special hardship and severe climate. The bar or clasp shows the words ” NEFA ” in Hindi. To qualify for this award, an aggregate of one year service in the North-East Frontier Agency(NEFA) is required. The medal shows an image of Nanda Devi Himalayan mountain peak with a bamboo stand in the foreground. I am proud of my military service in this area for several reasons. In 1962, after Chinese brutal aggression, India lost control over its territory in the LADAKH region and that area still remains under the Chinese occupation. Fortunately, in the north-east Himalayan sector, India retains its control over the territory which we had lost in the 1962 War. In 1972, I was very glad to serve in this area for one complete year and I could personally witness the fact that India is prepared to fight the Chinese one more time and we are willing to do our best to keep ‘NEFA'( now known as ARUNACHAL PRADESH- The Land where Sun rises) under our control whatever may be the Chinese threats and protests. China did not give up its claim over this territory and had refused to issue a visa to an Officer of the Indian Administrative Service who had earlier served in this region. The tensions still exist and I am glad for we are better prepared now and if war is inevitable, we would welcome that challenge. When I entered this area, the first thing that I was told by my Adjutant was , ” Rudra, if you need a copy of your most recent photo, ask the Chinese Intelligence, and they could provide you one “. The Chinese Intelligence was keeping tabs on each Officer who is entering this area and keeping a close watch on our movements. We are neither threatened and nor intimidated by this kind of Chinese surveillance and we wanted to assure the Chinese that we will not be deterred by their Intelligence capabilities. Actually, I moved around this region without carrying my personal weapon. In 1972, this area was totally free of any unrest and insurgent activities. Indian Army had encountered problems in Naga Land, Mizoram and Tripura but not in NEFA. I would like to narrate a few events and earlier I had mentioned about the Traditional Hospitality in my entry titled ‘ Defining Indian Identity- The Tradition of Hospitality ‘.
INDIAN ARMY’S COMMITMENT TO ITS MEN :
In Indian Army, we take pride in looking after our men and very often we stretch ourselves to do our best to safeguard the welfare of our men even under the most difficult circumstances. And we maintain this attitude while extending help to others who may not be members of our Service. I remember my stay at a Company location when a Sub-Inspector of Police came to me asking for some medical attention. He belonged to the Central Reserve Protection Force and was sent on posting to this difficult area without any prior health screening. I am sure that the same thing could be happening even today. We deploy police personnel to work in remote areas and we do not care and value their services. This man was not medically fit to serve in this area and no attempt was made to ascertain his physical fitness to perform the task for which he was sent . Fortunately, he had survived the long trek and a very difficult and physically challenging climb and reached the Government Clinic where I was voluntarily providing services to all civilian inhabitants in that area. I examined him and found his blood pressure to be very high and he was at a great risk of suffering from a stroke which could be fatal or cause paralysis. He had undiagnosed high blood pressure for a long time and I could also find evidence that his kidneys were already damaged. He needed immediate hospital treatment and required emergency evacuation. His Police Department never cared to inquire about his well being before giving him the posting order. Where as in the Armed Forces, we routinely interview the men and get them medically examined before they are sent to difficult areas. I had prepared a note about his medical condition and the signal team had immediately dispatched this message and within minutes, my request was approved and the Air Force was informed to send a helicopter. After a short while, I received a call from the helicopter pilot who spoke to me on his radio and informed me that he was sitting in his helicopter and was ready to take off as soon as the weather permits. That was a particularly, rainy and cloudy day with very poor visibility and the mission was really challenging. The pilot had assured me that he would fly in spite of all odds and would pick up my patient. The control tower was closely monitoring the clouds and they were waiting for a window of opportunity to make this trip while the cloud system moves through the mountain valley. He had asked me to keep the patient ready at the helipad and that he would not be able to spend even an extra minute on the ground. Within minutes, the whole scenario at my camp had changed. The day had started on a very dull note. It was raining and there was dense fog. Suddenly, every body got busy. As per standing orders, armed men were sent to secure our landing strip, weather signs were posted, helipad was marked with fresh paint, smoke signals and other equipment were positioned on the ground. We erected a small shelter for the patient to rest while awaiting for evacuation. A Sub-Inspector of Police was suddenly transformed into a ‘ Very Important Person ‘. He was worried about his senior officers who had transferred him to this station. He was worried that he might offend them by leaving his duty station without their prior permission. I had reassured him and told him that Indian Army would accept total responsibility for sending him to hospital and that we value him and care for his well being and that we would not expect any one to perform duty when their personal health is at risk. The pilot made the bold trip as promised and had safely transported him to a Service Hospital. The Sub-Inspector of Police told me that he would never forget the day on which he could directly experience the sense of urgency with which we acted and treated him as if he is the most precious thing on earth.
