Gen Cariappa or being Gen Bipin Rawat : You have to Choose whom you want to be

By -
I first met Cariappa on August 14, 1947 at a farewell party given by Indian officers to departing British and Pakistan officers. Cariappa was the chief host and among the guests were Lord Mountbatten and Field Marshal Auchinleck.

In his speech he gave fulsome praise to British officers for building our wonderful Army.

He was sentimental about officers going to Pakistan, saying, "We have shared a common destiny for so long that our history is inseparable. We have been brothers. We shall always remain brothers".

A silver trophy showing a Hindu and a Muslim soldier holding their rifles pointing towards a common foe was presented to Brigadier Raza, the senior officer going to Pakistan. What an irony. In less than three months Indian and Pakistan soldiers were shooting at each other on the battlefields of Kashmir.

On August 15, 1947 Cariappa was promoted to major-general and became the first Indian general officer. On January 20, 1948, he took over as Western Army Commander in the rank of lieutenant-general – again the first Indian officer to hold that high rank.

I was a major at that headquarters as General Staff Officer, Operations. We were conducting operations in Kashmir and I had to brief him in the Operations Room about the operational situation in Jammu and Kashmir. He complimented me on my briefing and enquired about the most threatened place in the state.
I replied that there were reports of heavy enemy build-up against Naushera and a major attack appeared imminent. 

He said he would like to go there the next day and I accompanied him to Naushera. He went round the defences and then told Brigadier Usman that Kot feature overlooked our defences and must be secured.

Two days later Usman mounted a successful attack against that feature. He named it Operation Kipper – the general's nickname. 

A week later, thousands of irregulars attacked Naushera. With Kot held by us, our troops inflicted a crushing defeat on the enemy who retreated leaving hundreds dead. 

This was the biggest battle of the Kashmir war. Usman became a national hero.

Cariappa would spend some 10 days every month going around in Kashmir and I invariably accompanied him as his staff officer. 

I recall two instances of his personal courage. We were travelling in a jeep to Uri. The brigade commander suggested that the flag and star plate on the car be removed as the area near Hemen Buniyar was under enemy observation and prone to sniping. 

Cariappa refused and said he wanted to test the accuracy of the enemy.

On another occasion, Cariappa stood on a hilltop near Tithwal surveying enemy positions. The local commander told him that the enemy could observe us and we should view the area from inside a bunker. 

He ignored this advice buts we started coming down the hill, an enemy shell landed where we had been standing.

Cariappa was a few years older than my father and I marvelled at his unending energy. I did not find it easy to keep pace with him.

He was a staff officer's nightmare. No detail, no matter how small, escaped his sharp eye. I had to keep jotting down numerous points and prepare tour notes.

One day, as we returned from tour, we saw his two kids coming out of his staff car. They had missed the school bus and the ADC had sent the staff car to fetch them. Cariappa was furious at this misuse of government transport. He directed me to initiate disciplinary action against his ADC.

Next morning he sent for me and enquired what action I had taken. I told him that I had admonished him and he had assured me that he would not make that mistake again. 

He enquired, "What about the loss of petrol to the government?" I replied that we were depositing Rs 40 in the Treasury, at the prescribed rate for the eight miles for which the staff car had been used. He said the amount should be debited to his personal account.
In addition to his the high standards of personal integrity, 

Cariappa was a strict disciplinarian. He summarily sacked three serving major -generals, one for being drunk at a function in Raj Bhavan, Mumbai, one for being unduly familiar with a junior officer's wife and the third for misuse of regimental funds.

The Army needs to recall and follow the high standards of honesty and integrity set by Cariappa.

PS Gen Sinha evidently forgot to mention two famous memories re the FM –
First. The Hindi of the aristocratic Coorgi was 'atrocious' – and that is putting it mildly! For example when India became Independent, the future FM addressed his troops thus, "AB HUM MUFT … AB AAP MUFT … AB HAMARA DESH MUFT".

Second. After the 1965 War Pakistani President Ayub Khan contacted him and offered to repatriate the Old Man's son, who was an IAF Officer and a POW. 

Then Gen Cariappa's response, "If you repatriate him then you will have to repatriate all Indian PsOW – – for they too are my Sons".

Post a Comment


Post a Comment (0)