NEW DELHI:The repackaging and marketing of India’s war history has been put on the priority list by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government. It has set up a separate division in South Block that will only take care of this aspect. To glorify battles fought by the Indian armed forces, the government has planned series of events to showcase their roles; the Modi government intends to project soldiers as heroes, not the political leadership.
Since the Modi government came into power in May 2014, it has taken initiatives to glamorise Indian war history. First, it commemorated the centenary year of World War I, then cleared a decision to produce telefilms on wars and conflicts from World War I to the 1999 Kargil conflict and the 1971 war with Pakistan in which the role of former prime minister Indira Gandhi is yet to be decided.
After the Indian Army commemorated the centenary year of World War I in March, the government has now planned a month-long celebration of the golden jubilee year of the 1965 India-Pakistan war from August 28, then the anniversaries of the 1971 war, the Kargil conflict and World War II.
At the behest of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the Ministry of Defence has created a War History Cell, which will facilitate various government departments for information on wars and battles involving Indian armed forces. The War History Cell, which is headed by a Brigadier, has been mandated to carry out research work on Indian battles and to garner maximum global attention.
The cell will also work on rewriting stories of battles in a simplified versionas official books on India’s wars are full of military jargons and technicalities. During his stint as the minister of defence during the early months of the NDA government, Arun Jaitley had said that India is one of the few countries that don’t have a formal documentation of its war history. He had directed the Ministry of Defence officials to start the process of bringing out a war history of the Indian armed forces in print, digital and celluloid. The PMO has been constantly asking the Army to share even the smallest information.
To gain global attention, the Ministry of Defence has planned a 25-day long celebration from Aug 28 to September 22 in the national capital, which include exhibitions, carnivals, musical evenings and tri-service seminars to celebrate India’s victory over Pakistan in 1965. The war has been given importance by previous governments and in contrast, Pakistan has been celebrating the day as its victory. This year, the government’s instructions are clear: celebrations should give a befitting tribute to war heroes and “negate Pakistan’s incorrect perceptions”.
“The threat posed by the Indian armed forces to the famous city of Lahore still inspires and motivates Indian citizen,” a senior army officer said in an communication to Parasar Bharati Chief Executive Officer Jawahar Sircar for seeking assistance to publicise events.
The War History Cell will showcase the 1965 war by highlighting the capture of the Hajipir Pass in Jammu and Kashmir and creation of Patton Nagar in Khemkaran sector of the Punjab. It was named Patton Nagar for a short while in 1965 as that was where a major tank battle took place, resulting in it also being known as the “graveyard of tanks”.
After Independence, India fought four wars (the 1947 war with Pakistan, the 1962 war with China, the 1965 war with East Pakistan and against with Pakistan in 1971), three border conflicts (the 1967 India-China conflict, one with Pakistan in Siachen in 1984 and the Kargil conflict in 1999), inclusion of Hyderabad and the liberation of Goa, Daman and Diu. Apart from these, the Indian Army also participated in peace-keeping operations in Sri Lanka from 1987-91. The army also provided medical assistance during the Korean War and has undertaken numerous UN peace-keeping missions.
Besides projecting wars, the War History Cell will focus on highlighting lesser known battles that are celebrated at the local level. For example, the battle of Teetwal in 1948 was fought at the northern Kashmir district of Kupwara and was the Indian Army’s first victory after Independence. In the battle against Pakistani Raiders, Company Havaldar Major Piru Singh and Lance Naik Karam Singh were posthumously awarded the highest gallantry award of the country, the Param Vir Chakra. Teetwal Day is celebrated locally every year in May.
“There are many battles that have been neglected by the government. But now all such events will be acknowledged nationwide,” said an officer.
After Independence, India fought four wars, three border conflicts and participated in a peace-keeping operation in Sri Lanka from 1987-91 apart from providing medical assistance during the Korean War and undertaking numerous UN peace-keeping missions
● The Ministry of Defence has planned a 25-day long celebration from Aug 28 to September 22 to pay treibute to war heroes and to “negate Pakistan’s incorrect perceptions”
● Pakistan celebrates September 7 as its “victory day” for its 1965 war with India.
● The Indian Army will highlight the capture of the Hajipir Pass in Jammu and Kashmir and creation of Patton Nagar in Khemkaran sector of Punjab during the 1965 war.
● 3,000 soldiers, sailors and airmen died in the 1965 war. Two Param Vir Chakras, 37 Maha Vir Chakras and 174 Vir Chakras were awarded to the armed forces personnael for the war.