India is Rattled

As a result of Indian offensive in Kashmir, the President of Pakistan in consultation with C-in-C, Pakistan Army, decided to undertake offensive operations and to attack the enemy in Chhamb and Jurian. The Indians had prepared concrete bunkers, interlinked by covered communication trenches and planned to meet all possible eventualities. They had a top story for observation, the ground story with MMG, LMG and RR emplacements for fighting and the basement for living. It was a proper defensive line and it succeeded in creating the defensive mentality. All defenses are double edged weapons. The stronger they are the greater is the intensity of defensive attitude produced by them. The close atmosphere acts on the minds of defenders very adversely thereby creating fear and queer type demoralization which engenders the quest for freedom of movement and is only removed by coming out in the open. When such defenses are subjected to heavy shelling, the explosion and their reverberating echoes produce a near concussion effect and the men inside either wish to run away or lie down listlessly. The Indian could not know the after effects of Maginot Line type of defenses. They had never experienced them. They thought it was good for prestige to have modern defenses and they adopted them1.

The Indians had started advancing in Haji Pir Pass area and due to the few troops in that sector it was more than likely that the link up between Indians advancing from Uri and those advancing North from Punch would soon take place. The Indians had thought that they would then be in a position to push westward in a view of the area being very thinly held by AK troops.

The only way to force India to release pressure in that area was to force her to pull out substantial portion for her forces assigned for the conquest of AK areas. An attack on Chhamb-Jurian which would threaten Akhnoor nerve center of Indian Line of Communication to Punch, was the correct answer. The Indian High Command when making grandiose plans for the invasion of Pakistan did think of this weak link in their chain of defenses and that was the precise reason why they had paid extra attention to this sector and constructed seemingly impregnable concrete defenses.

The troops available to Pakistan for an attack on Chhamb were:

102 Infantry brigade
4 Azad Kashmir
Two Companies of 12 FF (R and S)
11 Cavalry
13 Lancers

In view of shortage of troops 7 Infantry Division minus 25 Infantry Brigade, 14 Para Brigade, 22 Cavalry and some other elements was moved to Gujrat area on August 30, 1965. Apart from elements of divisional troops the only formation left with 7 Infantry Division now was 10 Infantry Brigade. This was placed under command 12 Infantry Division for the initial phase. This meant that 12 Infantry Division now had three infantry brigade to attack with. It thus had the following

10 Infantry Brigade (2 Battalion Brigade): commanded by Brig. Hayat
102 Infantry Brigade (2 Battalion Brigade): Commanded by brig. Zafar Ali Khan
4 Azad Kashmir : Commanded by brig Abdul Hameed Khan
Two companies 12 FF
11 Cavalry
13 Lancers

Divisional artillery and other services.

The Indians had then in the areas 10 Indian Mountain Division, 191 Indian Independent Infantry Brigade and parts of 93 Infantry Brigade.

The task allotted to 12 Infantry Division was to destroy enemy in area Lalial, Dewa, Sakrana and Chhamb and then to threaten Akhnoor. The Divisional Commander Major General Akhtar Hussain Malik decided to undertake the task in two phases. In phase one, he decided to destroy the enemy West of Tawi in area in area Lalial, Dewa and Chhamb. The second phase was to cross Tawi and pose a threat to Akhnoor by destroying enemy in the enemy of Jurian.

One September 1, the attack went in at first light. The Corps artillery supported the attack led by 9 Punjab, 13 Punjab and 11 Cavalry less one squadron. By 1030 hours the enemy position at Phur, Dalla, Barsala, Jhanda, Malgotian, Chak Pundit and Munawwar had been rolled up. The strong fortification were of no avail to the Indian troops not used to live under artillery shells directed at them.

The enemy at Moel and Burejal felt insecure soon after the enveloping movement very nearly cut off their threat. They were, however, quick enough to realize it and managed to retreat before they were completely cut off. In the process they gave a good deal of casualties.

