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Military Operations

1947-48 War
1965 War
1971 War

India has fourth three short and intense wars with Pakistan. In all three occasions the aim of the enemy (Pakistan) was to isolate the Kashmir Valley and impose its sovereignty over it. By this action Pakistan aimed to open its links with China and pose a dual military threat to India on our Northern borders. The plan of attack largely a mix of conventional and unconventional; first launched infiltrators across the line of actual control primarily to motivate the local population to revolt, sending irregular para-military forces to de-stabilise the law and order system of the state government and then finally launching well planned and deliberate attacks in strength supported by heavy artillery and armored formations.

It is to the credit of our brave officers and men that in all the three wars the evil designs of our adversary to capture the Valley were thwarted. The contribution of our determined and patriotic population in defending the territorial integrity is a matter of pride and a source of inspiration for future generations to emulate.

Situation Immediately After Independence

Soon after the independence in 1947, Pakistan wanted to capture the Kashmir Valley being a majority Muslim area. To achieve this aim they sent infiltrators to destablise the law and order system followed by well-planned infantry attacks. To some extent they were successful in capturing large areas in Uri, Poonch and Rajouri Sector. Scores of Hindu men, women and children were massacred. Maharaja Hari Singh had, till then not signed the Instrument of Accession of Kashmir into independent India. Soon after it was signed, the Indian Army entered Kashmir and launched regular attacks to push back the enemy. The overall situation with regards to areas in Pakistan hand was that before the Indian Army could move into forestall the advancing Pak irregulars and later evict them. Parts of Naushera, Jhangar, Rajouri, Mendhar, Thana Mandi and Poonch had fallen into Pak hands.

1947-48 Operation

In November 1947, operations were planned for the relief of 2000 state force personnel and 60,000 refugees besieged at different places in Jammu and Poonch. The plan envisaged 161 Inf. Bde sending a column South from Uri to Poonch, while 50 Para Brigade was to link up from South via Naushera, Jhangar and Kotli.

The Southern force advanced to Kotli against stiff resistance and on 26 November the column entered Kotli and raised the siege. The Northern force started its advance on 20 November but near Kahuta it found a bridge demolished by own besieged garrison which mistook own column for the enemy. Thus only a battalion under Lt. Col. (later Brig) Pritam Singh was able to push through to Poonch. The planned link up was called off and the Southern force was ordered to fall back and ‘firm in’ at Jhangar.

Meanwhile, the enemy concentrated 15000 troops around Jhangar and attacked on night 22/23 December. Hopelessly out numbered, our troops had to withdraw to Naushera and Jhangar was lost. All able bodies persons were pressed into the defence including 158 orphans organized by Brig Usman as the ‘BALAK SENA’. Naushera was then attacked by the enemy but was ably defended. At Tain Dhar one Platoon of 1 RAJPUT held on till the last man. In this action Nk Yadunath Singh was posthumously awarded the PVC. The attack was beaten back and the enemy left behind 2000 dead. Brig. Usman was also killed during this action at Jhangar.

In May 1948 as the attack on Naushera became imminent; a mobile column named the ‘Chita Force’ was formed with Lt. Col. Rajinder Singh ‘Sparrow’ as it’s Cdr. 7 Cav, less a Sqn, two tk troops of CIH and 1 RAJPUT were grouped together in Chhamb on night 7/8 January. On 8 January 1948 this force hit Asar Kadala which was the Pak base for ops against Naushera and completely annihilated the enemy; thus successfully disrupting the Pakistan plan for attacking Naushera.

In spring 1948, our offensive was launched again. Jhangar was captured in March 1948, and Rajouri on 12 April 1948. In the battle of Jhangar Lt. Col. ‘Sparrow’ was awarded Mahavir Chakra. During the advance to Rajouri, Capt. R. R. Rane (Engrs) was awarded the Param Vir Chakra for clearing the mines on the road to Rajouri and keeping the tanks of CIH moving to Chingus. Later CIH led a gruesome advance under Lt. Co Zorawar Singh through fourteen miles long Tawi bed; and unconventional axis for armour, but reached Rajouri in the quickest possible time. A column of Jammu Brigade under Lt. Col. Bhagwan Singh advanced along route Riasi – Tuli – Budil and captured Budil in October 1948.