I love this award and the opportunity it gave to me to demonstrate my commitment to serve the men who serve our country.
‘Bharat Darshan’ is the title of one of my presentations at Huron High School, Ann Arbor. The School offers a course titled ‘ Asian Civilization ‘. The students who take this class learn about India. I was invited to this class as a guest speaker and I took the opportunity as a learning tool and I started learning to express my ideas and thoughts about India. I still continue to learn and I use ‘ BHAVANA JAGAT ‘ to continue my learning experience. I am happy to express my sense of gratitude to the Class Teacher, Ms. Nadine Ghawi who had initiated my desire for learning by inviting me to speak to her class. The following is the notes that I had prepared for one such speaking event at Huron High School.
BHARAT DARSHAN :
I shall begin with a traditional greeting. As a kid, I was trained to greet and acknowledge others. The greeting is called ‘ NAMASKAR ‘ or ‘ NAMASTE ‘.
Today’s presentation is named ‘ BHARAT DARSHAN ‘. The Land of India in our Culture and tradition is referred to as the Land of Bharat. ‘Darshan’ means viewing a place or an event. During this brief tour, I would present to you a few glimpses of India’s history and Culture. I would launch you on a journey to ‘ Discover India ‘ and I do hope that your experience would be rewarding as well as entertaining.
Culture is defined as learned behavior. My traditions teach me that I should approach life with a sense of abundant caution. I am cautioned to avoid absolute optimism. It is like fastening your seat belt before you begin to drive. In any human endeavor, I am told to expect a positive outcome only after taking care of any possible negative outcomes. If you are driving your car, the State Law dictates that you would reach your destination safely only after taking precautions such as the wearing of seat belt to avoid serious injury. My success is guaranteed only if I anticipate and overcome all the obstacles that I might face along the road. However, my success is never entirely mine. I am trained to believe that my success is a blessing and that I should accept success with a sense of humility.
To remove obstacles that may hinder me on my path, my Culture offers an icon who is designated as the remover of obstacles. This icon is known as GANESHA. He is also the mentor of learning. The learning process begins after seeking His blessings. Today, I would like to succeed in my speaking event. I would ask Him to help me in presenting this project which I call ‘ Bharat Darshan ‘. My prayerful thoughts are expressed by this Sanskrit verse :
‘Shuklaam bara dharam, Vishnum, sasi varnam chaturbhujam
Prasanna Vadanam dhyaaye, tsarva vighno pa shantayey’.
The key phrase in this verse is ‘Prasanna Vadanam’. All obstacles are removed and subdued if I meditate upon His face which is a picture of relaxation and total composure. This prayer specifically guides me to overcome problems by focusing on positive energy that can be gained by reflecting upon a face that promotes tranquility.
Brief overview of ‘ BHARAT DARSHAN ‘ :
During this presentation, I would address the following questions.
1. Who is an Indian ?
2. What was the single most important event in India’s history ?
3. What is the essence of Indian Culture ?
4. What is the role of icons, symbols, idols and images in Indian Culture ?
I . WHO IS AN INDIAN ?
Culture gives people a sense of personal identity. Defining that identity helps in understanding the Culture.
The name Indian is related to the great river SINDHU which is also known as Indus. After the political partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947, much of the river Sindhu traverses across the land of Pakistan. However, at no time in our existence we regarded Sindhu river as our symbol of identity. We view ourselves as people of a Land where the river GANGA or the Ganges flows. Indians cherish the value of keeping their hearts and minds pure and clean. We very fondly believe that Mother GANGA or the Ganges can cleanse us and help us to attain that purity. It is like the practice of ‘ Water Baptism ‘. Secondly, we belong to a Land where people cherish the value of speaking the truth. Indians claim that God is Truth and believe that Truth is God. This belief is reflected in the motto of our nation. The motto is ‘ SATYA MEVA JAYATE ‘ meaning that Truth alone triumphs.
II . WHAT WAS THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT EVENT IN INDIA’S HISTORY ?