The enemy AMX tanks were trying desperately to stop the advance of Pakistani tanks. Which had by now swung North East of Phagla and were heading for Chhamb. Dewa was in the hands of Pakistanis by 1400 hours.

It was at 1630 hours that the Indian Air Force came to the rescue of the Indian Army2. Four of them all, Vampires, were taken on by Pakistan Air Force , and were bagged within minutes. One of the JCOs of 13 Punjab whose Platoon had been earlier strafed by the Vampires said afterwards, “I wasted time over trying to remember what a Vampire looked like. They never visited us again in this front.” A few Hunters came near last night and strafed our leading troops but did not stay long enough to give battle to Pakistan Air Force. The example of vampires was still fresh in Indians minds to venture over Pakistani troops for long.

On the left of 102 Infantry Brigade, 4 Azad Kashmir had advanced at an equally rapid speed. The brigade objective had been Dewa and Lalial. 5 AK contained Pir Jamal and a few other localities, on the right, and 19 AK put in an attack on Patrara. The position was well dug in and supported by a number of MMGs in addition to artillery. All the likely approaches had been mined intensively by the Indians. In a well conducted attack the leading company of 19 AK assaulted the position from the left flank and by 0730 hours had pushed the enemy out of Patrara. The brigade Commander, Brigadier Abdul Hameed Khan, desirous of maintaining the momentum of attack ordered the C.O. to continue the advance and roll up the rearward defenses of the enemy. Chakla and Dewa had fallen into our hands by the evening.

5 Azad Kashmir which had, earlier in the morning, contained enemy positions at Dalla, Paur, Pir Jamal and Maira, put I attack on Maira at 1100 hours. The Indians put in very little resistance and place was in Pakistan Army’s hands very soon. The incident of capture of 53 Indian other ranks of 6 Sikh Light Infantry, by Lt. Col. Babr of A.O.P deserves mention. He had seen a collection of Indians, lurking in a nullah (creek) from the air. He landed his helicopter nearby and between himself and his companion Capt. Akbar rounded up 53 Indians. They had no officer or J.C.O. with them. They had all deserted them and ran away in their command vehicles.

Moel was attacked by 5 Azad Kashmir in the after noon and was occupied by them by 1700. Mopping up operations were undertaken by the battalion in the rest of the area including Dalla and small pockets of the enemy were cleared in places where they had been bypassed by 102 Infantry Brigade and 19 AK except Pir Jamal.

Headquarters 7 Infantry Division had arrived in the area and it was felt that the command of this sector would be exercised more expeditiously if 7 Division commanded by Major General Mohammad Yahya Khan, controlled the operations. 12 Division Headquarters was too far from the area of operations and the C-in-C, General Mohammad Musa, felt that the command of operations should be exercised from the headquarters which was located closer at hand rather than the headquarters from a distance. It was inconvenient to continue controlling the battle from Tactical Headquarters for too long which had to be done until then. As a result of this decision 7 Infantry Division assumed of operations from 1100 hours on September 2.

Major General Mohammad Yahya Khan gave orders for the completion of Phase I. 102 Infantry brigade and 10 Infantry Brigade consolidated positions along river Munawwar Tawi. 102 brigade was at this stage in the North and 10 Brigade to its immediate South. 4 AK brigade further North consolidated the position captured by it on the previous day.

The position having been consolidated the GOC ordered 10 Infantry Brigade to cross Munawwar Tawi at 1730 hours on 2 September and established a brigade head across it.

The brigade head was complete by 1930 hours and both the battalions of 10 Infantry Brigade, 6 FF and 14 Punjab with 13 Lancers under command 10 Brigade crossed this formidable obstacle. It is surprising at the complete paralyzing of the enemy ground forces. The water in the river was no where less than 4 feet deep and it was a very wide stream. The going was not easy and the banks were fairly steep. The crossing was expected to be opposed by the enemy very stubbornly but it seemed Indian troops had lost all relish of opposing, the day before. Inspite of the whole day at their disposal to dig in and establish themselves across the river they had not been able to make up their mind that they would resist the crossing.

