About Guns, Victory and Gallantry Awards – Bangladesh Ops of 1971. The US President Richard Nixon and the Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Washington DC, November 04, 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:
Establishment No. 22 Company Commanders were among the first recipients of the gallantry awards granted during the 1971 India-Pakistan War.
Indian Air Force Officer Parvez Rustom 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 the 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 3rd. 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 India-Pakistan 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 approved our military Operation in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. In the conduct of this War, we faced a very critical moment in providing airlift to the battlefield casualties. The dispatch of a helicopter into the enemy airspace in the absence of an official war needed her personal intervention and a decision that the Prime Minister alone could make. I rendered my services and had overcome the challenge posed by that critical situation when we could not provide the airlift to the battle casualties. 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 inside enemy’s territory without any concern for my personal safety.
This War is memorable to me for several reasons. 1. I proceeded to take part in offensive, combat operations 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 received appreciation from the enemy soldiers that we had captured.
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 commenced in November 1971. 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 individually greeted all the members of my team and 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.
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 checked and asked for an ‘SMG’, the service authorized personal weapon 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 the Company Commanders told me that they love the M-14 Rifle better than the light and compact SMG. I accepted the M-14 Rifle despite its heavy weight and bulky ammunition. I was not yet attached to the Battalion (South Column) 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. I 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 the M-14 Assault Rifle,and its bulky ammunition. 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 Lieutenant Colonel 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 announced that the Adjutant would defend the doctor for the entire duration of the operation. Captain Kottayam Chacko Kurien, an Officer of Jewish faith accepted this additional responsibility with great seriousness and he 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 authored a book titled ‘The Phantoms of Chittagong: The Fifth Army in Bangladesh’. He narrated the military exploits of his Force while operating in the difficult terrain of the Chittagong Hill Tracts during the India-Pakistan War of 1971. He did not discuss the role of the 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. CAPTAIN AMC/SSC
Medical Officer South Column Operation Eagle 1971
Headquarters Establishment No. 22 C/O 56 APO