SPECIAL FRONTIER FORCE-OPERATION EAGLE 1971-LIBERATION WAR OF BANGLADESH – GALLANTRY AWARD:
The Indo-Pak War of 1971 involved a War between India and Pakistan and the War was fought by the members of the armed forces on either side. In the Eastern Sector, the Indian Army military operation was planned and executed by Headquarters Eastern Command. I had participated in Operation Eagle, a military operation in Chittagong Hill Tracts which was in reality an Undeclared War of India on Pakistan. This military operation was planned personally by India’s Prime Minister, Srimati. Indira Gandhi. She had personally approved the battle plan, the rules of engagement, and the issue of Marching Orders. She made all the critical decisions. The Prime Minister’s Office, the Cabinet Secretariat had passed the executive orders and instructions for the conduct of this military operation. She had never delegated her powers to other Staff members or assistants and had exercised a tight control in the execution of all military acts as per the battle plan that was approved by her. In the history of Republic of India, for the first time, the Prime Minister conducted a military operation of this magnitude using assistance from nontraditional fighting elements. This is of historical importance. I give her due credit for her bold initiative, qualities of leadership and her personal attention to all the critical aspects of our military mission. The records, the documents, the signal communications that directly pertain to Operation Eagle are not held at HQ Eastern Command and Army Headquarters in New Delhi. The Indian Army field commanders had no direct involvement in this Operation and they did not issue any orders for my participation or deployment for this military act. The Battle Plan of Operation Eagle includes the rules and conditions that formulated the eligibility criteria of its participants to receive Military Honours and Awards with or without any affiliation to Indian Army or the Ministry of Defence. Under these eligibility criteria several Civilian Officers serving in the Directorate General of Security of the Cabinet Secretariat had received Military Honours and Awards in recognition of their service rendered during Operation Eagle. These include Shri. Sujan Singh Uban who had received the Ati Vishisht Seva Medal, Dr. Ramesh Chandra who had received the Vishisht Seva Medal, Shri. Tara Chand Pande who had received the Vishisht Seva Medal, and Shri. G B Velankar who had received the Gallantry Award of Vir Chakra.
MS-8466 Captain. R. Rudra Narasimham, AMC/SSC had served as Medical Officer at Headquarters Establishment No. 22 C/O 56 APO from September 1971 to December 1974. During the Indo-Pak War of 1971, he had participated in a mission described as ‘difficult’ and ‘hazardous’. He had provided medical support to the troops operating in the roadless, forest terrain of Chittagong Hill Tracts. His Commander, Major General Sujan Singh Uban, AVSM, the former Inspector General of Special Frontier Force had published a book titled ‘The Phantoms of Chittagong : The Fifth Army in Bangladesh’. General Uban had narrated the difficult nature of his military mission and the successful accomplishment of his task. For the Courage, Determination, Resolve, and Confidence displayed while operating inside the enemy territory, this Medical Officer was recommended for the award of ‘VIR CHAKRA’. The Citation recommending this Gallantry Award was made by Lieutenant Colonel B K Narayan of the Regiment of Artillery, the Infantry Commander of the South Column Unit of Operation Eagle in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. The military act that won recognition involved courage in the performance of military duties with minimal protection while facing the threat from two different sources; 1. the threat of enemy forces in the area, and 2. the threat of Mizo rebels who had operated on both sides of the border between India, and Pakistan in that area. The risks of conducting a medical evacuation( which is the responsibility of the Force headquarters of Operation Eagle and not of the South Column Unit ) was fully understood by the Unit Commander and the operational Force Commander Brigadier T S Oberoi and SFF Commander Major General Sujan Singh Uban. However, the Force Headquarters had failed to execute its Medical Evacuation Plan for the battle and the Unit was assigned this difficult task in an area where there are no roads. The Unit Commander did not order this Unit Medical Officer to personally direct this medical evacuation and escort the battle wounded to their destination. The Medical Officer on his own initiative had responded to this challenge and went beyond the Call of his Duty and had completed the task without exposing his medical staff( Nursing Assistants ) to any risk to their lives. The Medical Officer, apart from his role as a doctor, had performed the duties of the Army Medical Corps Nursing Assistants who provide nursing care and comfort during the process of medical evacuation. In the Annual Confidential Report for 1971-72 initiated by Lieutenant Colonel. B K Narayan, this Medical Officer’s performance during the 1971 War had been very warmly appreciated.The fact of recommendation made to confer gallantry award to this Medical Officer was duly recorded. Colonel Iqbal Singh of the Regiment of Artillery had served as the Chief of Staff at the Force Headquarters of Op Eagle Commanded by Brigadier T S Oberoi during this Operation in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. During 1972, this Medical Officer was posted to a Unit that was Commanded by Colonel Iqbal Singh. This