1971, Battle at Longewala
A cricket match between India and Pakistan is no less than a war….emotions run high with people on either side praying for victory of their teams, betting high stakes or promising lavish parties post a win. The players are under huge pressure to play well because a defeat causes so much of heartbreak and depression that people burn effigies of the players, smash their televisions and in extreme cases commit suicide!!
India won by 76 runs, its first match against Pakistan in the ICC World Cup series at Australia…..people rejoiced as if a real war was won!!
Seeds of antagonism between two major communities, Hindus and Muslims, were sowed many years ago. The British fanned the flames burning the two religions, driving them away from each other to the extent that the huge country was finally divided in 1947 into India and Pakistan. Kashmir was annexed to India at the behest of King Harisingh, the then ruler of Kashmir. Pakistan and India have since been at loggerheads over the territory and gone on war thrice in 1965, 1971 and 1999.
Beyond the fence lies Pakistan, the archenemies of India.
While visiting Longewala, we had the privilege of observing the braveheart defense personnel at work. They keep vigil on the border every minute all the year round to protect the nation from terrorists and Pakistani army. These men in uniform have always believed :
“Ask not what the nation does for you, ask what you can do for your nation”
So be it harsh scorching temperatures or freezing cold, scarcity of water and years of separation from families…..they stay put thwarting the advances of enemy.
Longewala War, 1971:
Pakistani airforce made pre-emptive strikes on Indian territory on 3rd December,1971. They planned to cross over through Longewala and capture Jaisalmer eventually.
Pakistanis dug up the border post and advanced 17 km inside the indian territory unawares of the 23 Punjab company of army stationed in Longewala. Pakistanis attacked with two columns of armored tanks.
Indian Army unit though outnumbered engaged the enemy and held them at bay all night. Early morning the Indian Air Force struck the enemy with hunter aircrafts.
The enemy had not anticipated an air attack and neither did they take in account the difficult desert terrain. The fierce ground and air retaliation by Indian forces made the enemy lose their nerve and they retreated abandoning their as many as 34 tanks and other armored vehicles.
The enemy however took with them the post pillar in their territory. Few days later, on 9th December the Kumaon regiment attacked the Pakistani post and retrieved the pillar of ‘border post 638’ and installed it on its rightful place.
The army and airforce worked in tandem to defend the nation’s territory and defeated the evil designs of Pakistanis with the enemy side having many casualties and heavy losses. A plaque at the Longewala post describes the emotional value of the war:
This battle is one unique event in the military history of India. The nation on its part honored the brave men with high decorations.
We on our part should respect the sacrifices of the defense personnel and thank them for all our peaceful nights, freedom and carefree days. I salute our brave.
JAI HIND!! (Praise and Victory to India)