The single most important event in the entire history of India, the defining moment of our history was the ” migration ” of Aryans to India around 1500 B.C. Their ” migration ” was indeed a blessed event. Their language Sanskrit became the language of our Culture. Sanskrit enriched all other Indian languages and encouraged the growth of literature in almost every region of India. The Aryan Culture flowed into India and joined the mainstream Indian Culture. This Cultural influx can be compared to the confluence of the rivers Ganga and Yamuna at PRAYAG which we consider as the holiest of all holy places in India. Outwardly, the combined stream of life appears to be the same, but inwardly it illuminated our minds and vitalized our hearts.
III . WHAT IS THE ESSENCE OF INDIAN CULTURE ?
I must again mention that Culture is defined as learned behavior. The most important behavior that is expected of me is that of showing respect and obedience. It is not merely about showing respect to the Gods we worship. Even the Gods that we worship also implicitly observe the rule about showing respect and obedience. This social expectation rules every relationship and activity. It is the basic expectation let it be parent-child relationship, husband-wife relationship, teacher-student relationship, employer-employee relationship, the relationship between the Ruler and the ruled, relationship between siblings and very often even between friends. Respectful conduct is expected while receiving guests, while dealing with any elder even though the person may not be related to you. In addition, several plants, trees, birds, animals, rivers and mountains enjoy a special status and are treated with great respect. This social behavior is encouraged at all times and we are trained as kids to display this behavior. Instead of God, I am FREE to choose a human, a plant, a tree, an animal, some element of nature or even a stone and worship that object with the same and similar amount of respect that I may give to God. The Gods of our Culture would not get angry or jealous if I get totally preoccupied with showing respect to someone else other than the Gods. Most of us get used to showing respect to a variety of objects.
IV . WHAT IS THE ROLE OF ICONS, SYMBOLS, IDOLS AND IMAGES IN INDIAN CULTURE ?
I am trained to believe that life is a complex and challenging experience. The life’s journey is compared to swimming across a vast and unknown deep ocean. The journey as perceived is neither simple nor easy. We are provided with icons and symbols as our navigational tools. We derive our comfort and strength by our dependence upon idols and images. We imbibe values by simply imitating the chosen role models. Personal responsibility and self-motivation are very important but for companionship and guidance we look towards one or the other idol. To draw a comparison, it is like using icons on your computer screen to travel
upon the so-called information super highway. Every icon that we use has become a part and parcel of our Cultural legacy. I shall explain a few of them :
LORD SHIVA :
Lord Shiva is like Socrates. Socrates of 5 Th century B.C. is claimed to be the father of western thought. He implored people to ” know thy self “. Socrates had stated that the ‘ unexamined life is not worth living ‘. Shiva guides me to reflect upon life. Shiva encourages introspection, reflecting upon your own mind and thoughts. Shiva is recognized as the God of learning. To commence learning, we respectfully tell Shiva that we are ready and prepared to receive our learning instructions. In Sanskrit, the phrase that is used is ‘ SIDDHAM ‘ meaning ready. Shiva ensures that we are willing and obedient before we start the first day of our schooling career. Shiva defines that the purpose of learning is to acquire the ability to think for oneself.
LORD GANESHA :
Ganesha is the mentor of learning. He symbolizes the values of attentive listening, writing down words as instructed and patience. In the learning process, He works like a catalyst. He facilitates achievement by removing obstacles. He helps me to gain success with humility.
GODDESS SARASVATI :
Sarasvati, the Goddess of Wisdom represents the value of acquiring pure knowledge. She is very much like the person described as ‘ Wisdom ‘ in the Book of Proverbs, Chapter 1, 3 and 4 of the King James version of Holy Bible. To optimize our learning potential, to draw upon the immense powers of a creative mind, She recommends an attitude of humility, obedience and discipline. All the Gods of our Culture including Her spouse BRAHMA worship Her to avoid mental lethargy. She defines that the goal of learning is to transform our minds to make us creative individuals.
Discovering India demands knowledge of plants, trees, birds, animals, rivers and mountains that are a part of our landscape. The Culture is reflected in the national symbols that we chose. A single word that can represent the full spectrum of our Cultural legacy is ‘ NAMASKAR ‘.
Please also view my post titled ‘Defining Indian Identity – The Land of Karma’
HOMER – ONE OF THE GREATEST OF THE WORLD’ S LITERARY ARTISTS.