Medical Officer had applied for the grant of Direct Permanent Commission(DPC) in the Army Medical Corps. In his remarks on that application for the grant of DPC, Colonel Iqbal Singh gave a very detailed account of the Medical Officer’s performance during the 1971 War. During the AMC Examination of 1972 that was held in the month of September, this Medical Officer was interviewed by the Director General of Armed Forces Medical Services(DGAFMS) in the presence of a Selection Committee. When questioned by the DGAFMS, the Medical Officer had narrated his role in providing medical support to troops involved in a difficult Operation. The DGAFMS had openly praised this Officer and had commended his performance and had concluded the interview with no further questions. The Officer was granted Direct Permanent Commission in the AMC with effect from March 07, 1973 and allotted his personal number of MR-03277 K. The Medical Officer was not awarded the Gallantry Award for which he was recommended. The reasons stated by the Ministry of Defence were flimsy and at the best ridiculous. The reason for not conferring the award was communicated to his South Column Unit of Special Frontier Force; the reason stated was that of the delay in submitting the Citation. The delay is just understandable. The Officer was deputed to the Special Frontier Force and his Commander Lieutenant Colonel. B K Narayan was not aware of the rules involved in submitting such a Citation in the time frame expected by the Military Secretary’s Branch of Army Hqrs, Ministry of Defence. Operation Eagle had established specific criteria and eligibility requirements for recognition to receive Service Medals, Honours, and Awards. We had followed those rules given by the Prime Minister and the Cabinet Secretariat.The citation was sent direct to Army Headquarters Medical Directorate and had not used the Staff channels that Units operating under the command of HQ Eastern Command would have used. This Officer is of the view that a Gallantry Award is not the equivalent of winning a Prize in a Lucky Draw. This officer had stated that the “History cannot be rewritten”. At his Home Page of Bhavanajagat, the Officer had published a blog post with the title:”The Medical Plan for Fifth Army, The Experience of Madhurya in Chittagong Hill Tracts.” The Officer had narrated his account of a memorable Medical Evacuation of his battle wounded patients from the captured enemy post in the Chittagong Hill Tracts to the Border Security Post(BSF) of Bona Pansuria in the Mizo Hills. From that BSF Post, the war casualties were airlifted to a Field Hospital in Lunglei Mizoram. This remarkable journey on foot through enemy territory is known to all the Officers and men of his South Column Unit. The men had belonged to the Companies Commanded by Major Savendra Singh Negi, and Major G B Velankar. Both these officers were awarded Vir Chakra for the display of their Courage. This AMC Officer was the only medical support person to reach the just captured enemy post and was informed by the Unit Commander that a helicopter flight was not available for Casualty Evacuation. The men were greatly surprised. The Unit had not carried stretchers, blankets, and medical resuscitation fluids. The Fifth Army of Operation Eagle had not established Medical Staging Posts/ ‘Advanced Dressing Station’ in the Field for collection and Evacuation of Battle Casualties. This Medical Officer had courageously responded to this situation that was the result of the total failure of the Battle Casualty Evacuation Plan of Operation Eagle. The South Column Unit had not anticipated this difficulty posed by the lack of helicopter flight for airlifting the battle wounded soldiers. This Medical Officer had directed the preparation of improvised stretchers and the Unit Commander assembled a party of about sixty-five men to carry all the critically wounded patients on the improvised stretchers. The Medical Officer led this Medical Evacuation Team and he had no help from an Infantry Officer. They made a night halt in the forest during the long journey. This AMC Officer apart from giving medical care had also assumed the duties and responsibilities of a Nursing Assistant and that of an Ambulance Assistant during this historical march. He had remained vigilant, giving care, comfort, and reassurance to his patients and kept them in good spirits during a tedious and slow journey. His patients had survived this ordeal and had provided a very telling account about their evacuation through enemy territory. The BSF Post staff at Bona Pansuria in Mizo Hills had received this team with a sense of great rejoice for the wounded had won in their battle and had vanquished the enemy in their attack. He and his team walked back to the South Column Unit location marching a total distance of over 80 miles in 24 hours. Lieutenant General T S Oberoi, PVSM, VrC, the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief at Headquarters Southern Command, Pune had issued a written testimonial during 1983 and had recorded his appreciation for the Services rendered by this Medical Officer during the 1971 War.
The President’s Secretariat had established a Help line to receive requests and grievances from the public. I had requested the President of India to review the decision made by the Ministry of Defence in 1971 and had complained that the act of rejecting the Citation to award VIR CHAKRA in recognition of my courageous performance inside enemy territory, was ‘unfair’ and ‘unjust’. The President’s Secretariat had registered my grievance and had issued the following Grievance Registration Number : PRSEC/E/2009/05526.