5 AK to the West, cleared Pir Jamal by 1630 hours after a very stiff and hand to hand fight. The Indians had fought stubbornly and accepted a large number of casualties before being forced to withdraw.

The next day, 3 September, the GOC Major General Yahya Khan, came forward and ordered d10 Infantry Brigade and 4 AK Brigade to resume the advance. He had held his ‘O’ Group at Singri, close to the battle area and was keen that the enemy should not be given any breathing space. The advance was resumed at 1200 hours. By 1700 hours 14 Punjab supported by a squadron of 13 Lancers had captured Nawan Hamirpur. 6 FF attack on Troti was , however held up. The position had been well prepared and strongly held.

On September 14 Punjab resumed the attack. The opposition was fairly stiff but they were able to push on to the outskirts of Jurian. In the meantime 6 FF had also cracked the Indians defenses at Troti and by 1700 hours were able to come up in line with 14 Punjab.

Heavy casualties had been inflicted on the enemy so far. A number of prisoners had been taken each day. One officer, 2 JCOs and 29 other ranks were taken prisoners, by 14 Punjab, on this day just in the vicinity of Jurian. The enemy, however, held on to Jurian during the night 4/5 September. The pressure from 10 Infantry Brigade was not relaxed at all and it had its effect.

The enemy was desperate. They had not so far put in any serious counter-attack but it appeared that what they did not like doing during the day they were persuaded to undertake under the cloak of darkness. They put in two counter-attacks against 14 Punjab position. Apart from other casualties they left behind 31 prisoners. The large number of prisoners of war that the Indians gave in such a short time and later on as well has remained a mystery to Pakistani Commander.

The attack on Jurian was resumed early next morning (5 September). 10 Infantry Brigade put in an attack at 0700 hours and it fell like a ripened plum. The fall of Jurian was a big event and it shook the Indian High Command. They had admitted the successful advance of Pakistani troops but rather belatedly.

On 2 September when it was over 24 hours at Chhamb had fallen, All India radio had merely said, “The Indian Air Force planes have gone into action in Chhamb Sector of Kashmir where Pakistan had launched an offensive across the Cease-Fire Line…… Pakistan artillery started shelling of our positions in Chhamb Sector early yesterday morning…..” Later in the evening, to be exact at 1915 hours on 2 September, India admitted that Pakistan had advanced 7 miles into Indian held Kashmir. It is worth noting that she categorically admitted the advance to have been across the CFL at this junction.

On 3 September All Indian Radio gave an inkling of what India had in mind. It said, “The Prime Minister told newsmen in New Delhi this morning after his meeting with the opposition leaders that the whole strategy in regard to Kashmir will have to be reviewed and considered in a much wider context.”

Chavan, the Defence Minister of India, said in the Lok Sabha on the same day, “We will have to take an overall review of our defenses. Our troops are fighting bravely and confidently. Necessary counter measures have been initiated.”

The Indian Prime Minister made another significant statement the next day. He said, “It is possible that the government may not like to disclose certain things immediately.” On 4 September the Indian Prime Minister was even more angry at Pakistan when he said, “The Grand March of the Indian troops will not halt so long as Pakistan does not provide a concrete and trustworthy guarantee of its good conduct.” The last sentence is symbolic of Indian mentality. The grand march of Indian troops across Kutch, on posts in Kargil, against Pir Sahaba and Haji Pir Pass, in his mind, did not constitute breaches of Cease Fire Agreement but, when Pakistan paid back in the same coin at Chhamb and Jurian it hurt and the whole strategy had to be changed and the question of defense of India needed re-examination. The reality was different. India had known all along what her objectives were. As mentioned earlier, even if Pakistan had not attacked Jurian, there would still have been some excuse to march across international border. This hurt expression was merely for the consumption of the world which had not yet seen the blood thirsty Kali Devi under the mask of Pandit Nehru’s Panch Sheela and Gandhian non-violence. Prime Minister who perpetually threaten their neighbors with “The Grand March” of their armies should not be the first to accept cease fire “here and now”, which were the words used by Mr. Chhagla at the Security Council later during Cease Fire discussion. When their plans have miscarried, and they start massive armament programs the moment their desire of immediate cease fire has materialized. But these are Chanakiyan ways and one cannot accuse them of inconsistency because they are consistently inconsistent.