In May 1948 our forces operating in this area were placed under Jammu Forces commanded by Maj. Gen. Atma Singh. A relief column sent to establish link up with Poonch was set up at Potha on 17th June. However, the link up could not be established and the column returned with 1000 refugees. The link up with the Poonch Garrison was re-established on 20 November 1948 at TOPA. Mendhar was captured by an attack from the rear on 23 November 1948.

The siege of Poonch sustained for 10 months due to heroic leadership of Brig. Pritam Singh. The gallant exploits of the IAF pilots under Air Cdre Mehar Singh had brought in guns, ammunitions and supplies over a hastily constructed runway under observed artillery fire of the enemy. The ceasefire brought an end to further operations.

1965 War

In the hope of appealing to religious sentiments on the basis of the two Nation theories against our secular democracy and thus tempting the population of Jammu and Kashmir to revolt against the country, Pakistan launched infiltrators into Jammu and Kashmir during the last week of July 1965.

In the area of Poonch they also hoped to cut off our troops by interrupting the roads leading to it, unsettle them and later launched an attack. After engaging our forward posts in fierce fighting on 8 August 1965, infiltrators for this purpose were slipped in from west of Mendhar and through Sauji-Mandi. They were also tasked to create unrest in the villages. But our population stood firm and in fact gave us information about their hideouts. These raiders attacked our bridges and installations in the rear, occupied the ridge overlooking Mendhar from the North. By 15 August Poonch had thus been isolated.

Maj. Gen. Amreek Singh, the then, GOC decided to take action against the raiders in Poonch. By 27 August, the features dominating Mandi town and areas around Sauji and Loran were cleared off the infiltrators. In the process Capt. C. M. Singh of GARH RIF, who displayed gallantry of the highest order was killed and award MVC posthumously. Of the local population Shri Gulamuddin was awarded Ashok Chakra. Once this task was done, it was decided to launch an offensive and link up with our troops advancing from the Valley and Hajipir. Thereafter enemy pickets at Raja and Rani overlooking Poonch were attacked on night 1/2 September 1965. These were finally captured after fierce and savage hand to hand fighting on 5/6 September night. The intensity of the battle can be gauged from the enemy’s casualties. It left behind 79 killed and as many wounded. The gallant action of our troops was recognized with awards of an MVC to Lt. Col. N. N. Khanna (Posthumous), CO 2 SIKH, seven VrCs and 12 other awards. The link up with our troops advancing from the Valley was finally effected at ZIARAT on 10 September 1965. This sealed the fate of infiltrators in the Uri-Poonch bulge.

The sacrifice of soldiers and civilians of the district of Rajouri and Poonch during 1965 operation shall remain a unique example of camaraderie and brotherhood in the common cause of defending the Motherland.

1971 War

Once again in 1971, the enemy set his eyes upon capturing Poonch. For this purpose he mustered a division size force of eight battalions. On the night 3/4 December 1971, the enemy opened fire with arty guns, machine guns and rockets all along the LC and launched an attack in the Poonch Sector.

Pakistan attempted to capture our posts immediately North of Poonch and the heights dominating BETAR and CHIRIKOT NALA. At the same time he tried to cut off the road near Kalai Bridge by capturing the heights overlooking it. For the latter purpose he in infiltrated a battalion each along the Darungali and Mandi Nalas. Some commandos and Mujahids were also infiltrated simultaneously towards Mandi. The attacks on the post were pressed home with determination on the first tow nights. But Pakistan had under estimated the will power and determination of our troops. Without losing a single post, the attacks were blunted by 10 December 1971.

It was now our turn. On night 10/11 December 1971, an attack was launched on a feature called ‘Nangi Tekri’ West of Krishna Ghati and it was captured. Later, two half-hearted attempts were again made by the enemy towards Poonch on night 16/17 December 1971. But by that time the enemy had enough. He in turn lost a post West of BETAR to us on the same night. In all the enemy had suffered 322 dead and over 761 wounded.