I had stated that I could not give up my claim for the Gallantry Award and this recognition would benefit other members of Indian Army Medical Corps and would inspire them to distinguish themselves in providing comfort and in boosting up the morale of our fighting men and women of our Armed Forces.
THE STATUS OF GRIEVANCE PETITION TO THE PRESIDENT OF INDIA : AUGUST 31, 2009
On August 31, 2009, The President’s Secretariat had transferred my petition to the Ministry of Defence. For further information in this matter, I was asked to directly discuss with Shri. Anand Misra, Joint Secretary ( Estt&PG ), Room No. 97, South Block, Ministry of Defence, New Delhi. His telephone number is 237 92043. His e-mail address is : email@example.com
THE STATUS OF GRIEVANCE PETITION TO THE PRESIDENT OF INDIA : DECEMBER 28, 2009 :
On December 28, 2009 I had received a Registered Post Letter dated 2nd/3rd December, 2009 bearing No. 3533/2009/D( Cer ) from Government of India, Ministry of Defence. Shri. A.K. Gupta, Under Secretary ( Ceremonials ), Ministry of Defence signed the letter. The letter is as under :
Subject :- Grievance petition for declining the gallantry award of Vir Chakra for his acts performed as Medical Officer in Military Operations in Chittagong Hill Tracts during the Indo-Pak War of 1971 – regarding.
“I am directed to refer to your E-Mail dated 25.8.2009 received through Centralized Public Grievances Redressal and Monitoring System, on the above subject and to say that the case has been examined in consultation with Army HQ. Army HQ have intimated that Honours and Awards are conferred within a specific period from the date of the act. As the incident mentioned by you is more than 32 years old, the same cannot be considered for any award at this belated stage.”
Indian Army HQ gave me the same response 32 years ago. The ‘Citation’ which had recommended this gallantry award of ‘Vir Chakra’ had never reached them on the stipulated date. Two infantry Officers of my Unit were awarded ‘Vir Chakra’ for the same incident in which I had participated. As a Medical Officer, I know the technique described as “EXHUMATION”. The word ‘exhume’ means to dig out of the earth or disinter and the process helps to bring something hidden to ‘light’. The ‘truth’ of this over 32 years old incident is buried in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. I know the exact place where the ‘truth’ is buried. I may have to dig out of the earth and show this truth and let the truth speak for itself.
GOVERNMENT OF INDIA – GIVE ME PERMISSION TO NARRATE THIS OVER 32 YEAR OLD INCIDENT :
I am a Doctor of Medicine who is duly trained in the Art of Writing Case Histories. While narrating an incident and recording Case History, there are five fundamental “W”s that should be answered. The five “W”s are :
1.WHAT ? : A description of events that narrate the incident.
2. WHEN ? : The time frame during which the incident played out.
3. WHERE ? : The physical site where the incident took place.
4. WHO ? : The identities of the parties involved in the incident.
5. WHY ? : The underlying reasons that shaped this incident.
I had asked Shri. Anand Misra, Joint Secretary, Government of India, Ministry of Defence to give me permission to narrate this incident.
MY PRESIDENTIAL CONNECTIONS :
The President of India is the Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces. The Commissioned Officers are appointed by the President and they are vested with authority. Since Commissioned Officers serve at the pleasure of the President, I just ventured to explore some of my connections with the Presidents of India.
This Grievance Registration Number of PRSEC/E/2009/05526 has now established a formal connection between me and Shrimati. Pratibha Devisingh Patil who is the President of India since 25 July, 2007. I had connections with four distinguished people who had the honour of serving as the President of India in the past. I am delighted to share that information about my Presidential Connections.
Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was the President of India from May 1962 to May 1967. My maternal grandfather’s brother had married Dr. Radhakrishnan’s daughter. My maternal grandfather, Dr. Kasturi. Narayana Murthy, M.D was the Professor of Medicine at Madras Medical College and had lived in Mylapore, Madras. His younger brother, Shri Kasturi. Seshagiri Rao, an attorney, had also lived in Mylapore. I used to often visit him and spend my summer time reading a huge collection of story books that they had. His wife, my maternal grandmother, Smt. Rukmini had introduced me to Dr. Radhakrishnan who had his own residence in Mylapore, Madras. I was a kid and he knew my mother Smt. Annapurna who was known in the family circles as Ammaji and we had a very pleasant conversation about routine family matters.
Dr. Zakir Hussain was the President of India from May 1967 to May 1969. I had the opportunity to meet him in person at the Rashtrapati Bhavan during June 1967. I was a student at Kurnool Medical College and I had represented the State of Andhra Pradesh in a National Student Seminar on National Integration at New Delhi. He was full of grace and charms you with his sweet and persuasive talk. The Student Delegates had discussed with him a variety of subjects that are important for promoting National Unity.