Indian AMX tanks being used against the Indians in Jurian Sector

The President of India, Mr. Radha Krishnan, the philosopher, joined the chorus on 5 September and threatened Pakistan, when he declared, “it is the final battle that decided the fate of things.” On the same day Mr. Shastri informed the world of his proposed invasion of Pakistan when he said, ” We do not want that Pakistan should first cross into our territory and than sue for peace.” In fact his announcement meant that his army was poised to cross the international border into Pakistan.

On the same day Pakistani forces under Major General Yahya Khan headed forward towards Akhnoor, having mopped up all opposition in and around Jurian and in the villages of Thindi Wali Khad and Mawa Wali Khad. 13 Punjab had now moved forward as the vanguard. Due to hilly terrain, the movement was slow. The enemy was putting up s half hearted opposition inspite of the fact that the terrain was more suited for defense. 13 Punjab completely surprised the enemy through difficult terrain and captured Chak Karpal and Dalpat villages.

On 6 September, while India was advancing across the International border, 7 Infantry Division was poised to continue its move forward to Akhnoor and finalized the operations in this sector. 102 and 10 Infantry Brigades consolidated their positions along the line of Jamotian and Maira villages. The division, on this day, lost most its artillery support and 11 Cavalry.

On the other hand the enemy has received reinforcements and had launched a massive counter-attack with strong armour and artillery support against 10 Infantry Brigade positions. The division had just received congratulatory messages from the President of Pakistan, Field Marshal Mohammad Ayub Khan and the C-in-C, Pakistan Army General Mohammad Musa, and the men were in the right mood to give a good reception to the Indian counter attack. The result was nothing less than whole sale slaughter. The counter attack came to a standstill by the early afternoon and the Indian withdrew to their original positions leaving behind over 500 dead bodies. The enemy had to bring in air support to extricate their forward elements. Pakistani casualties due to their counter attack were one officer Major Sarwar and six other ranks killed.

On 7 September the enemy put in fresh counter attack supported by armour against 13 Punjab and against positions held by 102 Infantry Brigade. Both counter attacks were beaten back with heavy losses to the enemy. 10 Infantry Brigade was ordered to be ready to move out of the area leaving behind only 102 Brigade and 4 AK Brigade. Although the idea to advance as far as Akhnoor had been dropped, the move forward and offensive attitude had not been given up by the GOC. The result was that when the enemy counter attacks failed, the Indians withdrew in a hurry.

During the night 7/8 September, the enemy again tried infiltration tactics but failed and had to withdraw leaving behind a number of dead and 1 officer, Capt. Chingara, 1 JCO and 20 other ranks prisoners of war, all that remained of a whole company of 120 strong. A heavy price to pay for the whims of some misguided senior officer.

This move forward after beating the India counter attack enabled our own guns to move forward and shell Akhnoor which created a great deal of panic among Indian L of C troops who were reported to have deserted from Akhnoor in large numbers.

The enemy tried hard to infiltrate through the gap between the two brigades but was unsuccessful and in fact suffered heavy casualties in the process.

The next morning, 8 September, 6 Infantry Brigade commanded by Brig. Iftikhar Khan Janjua H. J. was brought in and 10 Infantry Brigade moved out of the area. Enemy again tried to benefit from the gap between the two brigades and attacked from the area Pulhwal which lay between the two brigades. It was a sound idea executed in a haphazard manner and the result was that as on previous occasions it served as a killing ground. The Indians were hemmed in and wholesale massacre took place forcing them to give up the attack when it had hardly gone half way.