The two great epic poems of ancient Greece, the Iliad and the Odyssey are attributed to Homer. Homer is an oral poet and Homeric tradition is an oral one- that this is a kind of poetry made and passed down by word of mouth and without the intervention of writing. Through out world, people have orally transmitted many texts, let it be history, literature or scriptures, for long periods of time, before the texts were committed to writing. The people of India share this great tradition and we practice this tradition during our festivals and while performing specific rituals. For example, ‘GAYATRI MAHA MANTRAM’ is orally transmitted during the ritual called ‘ UPANAYANAM ‘. During festival season, we gather and listen to ‘ PURANAS ‘, which are ancient stories. A myth is essentially told. India is the land where the myths are transmitted form one generation to the next in the form of Epic Poetry.
MY STORY ABOUT ‘ HOMER’ WHO LIVED IN RAJAHMUNDRY
I had narrated my stories about my early childhood life in Rajahmundry. Kindly refer back to my blog entries about ‘The Tradition of Ahimsa’, ‘The Tradition of Idol Worship’ and ‘The Tradition of River Worship’. I learned about the Culture of my Land from very ordinary folks and they are the faces of the Indian Identity that I would love to speak about. As a little kid, I sometimes performed chores while we lived in my grand parents’ home in Innispeta. I still have a vivid recollection of this event which helps me to speak about our oral tradition. I was walking along the ‘MAIN ROAD’ of Rajahmundry and was passing in front of ” PEDDA MASJID “( The Big Mosque ). An elderly person stopped me and spoke to me. I was a little diminutive kid walking bare foot on the street. The man was very modestly dressed and appeared to be one of the working poor of the town who make their living by performing simple menial tasks at the market place. Some of you, who had lived in Rajahmundry know that we have a vegetable market in that area and it is the heart of the town. I could see the sense of sadness on his face. He was simply trying to unburden himself and share the emotional pain with which he might have lived for many years. I remember this incident as the expression of sorrow and dismay is entirely true. He did not ask for any favor or help. He was not canvassing for any support for any political ideology. He was not speaking about his poverty or the hardships of his daily life. He had plainly shared the truth about the “BIG MOSQUE”. The mosque was not real. It was a temple. The temple was demolished and the mosque was erected in its place. He did not learn about it by visiting a library or reading the notes written by some historian or archaeologist. He had lived his life in the town and he gained this information from people who had lived before him. He had felt their pain and thought that it was important to share this collective memory with the next generation. I really do not know as to how long we should live with this injustice. But for now, my time has come. I need to narrate this story to the next generation. We shall continue to do so as long as this pain lives. This simple man, whose name is not known to me, who had written no epic poetry, is my ‘ HOMER’.Like the Great Poet, this man orally transmitted the ‘ORIGINAL’ pain and the emotional experience of people who had lived in Rajahmundry centuries before my arrival and it survived in my memory and it would hopefully survive in the memories of our future generations. A bit of historical truth is as great as a long poem. A temple had been destroyed and the pain experienced by the community would live as long as our oral tradition would live.
Prime Minister Indira Gandhi delivered the first blow to initiate the Liberation of Bangladesh during 1971. Her military action in Chittagong Hill Tracts is known as Operation Eagle. I would like to recognize the fallen heroes on both sides. Kindly visit my blog post titled ‘Liberation War of Bangladesh – Fallen Heroes on Both Sides’.
SPECIAL FRONTIER FORCE – ESTABLISHMENT NUMBER. 22 – OPERATION EAGLE – LIBERATION WAR OF BANGLADESH 1971:
Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India, initiated Liberation of Bangladesh during 1971 with military action in Chittagong Hill Tracts. The battle plan of this military action is known as Operation Eagle.
Pakistan’s Lt. Gen A. A. K. Niazi signs the instrument of surrender on December 16, 1971, surrendering his forces to Lt. Gen Jagjit Singh Aurora Commander of ‘ Mitro Bahini ‘.
