Sunday, July 21, 2013

WARS & VICTORIES -71 & Kargil: Different Era,Same Result. And TOI brought the wars to the living room

 It is ironic that one of the biggest wars India ever fought was also the shortest.The 1971 war lasted just 13 days and led to the creation of a new country and a humiliating surrender for Pakistan.


With the turmoil in the then East Pakistan,the war was waiting to happen and when it began,it was with a bang from the air.In TOI,a three-deck,eight-column headline screamed: Pak planes bomb many airfields,Indian forces ordered to hit back,State of Emergency declared. What was to follow was carnage.The December 3 report said,Pakistani aircraft struck just before six this evening at Amritsar,Pathankot,Srinagar,Avantgipur and Uttarlai (in Barmer) airfields,thus opening hostilities with India... The Government of India has responded with a declaration of Emergency and an order to the armed forces to hit back hard.

On December 5,IAF bombed Karachi.TOI reported,Indian Air Force planes bombed Karachi today in a raid that lasted more than half an hour. Later,the sinking of Pakistani submarine Ghazi came as a blow to Pakistan navy.Vice-Admiral N Krishna Flag Officer C-in-C Eastern Naval Command, announced here today that Pakistani submarine Ghazi was sunk on the intervening night of December 3 and 4...

As the Indian Army made rapid inroads into East Pakistan,TOI frontpaged a story headlined,More towns fall on the way to Dacca.The Calcutta dateline story by TOIs S Dharmarajan said,Liberation forces of the Indian Army,in their multi-pronged thrust towards Dacca,had by evening cleared the area east of the Meghna of the enemy and also blasted their way into Hilli,Mymensingh and the garrison town of Jamalpur.

A story on the same page said,Gunner bags five tanks.Gunner Naik Narbahadur Chhetri alone accounted for five of the six Pakistani T-59 tanks destroyed in Chhamb-Jaurian sector. The mood and gains of the war were reflected in some of the banner headlines in TOI.One headline said, Pak air power decimated while another said,Our troops on outskirts of Lahore. All of this culminated with the abdication of the regime in East Pakistan.Yahyas puppet regime in Dacca abdicates,screamed the TOI headline on December 15.Of course India had recognized Bangladesh on December 7 itself,the headline spelling Bangla and Desh as two words.

The war ended on December 16 and the official surrender document was signed the next day.


Twenty eight years later,Pakistan was at it again.TOI frontpaged a story headlined,Kargil intruders are Pak soldiers,declares army.The lead story on the same page was then PM Atal Bihari Vajpayees warning to Pakistan: Retreat or be kicked out,PM warns Pakistan.The report on the intrusion said,In a dramatic announcement,the Indian army on Monday identified the armed intruders in Kashmir as mainly Pakistani army regulars supported by a sprinkling of hired Mujahideen...

The Kargil war also witnessed some incidents of torture and mutilation of Indian soldiers,leading to national outrage.A TOI report dated June 11,said: A tale of barbarism by the Pakistani army was unfolded in the Kargil sector on Wednesday with the handing over of the bodies of six Indian soldiers in a disfigured and mutilated condition,some of them without even their vital parts.

One major victory for India was the taking of Tiger Hill,Pakistans most significant position.Indian Tricolour flies again at Tiger Hill,TOI said.Two months later,it was all over.Pakistan had begun withdrawing its troops,chastened by the world and delivered a tough message by India for its misadventure in Kargil.It was a resounding victory.


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