On 9 September the GOC decided that enough use had been made of this gap and ordered that it should be closed. 8 Baluch was ordered by brig. Zafar Ali Khan, Commander 102 Infantry Brigade to capture Pulhwal.

The Battalion, commanded by Lt. Col. Muhammad Siddiqui Kha, went into attack with great dash and moving forward with determination threw the enemy out of Pulhwal inflicting a number of casualties on the retreating Indians. The GOC 10 Infantry Division was furious at the way fighting had been progressing and ordered 191 Independent Indian Infantry brigade to put in a full scale brigade attack and recapture Pulhwal.

The Indian attack on a two battalion front came in a little before first light and was directed against positions held by 8 Baluch and 15 Punjab. Pakistan artillery alone was able to break up this attack. The Indians never reached near enough for Pakistani infantrymen to come to grips with the Indians. A few of the Indians who had not retreated and who preferred the safety of POW camps stood up after day break, raising their hands and waiving white handkerchiefs and were taken prisoners.

Akhnoor brigade was shelled by Pakistan artillery during the day causing great confusion in the L of C troops and the Indian garrison as a result had to more back a considerable distance to be out of artillery range. The enemy’s habit of piecemeal attack was repeated on 11 September as well. A number of probing attacks were made by the Indians along the front but in each place they were beaten back with considerable casualties.

On 12 September, 6 Punjab with a company of 15 Punjab attacked and captured Devi Pur, thus extending their F.D.Ls. This brought in a a quick counter attack by the enemy after dark. They tried their best to recapture the lost territory but were beaten back with heavy casualties.

To the left of this position a company of 9 Punjab attacked Manami and captured not only the village but a dominating feature in the vicinity. 14 AK kept up pressure against the enemy in the area of village Ghauri while these attacks were being launched.

We lost 2 officers, 2 JCO and 10 other ranks on this day and 1 JCO and 36 other ranks were wounded but the operation had not only extended our F.D.Ls. but had taken a heavy toll of the enemy.

Night attacks are a normal feature of war and no critic can accuse the Indian Commanders of cowardice, for having a bias in favor of night attacks. The analysis made by Indian Command after the war appears to have further strengthened the Indian preferences for night attacks. Their Arguments are sound up to a point. Infiltration is easier at night and casualties are comparatively less due to the defenders’ inability to bring down aimed fire, but when the defending troops do not fall back inspite of infiltration, and have adequate resources to deal with the infiltrators the resulting casualties are far more than in the case of day light attacks.

Enemy build up continued on 13 and 14 September. The only activity on the front by the enemy, however, was heavy shelling of our positions. On 15 September the enemy tried to capture a feature from 15 Punjab but were thrown back. Our fighting patrols destroyed a few of the enemy bunkers and brought back useful information. No large scale operation was undertaken by either side. On 16 and 17 September also the enemy confined his activities to heavy shelling. Due to heavy build up in the North of our position a certain amount of reallocation of troops and areas were undertaken by the GOC, within the divisional area.

On 18 September minor clashes occurred in which each side succeeded in getting a feature from the other. This was the first and only time an enemy battalion attack had managed to snatch a feature from one of our companies in this sector. On 19 September the Indians launched a major dawn attack on 9 Punjab front. The attack was repulsed with considerable number of casualties to the enemy. Enemy Hunters tried to strafe our forward position but seemed to be in a hurry to depart and did not cause any damage.

Until the cease fire there was no further major activity on the part of the Indians. They, however, became very active immediately after the cease fire and kept on putting in attack after attack and losing men without any sense or purpose until 3rd of December, 1965. Such reckless use of Indian manpower and material was not unique to this front. In was universal. On every front where the Indians had lost territory to Pakistan, and either the forward formations had not reported to the Army headquarters or the government of India had kept it secret from the press and the public, they were keen, in fact desperate to recapture the lost territories. Now that both the press and public were likely to know the exact state of affairs, the Indian Commanders were prepared to lose valuable Indian lives merely to save face. Queer philosophy but there it is.