A LESSON FROM INDIAN HISTORY :
The very first lesson that I have learned from Indian history is about the invasion of India by Alexander the Great in 326 B.C. King Porus( Raja Puru) chose to fight Alexander the Great in order to defend his kingdom Pauravaa and his people. In the epic battle, the King had lost his sons who all chose death in the battle rather than surrender. After fierce fighting and very heavy casualties on both sides, the King who had suffered many arrow wounds in the battle was defeated and was captured. In a famous meeting, Alexander had reportedly asked the King ” how should I treat you ? “. Porus replied, ” the way one King treats another “. Alexander was very impressed by the brave and powerful response of King Porus and ordered his men to immediately release the prisoner and offered him a seat and treated him with grace and dignity. This is our Indian tradition. It is honorable to choose death in the battle fighting your enemy. But it is equally important to treat your captured enemy with grace and dignity. The picture of Pakistan’s surrender to India on 16 December, 1971 truly reflects the adherence to our battle field’s traditions.
FALLEN HEROES ON BOTH SIDES :
It would be a mistake to think that the Liberation War of Bangladesh was a ‘cake walk’ for India. I could narrate my personal experience about this War. I attended all the meetings at my Unit and the battle plans were very carefully discussed. The task was explained in strict professional terms. Not even once, the enemy was shown any disrespect. Even in private conversations, none of us spoke about the enemy in a derogatory manner. We wanted to accomplish our task and perform our duty using the skills and training we had received. We never underestimated enemy’s strength and professional competence. We clearly know the challenge is tough and we had no sense of bitterness while we accomplished our task. Our Unit was not involved in the major push towards the capital city. The enemy had deployed a lot of their troops along the border and we made contact with some of the posts they were defending. In the first encounter, Pakistan’s fighters had put up a brave resistance and I remember two of their Junior Commissioned Officers who had sacrificed their lives defending their post. These two Pakistani officers of Risaldar rank were firing their made in China machine guns, which make a characteristic ‘coughing’ sound. I was taken aback to know that apart from the United States, China’s massive involvement in the supply of weapons and ammunition to Pakistan. I was with a reserve company and was nervously watching the progress of our attack.The ‘coughing’ did not stop for a long time. Eventually, these ‘coughing’ machine guns were silenced when our men climbed over the roof of the fortified bunker and had tossed grenades inside.They could have given up and surrendered but they had willingly chose not to do so. We buried our brave men who gave their lives in this successful attack and so also we buried the enemy who chose to fight till the end. We had recognized that these two brave Pathans were just performing their duty in the same spirit with which we wanted to perform our job.These two were substantially responsible and in the true tradition of Armed Forces be given the credit for saving the lives of their comrades who had all escaped under the cover of darkness and we could not capture any one. In the second encounter, the fight was much more fierce, we achieved our goal and we paid a price. I had carefully documented the names of the battle killed and had them buried in the foreign soil and myself and my team of medical assistants had a busy time taking care of the battle wounded. We captured some enemy soldiers and I remember meeting a Baloch soldier who came to me for medical attention. He had an ankle injury and the injury was not life-threatening but I did not want that he should be forced to march with an ankle injury. I sent him to the Field Hospital in the same helicopter taking the battle wounded on our side.The Baloch soldiers were totally shocked and surprised to find a doctor working along with the men right next to the battle ground. I had asked him as to when he met a doctor on his side. They had no doctor on their side and they also lacked support from their Officers. None above the rank of Junior Commissioned Officer was present on their side to give them the encouragement that they would need in the stressful moments of the battle. On the Indian side, the Companies were commanded by experienced Officers and they had displayed great leadership qualities and four of our Officers had received the Military Honours/Gallantry Awards. In spite of short comings, the Pakistani men stood up for the challenge and had shown their willingness to fight with us. But, the second encounter was very decisive. Their Commanders recognized the futility of their resistance and made a good choice to withdraw and had very correctly decided to surrender to the Indian side collectively at one central location. India had kept its promise to treat them well and all of them were returned to Pakistan unharmed.
I take pride in the fact that I had belonged to a professional Army which fought this battle without a trace of hatred and did not act with a sense of vengeance. We used our force with a sense of restraint, had given the enemy fair treatment, conducted ourselves with a due sense of decorum and dignity, followed the well-established conventions of war and I believe that we supported a just cause. Banga Bandhu Sheik Mujibur Rehman had declared Independence and had announced the creation of Bangladesh on March 25, 1971, several months before this armed conflict could take place. Pakistan’s Leader had a good opportunity to totally avoid this war. But, the men of Armed Forces did what they are expected to do. We followed the orders and acted in obedience to our Commanders and so it is but natural to have fallen heroes on both the sides of this fight.
