References & Notes

  1. Khukri (also spelt as kukri). Gorkhas prefer to use long curved knives called khukris in close combat. The sight of a khukri in the upraised hand of a charging Gorkha is known to have caused panic in the heart of the defender almost twice the size of a khukri-wielding Gorkha
  2. ‘Chakravyuh’. This is a military term (there is no English equivalent) taken from the great Indian epic – the Mahabharata. In that war, Abhimanyu, son of Arjuna, successfully penetrated the supposedly invincible military formation of Chakravyuh adopted by the Kauravas. A mythological story goes that Abhimanyu learnt the technique of penetrating the Chakravyuh while he was still in the womb of his mother – Subhadra – when Krishna was explaining it to her; he however didn’t know how to come out of it as Krishna had not then explained that to her
  3. Shakkarparas are prepared in unit cook-house as a ready to eat meal. Balls of unleavened dough are deep fried and distributed to the soldiers. These are either sweet or have a dash of salt. Shakkarparas are carried in haversack and munched by soldiers when on the move or when there is a lull in the battle
  4. MVC (Mahavir Chakra) is the second highest gallantry award of the Indian Army. Vr C (Vir Chakra) and SM (Sena Medal) are also gallantry awards
  5. Lt Shaharawat, a gallant young officer who was my Intelligence Officer, was wounded while assaulting the ‘Factory Gate’ in the final assault
  6. Maj Gen (retd) Fazal Muqueem Khan (a Pakistani author) writes in his book ‘Pakistan’s Crisis in Leadership’ (page 180), “After the fall of Shamshernagar, Sylhet had come under heavy pressure from the north and the east. On Dec 7, 202 adhoc Brigade in Sylhet was reinforced by 313 brigade which had operated in Shamshernagar area”
  7. Maj Karan Puri was my able adjutant. A professionally competent Regimental Officer who was trusted and loved by all ranks was of valuable asset to me in Assault on Atgram, Gazipur and in Sylhet operations. He was seriously wounded while landing in Sylhet and had to be evaluated to the Command Hospital, Lucknow where he breathed his last. Till the last day he kept enquiring from his parents and friends about the Battalion’s actions and welfare
  8. Lt Gen JFR Jacob in his recently published book ‘Surrender at Dacca – Birth of a nation’ writes “On 7 Dec 4/5 Gorkha Rifles of 59 Mountain Brigade had been lifted by helicopters to the south-east of Sylhet across the Surma River. The Pakistanis had evaluated the civilian population from Sylhet and fortified the town. The defences were held by 202 Infantry Brigade from Maulavi Bazar to Sylhet had not been anticipated by us at the Command Headquarters and came as a surprise. We had expected this brigade would fall back to the Coronation Bridge on the Meghna for the defence of Meghna crossing and Dacca. Had they done so, IV Corps’ progress across the Meghna would have been very difficult. When we got the radio intercepts confirming their move to Sylhet, we were very relieved. It meant for all practical purposes, that two infantry brigades were out on a limb at Sylhet where they could be contained and their effectiveness neutralized. After the war, whilst interrogating the GOC of the Division, Maj-Gen Abdul Quazi, I asked him why he had moved this brigade to Sylhet. He replied that he was determined that he would not let us capture Sylhet. Niazi’s fortress strategy and Divisional Commander’s
  9. The Battalion received ‘Sylhet’ as the Battle Honour and ‘East Pakistan, 1971’ as a Theatre Honour
  10. In the 1971 war (Atgram, Gazipur and Sylhet) our battalion received two Maha Vir Chakras (out of three in the entire 8 Mountain Division), three Vir Chakras and three Sena Medals
  11. After the 1971 war, the Heliborne operation carried out by our battalion was being taught on the Senior Commanders’ Course
Our total casualties (killed and wounded during the war (21 Nov, ’71 to 17 Dec,’71) in Atgram, Gazipur and Sylhet were 11 officers, 5 JCOs, and 139 other ranks (Total 155)