In India’s history, Punjab has always been a gateway to the Indian mainland for foreign invasion from the North-West. It has been traversed by the armies of Greeks, Sakas, Huns, the Afghans and Mughals and thereby turning its rich plains into a recurring battle ground. The deadliest battles of the sub-continent have been fought here, smearing the soil of Punjab with the blood of the defending Indians and of invaders alike. Sliced into two halves as a result of the partition of India, Punjab was again a decisive battleground during war of 1965.
Originating in the Himalayan, five major rivers flow through the Punjab. The Ravi and the Sutlej run along the Indo-Pak border; the Beas, Jhelum and Chenab meander in the respective hinterlands of India and Pakistan. Beside the above rivers, a number of canals and their distributaries cut across the land. Of these, the Ichhogil Canal, about 8 km from the border, was converted by Pakistan into a strong military obstacle. On our side, Beas River was a major obstacle to thwart any large scale offensive by the Pakistan, if such mis-adventure was undertaken by them.
As dictated by our pious duty to defend our sacred land of Punjab and also to counter the Pakistan offensive in Chhamb (J&K), 11 Corps, the defender of Punjab crossed the International Border on 06 September 1965. This war continued till 22/23 Sep 1965 when the ceasefire took place. Pakistan launched its offensive with his strongest Armd Div of Pattan tanks and an infantry Division in Khemkaran Sector to overrun the complete Punjab west of Beas. An audacious plan it was indeed. It spoke of the over confidence of Pakistan military Commanders with their mind clouded by Indo – Chinese conflict of 1962. The Pakistan paid heavily for that misjudgment in the battles that followed. Its pride, the Armoured division of Pattan tanks was decimated.
The Vajra Corps adequately trained and prepared for operations by its GOC, Lt Gen JS Dhillon took our offensive to the door steps of Lahore. This oldest Corps of the Indian Army attained glory by humbling the pride of Pakistan armd division of Patton tanks, by decimating it around Khemkaran at famous Battle of Asal Uttar. One Param Vir Chakra, eleven Maha Vir Chakra and forty three Vir Chakra adorned the Corps at the end of its tryst with destiny.
What came out as clearly established was not just the military skill and astute leadership of the armed forces but equally the amazing spirit and tenacity of Punjabis of all walks of life who rallied around the soldiers and literally put their ‘shoulders to the wheel’ to assist the soldiers in their battles with the Pakistan.
No doubt we were far ahead when cessation of hostilities took place. This does call for celebration but more, importantly, for commemoration of the deathless bravery of the Indian Armed Forces and the sacrifices they made. The uniformed fraternity salutes the citizens of India for whose freedom the soldiers works at all times and in all weather. This is an attitude that calls for commemoration.
As a tribute to our war heroes, we shall bring out act of valour and unprecedented gallantry of our heroes in subsequent edition of our news paper.