Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Defence of Fazilka still a matter of debate among historians-Remembering 1971 Indo-Pak War Heroes

Chander Parkash/ TNS

Fazilka, December 14
Was it faulty planning or lack of professional approach that led to a large number of casualties in the Indian Army in the course of capturing of its territory by Pakistan's Army in the 1971 war?

A section of residents of this town and surrounding villages have still been waiting for the answer to this question from the authorities concerned despite the fact that 39 years have passed since the Indo-Pak war was fought which led to the creation of an independent country Bangladesh, out of Pakistan.

During a tour to different villages, a section of the residents offered different stories in connection with the Indo-Pak war of 1971, which witnessed a large number of casualties on the Indian side. Though various organisations of India including its Army authorities might have held the opinion that Indian Army had done wonders in Fazilka sector and defeated the enemy, a section of Indian and foreign-based war commentators hold different views.

While John H. Gill, an internationally recognised military historian, who has served the US Army, in his book titled 'An Atlas of 1971 India-Pakistan War: The Creation of Bangladesh', has claimed that in the 1971 Indo-Pak war, Indian defenders, located west of Fazilka across the border from the Sulenmanki headworks, lost a significant chunk of land to Pakistan's 105 Brigade despite repeated and costly counter attacks due to poor position and inept leadership of its 67 Brigade.

However, indecision on the part of Pakistan's high command in connection with the implementation of its plan, called 'Changez Khan', proved to be lucky for India. Under the plan, 
105 Brigade and 25 Brigade was to drive east from the vicinity of Bahawalnagar to cross the international border before turning northeast to push for Bathinda and Ludhiana, mentioned Gill in his book.

A retired Major General Sukhwant Singh, in his book titled 'Defence of the Western Border, India's War Since Independence' has claimed that there was a detailed plan for the security of Fazilka, which was a vital communication centre and falling of the same into Pakistani hand, could have enabled the enemy to develop various variable thrusts into the Indian territory.

He claimed that the original plan to defend Fazilka was changed as per the directions of seniors just before the 1971 conflict.

The Beriwala bridge in Fazilka sector, which was captured by the enemy within an hour or so of the attack on December 3, could not be taken back despite five counterattacks till December 13-14 (1971). Almost all the counterattacks witnessed heavy casualties of the Indian Army personnel.

Meanwhile, a series of functions would be held at Asafwala later this month where a memorial has been raised in the memory of supreme sacrifices made by the Army jawans of Four Jat Regiment during the 1971 Indo-Pak war in Fazilka sector, by the Shaheedon Ki Samadhi Committee.

No comments: