A30 tHe 1965 WAr, 50 YeArs ON India Abroad September 25, 2015
On the morning of 1 September 1965, the nation woke up to a startling announcement on All India Radio.
‘Pakistan has launched a massive attack with
tanks and heavy artillery in the Chamb sector
of Jammu and Kashmir. The enemy’s objective
seems to be the strategic Akhnoor Bridge.
Prime Minister lal Bahadur Shastri has
declared that Pakistan will be given a fitting
reply by the Indian Army,’ it said.
The prime minister’s statement was later
6 september 1965
described by lieutenant General Harbaksh
Singh (retd), VrC, then the General Officer
Commanding-in-Chief (GOC-in-C), Western
Command, as ‘the tallest of decisions taken by
one of the shortest of men.’
It is a warm September afternoon when the
Grenadiers reach Dibbipura, one of the last
towns on the Indo-Pak border.
lush sugar cane fields interspersed with
ripening cotton stretch for miles around them.
Where the International Border separates
India from Pakistan, however, the land is barren. All that they can see is sarkanda or elephant grass growing wild all the way to
Ichhogil Canal that roughly marks Pakistan’s
Twenty-two-year-old lieutenant Hari Ram Janu is wading through chest-deep water, his .303 rifle held above his
head as he trudges through the sarkanda that lashes his
slush caked body.
Around him are 600 soldiers of his battalion, each at a
distance of about 5.5 metres from the other, each holding
his weapon high, ensuring that the water does not touch
the ammunition packs strapped to their bodies.
Artillery shells whistle past, quickening their heartbeat
and triggering a buzz in their ears; above their heads,
enemy bullets fly relentlessly. Pakistani soldiers have spotted them from the other side of Ichhogil and opened the
gates of the canal, flooding the area completely.
Undeterred by the water soaking them to the bone, and
ignoring the bullets, the men trudge on. The unit has been
tasked to cross the International Border and capture the
strategically located Theh Pannu Bridge on Ichhogil Canal.
Amongst the soldiers is CQMH (Company Quarter
Master Havildar) Abdul Hamid who will bring laurels to
the unit a few days later, but as of now he is just one of the
many brave soldiers who are stoically putting their lives at
risk to teach Pakistan a lesson it will not forget.
The soldiers walk 4 km in their wet uniforms to reach
Dibbipura where they halt for food. They then walk another 7 km to reach Chima village, the area they are to defend.
Darkness is falling when the tired and sleep-deprived
men start digging trenches and covering them with sugar-
cane stalks plucked from the fields so that they are not vis-
ible to enemy planes.
It has been three days since they have changed their
clothes, and the stink and grime of the water through
which they have trudged cling to their sunburned and
They spend another anxious night in their shallow
trenches, flitting in and out of sleep. News is rife that
‘News is rife that Pakistan will attack the next day.
They have no idea that this is where they will take on the might of 1 Armoured Division of Pakistan in a
three-day bloody battle that will be remembered in military history as the Battle of Asal Uttar.’
rachna Bisht rawat salutes the brave men who turned the tide of the 1965 War.
a captured Pakistani Patton tank in what was one the biggest tank battles in military history.