THE PHANTOMS OF CHITTAGONG : THE FIFTH ARMY IN BANGLADESH :
Major General (Retd) Sujan Singh Uban, AVSM, the former Inspector General of Special Frontier Force has authored this book and had narrated the military exploits of his Force while operating in the difficult terrain of Chittagong Hill Tracts during Indo-Pak War of 1971. Did he mention about the ‘Fallen Heroes’ of Pakistani Army? Would it not be in the true military tradition to give recognition to your enemy with whom you are engaged in Combat? I am making a special mention about these two Junior Commissioned Officers who being Pathans may have belonged to Pakistan’s Frontier Force Regiment.Both of them had carried in their pockets personal letters that they had received from their wives. The wives did not ask them for any gifts or favors. They had only discussed the problem of rearing their children in the remote villages of Pakistan’s Frontier Region.The wives had specially mentioned about lack of fresh milk to feed the kids in the remote villages that they had lived. Both of them were aware of the families that they support. They had a very good chance to escape from their post that they were defending. They had allowed all other men at their post to save their lives. They knew that they had lost their post and the just two of them could not really stop us. At that point, they could have just saved their lives if not for their own sake, but for the sake of their wives and children whom they had loved. They had a sense of pride in their military service which they had valued more than their family relationships. They made a deliberate choice to remain inside their fortified bunker and displayed no inclination to surrender when the Battle was lost. We had no choice other than silencing their machine guns. This War would not be memorable if there was no display of Bravery by the Enemy.
Please view my related blog post titled ‘Indira Gandhi – A Flame that got Extinguished‘
The primary purpose of this military action in Chittagong Hill Tracts was that of providing combat training and to help the men of my Organization to gain useful combat experience to accomplish their military mission in the occupied Land of Tibet.
ABOUT GUNS, VICTORY AND GALLANTRY AWARDS- 1971 BANGLADESH LIBERATION WAR
About Guns, Victory and Gallantry Awards – Bangladesh Ops of 1971. The US President Richard Nixon and the Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Washington DC, 4 November 1971.
OPERATION EAGLE 1971 – ABOUT GUNS, VICTORY, AND GALLANTRY AWARDS. THE MILITARY ACTION IN THE CHITTAGONG HILL TRACTS COMMENCED ON NOVEMBER 03, 1971, ONE MONTH PRIOR TO INDIA’S OFFICIAL WAR ON PAKISTAN WHICH WAS DECLARED ON DECEMBER 03, 1971.
SPECIAL FRONTIER FORCE – ESTABLISHMENT NUMBER. 22 – OPERATION EAGLE – LIBERATION WAR OF BANGLADESH 1971 – GALLANTRY AWARD:
Indian Air Force Officer Parvez Jamasji served in Aviation Research Centre (ARC) on deputation as a helicopter pilot in the rank of Flight Lieutenant during 1971-72. He was awarded the Gallantry Award of Vir Chakra for giving our Unit air support during the conduct of our combat mission in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. He airlifted my battlefield casualties.
Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India initiated Liberation of Bangladesh during 1971 with military action in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. This battle plan is known as Operation Eagle.
About Guns, Victory and Gallantry Awards. Bangladesh Ops of 1971. POORVI Star for Operations in the Eastern Sector.
On the 3 rd. of December 1971, The Pakistani Air Force (PAF) struck several Indian airfields. By midnight, India was officially at war with Pakistan. Two weeks later, the war was over. The Indian Army had overrun erstwhile East Pakistan (Bangladesh) and had taken 93,000 Prisoners of War. It was one of the swiftest military campaigns in recent history.
We helped the Bangla Muslims to regain their freedom and dignity. The Indo-Pak War of 1971 and the Birth of Bangladesh are very significant achievements of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. As I was then serving in an Establishment under the Cabinet Secretariat, I had direct and personal understanding of her Foreign Policy Initiatives. She had personally approved our military Operation in Chittagong Hill Tracts. In the conduct of this War, we had faced a very critical moment and it needed her personal intervention and a decision that she alone could make. I rendered my services and had overcome the challenge posed by that critical situation. The importance of this situation could be understood as it needed an intervention from the Prime Minister. I am now asking the Government of India to recognize my GALLANT response in enemy’s territory without any concern for my personal safety.