Shri. V. V. Giri was the President of India from August 1969 to August 1974 and was the acting President from May 1969 to July 1969.I have known Shri V. V .Giri while I was a kid and during the time I had spent at Mylapore, Madras with my maternal grandfather, Dr. Kasturi. Narayana Murthy, M.D. My grandfather had a very good relationship with Shri. Giri and used to visit him often while he was in Madras. I was granted Short Service Commission in the Indian Army Medical Corps. The Presidential Appointment granting me the rank of Lieutenant in the Regular Army from the 26th day of July 1970 was signed by President V. V. Giri on 20th day of September 1971( Registered No. M 3692 ).
Dr. Neelam Sanjiva Reddy was India’s President from July 1977 to July 1982. My maternal grandfather, Dr. Kasturi. Narayana Murthy, M.D. knew Neelam Sanjiva Reddy when he was a young freedom fighter. In my blog post titled ‘Defining Indian Identity – The Language Factor’ published during August 2007, I had mentioned that Dr. K. N. Murthy, M.D. was present on the Dais along with Tanguturi Prakasam Pantulu garu, and Neelam Sanjiva Reddy when the State of Andhra Rashtra came into existence on October 01, 1953 in Kurnool while Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had attended the inaugural function. As a student at Government Giriraj Arts College, Nizamabad, Andhra pradesh I had attended a few public meetings addressed by Neelam Sanjiva Reddy. He was an impressive and eloquent speaker. I was granted Direct Permanent Commission in the Indian Army Medical Corps during March 1973. My Presidential Appointment granting me the rank of Captain in the regular Army from the 7th day of March 1973 was signed by President Neelam Sanjiva Reddy on 18th day of October, 1979( Registered No. M-4439).
THE STATUS OF MY PETITION/GRIEVANCE AT THE MINISTRY OF DEFENCE:
THE HIGHER FORCE OF KRUPA :
I am seeking this Gallantry Award of ‘VIR CHAKRA’ to seek recognition and acknowledgment of a Higher Force known in Sanskrit language as ‘KRUPA’. I had known very distinguished people in my life. Shri.V.V. Giri was the President of India while I was with the ‘Fifth Army’ in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. While I was a kid, I had travelled to Madras from Rajahmundry by the famous Howrah-Madras Mail. I was traveling alone without my other brothers. My mother had come to the railway station in Rajahmundry to see me off. She was very concerned about my safety during that train journey. She had discovered the daughter of Shri. V. V. Giri who was in the train and was traveling to Madras. My mother had handed over me to the care of Shri.V.V. Giri’s daughter who had promised my mother that she would keep me safe during my train journey. My mother was concerned about my safety. Her concern was answered and she found Shri.V.V. Giri’s daughter. We do not have the ability to bestow ‘KRUPA’. We could only respond to its Energy and act in obedience to its Power. During the course of Fifth Army’s Operation in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, I did not ask President V. V. Giri to keep me safe and I had never tried to seek a posting at a ‘peace establishment’ and never made an attempt to avoid my posting to Units deployed in Field. During the military operations in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, I had personally witnessed the uplifting Power of a Higher Force. The Force of Krupa had enabled me to perform a remarkable and memorable journey through enemy territory. It was not my physical ability or intelligence that had protected me and defended me. I took care of the battle wounded soldiers by acting obediently and allowing myself to be fully controlled by the Power of Krupa. It is the Power that can change human behavior and actions. Krupa is the Energy that can transform human life. Krupa is the Force that can change the direction of our physical movement upon planet Earth. Krupa empowers human mind and propels our life’s journey in a new direction. Human existence is the manifestation of the Force of Krupa. We exist simply because of that Mercy, Compassion, and Grace of that Ultimate Reality which bestows Krupa. I want people to recognize this External Force and seek the benefits of its Power and Energy to defend their own existence.
Muukam karoti vachaalam, panghum langha ya te girim,
Yat Krupaa ta Maham, Vande Paramaananda Maadhavam.
Dr. R. R. Narasimham/R. Rudra Narasimham, B.Sc., M.B.B.S.,
Service Number: MS-8466, Rank: LIEUTENANT/CAPTAIN, Branch: Army Medical Corps/Short Service Regular Commission.
Designation:Medical Officer, Unit: South Column, Operation Eagle(1971)
Headquarters Establishment No. 22 C/O 56 A.P.O., Organization: Special Frontier Force.
1. Place of Birth : MYLAPORE, Madras City, Chenna Patnam, Chennai, Madras State, Tamil Nadu, India. Born Hindu( Brahmin-Niyogi-Smartha), Telugu-Speaking.
2. Date and Place of Marriage : 29 January, 1973. Congregational Town Church, Cuddapah, Kadapa District, Andhra Pradesh, India.
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