Indo Pak War of 1965 and Lieutenant Colonel Ardeshir Burjorzir Tarapore

The year 1965 is very eventful for India and Pakistan. Military General Ayub Khan ruling Pakistan at the time. Ayub Khan believed that Indian army was incapable of defending India and a few right blow at the right time will be enough to  bring Hindu morale down. The General felt 1965 was opportune moment to attack India when the country was still smarting from defeat in the hands of Chinese in 1962 war. On domestic and international fronts, there were many things going for Pakistan :
  • Pakistani economy was doing well, 
  • Politically Pakistan was stable, 
  • Pakistan had international friends in the US and China, 
  • Pakistan had access to sophisticated military equipment courtesy the USA.                                                                   

Many believed it was foreign minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto along with a few generals that had goaded Ayub Khan to attack India.
  • It all started with Operation Desert Hawk in April of 1965 at the Rann of Kutch. Both armies got involved in the skirmish. Dispute was settled by a tribunal that awarded Pakistan 350 sq km of territory.  
  • Emboldened, Pakistan unleashed Operation Gibraltar in the month of August, when Pakistani army regulars and special forces infiltrated Jammu and Kashmir.  Pakistani forces made progress and occupied areas Uri, Poonch and Tithwal sectors. India retaliated by occupying Haji Pir Pass 8 km inside in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. 
  • On 1st September of 1965, Pakistan unleashed Operation Grand Slam on Chamb Sector to occupy Akhnoor. In order to divert pressure from Chamb sector, India opened attack on Pakistan’s Punjab towards Lahore and Sialkot. 
  • In the second attempt, Indians crossed Ichhogil canal on 6th Sep, 1965.  A unit of Jat regiment, 3 Jat, crossed the canal on 6th September and occupied Batapore town (Jallo Mur) thus bringing Lahore airport within its range. Lieutenant colonel Desmond Hayde was commanding 3 Jat. Incidentally, 3 Jat had  to occupy Batapore twice within a span of fifteen days in Sep of 1965.
  • Operation Wind Up was started, between 6 to 8 Sep, 1965, to cut off Amritsar and Jalandhar from New Delhi. Plan was to move towards New Delhi by defeating Indians. Pakistan army captured Khem Karan and was setup for battle of Asal Uttar, where Pakistani army suffered one of the biggest defeat of the war. 
  • Meanwhile, in the Sialkot sector, one of the biggest tank battles happened at battles of Phillora and in the battle of Chawinda. Lieutenant Colonel Ardeshir Burzorji Tarapore, commanding officer of Poona Horse played an important role in Indian victory at Phillora. 
  • Lieutenant Colonel Tarapore’s regiment met with the Pakistani Army’s heavy armour charge from Wazirwali. He held his ground and attacked Phillora under continuous enemy tank and artillery fire. Though his own tank was hit several times, he maintained his pivots at both these places, supporting the infantry attack of Chawinda. 
  • Though wounded, Lieutenant Colonel Tarapore  refused to be evacuated. He led his regiment to capture Wazirwali on 14 September, and Jassoran and Butur-Dograndi on 16 September 1965.
  • Inspired by his leadership, the regiment attacked the enemy armor and destroyed approximately sixty Pakistani Army tanks, suffering only nine tank casualties. However, Tarapore was killed when his tank was hit and was enveloped in flames.
  • Lieutenant Colonel Tarapore was  commissioned in Poona Horse on 1 April 1951. He rose to become Commanding Officer. Lieutenant Tarapore was awarded Param Vir Chakra posthumously.
  • Lieutenant Colonel Ardeshir Burzorji Tarapore, belonged to the family of General Ratanjiba who led the army of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, who was awarded 100 villages of which Tarapore was the main village. Lieutenant Tarapore obtained his name from the village. 
It is true in 1965 India did not win outright victory. Battle of Chawinda ended in a stalemate with UN brokering a peace. Neither did Pakistan attain her objecting of ceding Kashmir from India, despite several aggressive attacks. Pakistan had superior equipment, India had better men behind vintage machines. Pakistani leadership believed that one Pakistani soldier equalled to four Indian soldiers. According to General Ayub Khan, “Hindu morale would not stand a few hard blows at the right time and place.” They certainly had not met with the likes of Havildar Abdul Hamid, Lieutenant colonel Ardeshir Burjorzir Tarapore, Lieutenant Colonel Desmond Hayde. Pakistan was the aggressor then. Pakistan believes India attacked her, and Pakistan is the winner because it repulsed Indian attack. India not only withstood attack by a superior force, in counter attack it occupied enemy territory that was the basis of peace exchange in Taskhent.

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