This War is memorable to me for several reasons. 1. I had proceeded to an active combat zone without my personal weapon/gun. 2. I was recommended for a ‘Gallantry Award’. I was recommended for” VIR CHAKRA” and the award citation did not go beyond the Office of The Director of Medical Services (ARMY), Medical Branch of Adjutant General’s Office, Army Headquarters and did not reach the Military Secretary’s Branch(Army) Ministry of Defense in time and the award was not granted on technical grounds. But 12 years later, my Formation Commander still remembered the role I had played and gave his appreciation in a formal letter. 3. I have shown gallantry without firing a bullet and I had received appreciation from the enemy soldiers that we had captured. I shall narrate my war-time experience in short stories now and then as the information is still ‘classified ‘.
Lieutenant Governor of Andaman & Nicobar Islands (December 1985 to December 1989) – Lieutenant General(Retd) TS Oberoi, PVSM, VrC., former General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Headquarters Southern Command, Pune, former Inspector General, Special Frontier Force, former Commandant, Headquarters Establishment No. 22. He is the tall person in this photo wearing a dark brown turban. I knew him since 1971. Under his able leadership, the Liberation of Bangladesh had commenced in the year 1971 during the Indo-Pak War. Apart from his military wisdom, he took good care of all men under his Command. While I was proceeding to the Chittagong Hill Tracts, he had individually greeted all the members of my team and had delayed the departure of aircraft to ensure that a hot breakfast was served to all the men boarding the aircraft. He paid personal attention to all the aspects of the military mission to ensure the well-being of men apart from achieving success in accomplishing the military task. The sense of warmth he radiated is easily felt when we meet him in person. His grandson provided me the link to this photo. Photo Credit – Trishna-Ajay-Picasa Web Album.
The remarks made by Lt Col B K Narayan on May 13, 1972, in my Annual Confidential Report for 1971-72 are as follows: “A very conscientious and Tough MO who worked hard during the Bangladesh OPs. He did very well and showed Maturity which was beyond the call of duty. I have recommended this Officer for a gallantry award for which he deserves eminently. He is physically Tough and cheerful. Is a fresh entrant with less than 2 years of Service and yet he displayed capability and confidence.
About Guns, Victory and Gallantry Awards. Bangladesh Ops of 1971.
As an Officer of the Indian Army, I received training in the use of a 9 mm Sub Machine Gun known as ‘Sten Gun ‘ or ‘ SMG’ (” Carbine, Machine, Sten “) and had always passed in my weapon training tests. It is a devastating close-range weapon. It is a compact, lightweight automatic weapon firing pistol ammunition and it would fire without any lubrication. The personal weapon that was issued to me was held in the Unit and is generally taken out for range practice and weapon training. Being a Medical Officer, I also spend a lot of time away from my Hospital and provide medical cover during troop training and exercises. In 1971, as the war clouds started gathering, I started spending more time away from the Hospital where I was posted. As the tensions started mounting, my formation was asked to get ready for deploying troops and to get them ready for the war, they had to be moved and repositioned at locations closer to the border. When the airlift of troops began, I was far away from the Hospital and had to board the aircraft with combat-ready troops without my personal weapon. Brigadier TS Oberoi, our Commander was present at the airfield during this predawn flight and he was personally supervising very minute details and was making sure that the men were treated well. He gave orders that the troops could not be asked to board the plane until they were served a hot breakfast. He was personally shaking hands and gave encouragement to each one of us. Being a doctor, they were all used to seeing me without a personal weapon and my Brigadier also did not raise any objection when I got into the plane without my gun. After having reached the border location, I was still hoping that I could manage to get a gun for my personal protection. Officially, still there was no war and my expectation being that finding a gun would not be much of a problem. When I had checked and asked for an ‘SMG’, the gun for which I had prior weapon training, I was told that they had none to issue. I was asked to carry an assault rifle and many Infantry Officers told me that they love the rifle better than the light and compact SMG. I accepted the gun despite its heavy weight and bulky ammunition. I was not yet attached to the Battalion with which I would participate during the operation. Soon, the basic battle plans were revealed, and the most important detail was that we would operate on a ‘manpack’ basis. That means there would be no vehicles and we literally carry everything on our backs and move as a column and we were cautioned that we would not be resupplied for the first seven days of the war. We should be self-sufficient in all aspects for one whole week which