March 01, 2008

That first casualty

Truth is the first casualty in wars. Heard that before? Well, there was a Battle of Laungewala during the 1971 India-Pakistan war. A Major KS Chandpuri led 100 Indian soldiers in defeating a Pakistani brigade of 2800 men with 45 tanks. His men won several gallantry awards for this.

Now another man who won a gallantry award at Laungewala claims that at Laungewala, there was "no ground battle" and that the army "merely rehearsed it on a sand model ... to cover up the incompetence of senior military commanders." This is Atma Singh, then commander of an "Air Observation Post" at the time. He says it was the air force that won the battle.

Not surprisingly, Chandpuri backs his troops. The Air Force, he says, "hardly faced any opposition."

Even given the well-known animosity between the services in militaries worldwide, this is extraordinary. Here's a dispute about whether an entire ground battle ever happened at all, a battle for which awards were handed out. Here's an accusation that it was just "faked". Truth the first casualty indeed: in this case, will it ever be found?

1 comment:

Sidhusaaheb said...

Major General Ian Cardozo (retd), who has authored several books on military history, said,... "...The fact is that the air force saved the day. But the army deserves credit for standing fast and holding the line despite overwhelming enemy forces."