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Discussion in 'Military History' started by NS52, Oct 26, 2018.

  1. NS52


    Jan 7, 2017
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    Co Dr Narendar Singh, Ph D

    Published in Free Press, Indore December 5, 1977 Vol XV, No. 150

    December 5, 1971 is a red-letter day in the History of Indian Army. On this day, the 3rd Battalion the Rajputana Rifles, forming part of 12 Infantry Division, fought against hundreds of Pakistanis and captured Islamgarh without the support of any other resource in terms of artillery, armour etc.


    The Battle of Islamgarh is worth mentioning as a singular example of unmatched courage, absolute devotion to duty and unbinding loyalty for a cause.

    Islamgarh is in Bahawalpur District of Punjab (Pakistan). On December 3, the Indo-Pak war commenced. It was during this war that Bangladesh was born, and Dutt drew the inspiration to immortalize the Battle of Longewala in his film ‘Border’. However, he missed another great battle fought just 30 kilometres to the North in the hostile rugged Thar Desert.

    Islamgarh was one of the forts constructed to protect the lines of communication prior to Independence and maintain security in the area. It leads to Rahimyarkhan in the North and Jaisalmer in India. Pakistan Army in 1971 held the fort and dunes surrounding it. The position was well fortified and entrenched with extensive minefields around it. Islamgarh was considered to be the most important to be the most important of the defensive positions or the hub as it dominated all lines of communication to Rahim Yar Khan.

    On the evening of 3rd December 1971, the 3rd Battalion The Rajputana Rifles was deployed at Kishengarh in the Rajasthan Sector. The Battalion was assigned the task of capturing Islamgarh by 6 a.m on December 5, 1971. After capturing Islamgarh the Battalion was to advance on axis Islamgarh- Bai Khan Wala Khu (Sind, West Pakisttan), and provide flank protection to 12 Infantry Division.

    Islamgarh was 16 kilometers from the international border and to accomplish the task the battalion had to advance thirty (30) kilometres in one night thereafter attack and capture Islamgarh.


    The operational information of the enemy was scanty and there was no time to gain any additional information. The Battalion commenced its advance at 1730h on 4th December 1971. Soon the Battalion was without artillery support as the guns were unable to move on the sandy tract. Soon the tanks also left the Battalion as they were not able to traverse the sandy tracts.

    It was also the night when Pakistan launched its offensive in the Longewala Sector. The offensive of 12 Infantry Division was thus stalled and the resources were diverted to defeat the Pakistani offensive. 3rd Battalion, The Rajputana Rifles continued its advance oblivious of the happenings around it.

    Lt Col MMK Baqaya, Commanding Office, with his reconnaissance party was temporarily separated from the main column of the Battalion.

    At 0300h, Second Lieutenant Ajit Kamal returned with his patrol without any Information about the and its location. The advance was resumed. It was bright moonlit night. The Battalion had hardly moved some distance when Pakistanis opened fire. The fire was effective.

    The Artillery officer was asked by Major Ram Chandra, Second-in-Command to bring artillery fire. The Artillery officer informed major ram Chandra that there will be no artillery fire as they were out of the range of the guns. The enormity of the situation Dawned on the Battalion then. The Battalion with out any further delay or taking any formations taught in schools for FUP etc, the Battalion just attacked in the direction of fire.

    The climb was steep as the dunes were high. The size of the garrison in Islamgarh was two company supported by automatics and artillery. The attack of the Battalion was followed by pitched battle which lasted over an hour.

    3rd Battalion The Rajputana Rifles captured Islamgarh in the early hours on 5th December 1971. This one action brought more West Pakistani territory (approx. 12000 sq km) under Indian control then during the entire Indo=Pak war 1971.

    On learning of the glorious and unparalleled action, commanders rose in unison to pay homage. However, Longewala soon overshadowed this glorious action. The story of the epic battle did not find its rightful place in history.

    The spirit of the enemy was broken by the defiant bravery of the soldiers who attacked without fear and with support of armour and artillery. The Pakistanis had to divert resources from their thrust towards Longewala to defend Rahim Yar Khan.

    The Battalion as per plan continued its advance along axis Islamgarh – Bhai Khan Wlala Khu and captured it.

    During this battle the Battalion proved that a well trained and motivated can accomplish any task. They have the resilience to adjust and react to situations. Here the man proved beyond doubt their abilities.

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