includes fighting the enemy. I had arrived at this border village with my bedding, books, clothes etc., and was not knowing anything about the type of operation that was in store for me. I decided to leave everything at the regimental Quarter Master Stores and proceed on foot with the men with a backpack. I had my team of medical assistants and I had to assign them to different companies. Then I had the problem of my medical supplies for the battle. I had to carry every band-aid, dressing, pills, medicines that I would need. Nothing else would be supplied in the early and most difficult phase of the war. My medical assistants could only carry the load for their company role. I had to support the Battalion Headquarters and all other support personnel. I took a deep look at my medical supplies. Then I made my decision. I decided that I would rather go for the war with my medical mission and totally forget about defending myself during the war. I made a decision to return my gun, my bulky ammunition and I would be able to serve my men better if I have my medical supplies and I truly need more of it to protect others and there was no room to worry about my personal safety. In the first conference with my Battalion Commander, Col BK Narayan, that was the very first time I had met him in my life, I told him that nothing else really matters to me other than providing and caring for the men during combat and I would be happy to lift an extra load of medical supplies rather than carrying a gun to protect myself. Colonel. Narayan could immediately understand my decision and in the first battle briefing, he had announced that the Adjutant would defend the doctor for the entire duration of the operation. Captain Kottayam Chacko Kurien, an Officer of Jewish faith had accepted this additional responsibility with great seriousness and he had solemnly pledged that I would be the last person to get killed in the Unit during the war in which I had marched everywhere along with the men without my personal weapon.
I never met Brigadier TS Oberoi after he had bid me farewell at the airfield. He got a promotion to the rank of Major General and moved to New Delhi and I spent my time on the Himalayan frontier. In 1983, he was the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief at Headquarters Southern Command, PUNE and since I was serving under his Command, I sent him a formal letter mentioning that I was seeking release from Army Service. He immediately wrote back to me and I am pleased to quote a few lines from the letter that I had received from him:
1.” Major R. Rudranarasimham of Army Medical Corps……….was closely associated with my organization during 1971 Indo-Pak War, thus, I would highlight certain commendable traits of this officer during this period of national crisis which certainly deserve befitting recognition on his relinquishing the Army.
2. During the Indo-Pak War the officer was a medical officer with regular troops. He rose to the call of duty and displayed tremendous courage and total dedication to his duty. He carried out the given task with perfect organizational acumen and professional knowledge. He weathered tremendous physical and mental stress with utmost zeal and remained cool and composed during the operations. For this display of gallant qualities in the face of enemy the officer was recommended for a gallantry award but was not among the fortunate ones to receive it………….”
The letter signed by Lieutenant General T S Oberoi, PVSM, VrC dated 14 Feb 1983 is still in my possession and it lets me celebrate the Victory in the 1971 War.
Remarks of Lieutenant General T S Oberoi, PVSM, VrC, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Headquarters Southern Command Pune 411001.He had remarked about my participation in the Indo-Pak War of 1971.
General Sujan Singh Uban, Special Frontier Force and The Liberation of Bangladesh.
THE PHANTOMS OF CHITTAGONG: THE FIFTH ARMY IN BANGLADESH:
Major General (Retd) Sujan Singh Uban, AVSM, the former Inspector General of Special Frontier Force had authored a book titled ‘The Phantoms of Chittagong: The Fifth Army in Bangladesh’. He had narrated the military exploits of his Force while operating in the difficult terrain of Chittagong Hill Tracts during the Indo-Pak War of 1971. He did not discuss the role of Indian Army Medical Corps and the Medical Plan for his Fifth Army in Bangladesh.
The Flag of Indian Army Medical Corps. The AMC personnel are Combatants. The professional Service rendered inside enemy territory and showing courage in the face of enemy action deserves appropriate recognition. Gallantry Awards are not merely intended for firing bullets.
THE SPIRITS OF SPECIAL FRONTIER FORCE:
The U.S. President Richard Nixon and the Secretary of State Dr. Henry A. Kissinger opposed this military action to initiate the Liberation of Bangladesh during 1971. However, this political opposition had not undermined the purpose of the multinational military alliance/pact. Soon after the Liberation War, we were happy to extend our cooperation to the Nixon administration and had planted electronic listening devices to gather intelligence inside the occupied territory of Tibet.
Dr. R. R. Narasimham, B.Sc., M.B.B.S.,
Service Number. MS-8466, Rank. LIEUTENANT/CAPTAIN AMC/SSC