Ex-Lt Gen questions Manekshaw`s strategy during 1971 war
New Delhi: Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, the Army Chief during 1971 war, may have won all round accolades, but his operational and strategic thinking has come in for questioning from one of his junior commanders Lieutenant General J F R Jacob. In his autobiography, "An Odyssey in War and Peace", Lt Gen Jacob, then Chief of Staff of Eastern Army Command, has sought to fault Manekshaw along with some other Commanders for their role during the war in which India was instrumental in creation of Bangladesh. "Manekshaw based in Delhi, had little feel of the situation on the ground," Jacob has claimed in the book.
He claims that Manekshaw had decided not to include capture of Dacca as one of the principal objectives of Indian operations. "I was flabbergasted...I was at complete loss to understand the concept underlying Manekshaw`s operational thinking," Jacob says.
"I maintained that it was imperative that we capture Dacca to control the whole of East Pakistan. Gen Manekshaw smiled at me, using his favorite term of endearment, `Jake sweetie, don`t you see that if we take Khulna and Chittagong, Dacca will automatically fall.
There is therefore no need to take Dacca," writes Jacob. He further mentions how Manekshaw ordered broadcast of a message intercepted from Pakistan Navy, helping them change their wireless codes and leading to a failure of Indian code breaking operations.
"The intercept indicated a rendezvous for river craft at Gupta Crossing on Meghna river. Manekshaw interpreted this to indicate that elements of Pakistan army were attempting to flee to Burma. He ordered Maj Gen Inder Gill (Director, Military Operations) to broadcast that he knew what they (Pakistani) were up to at Gupta Crossing," Jacob writes. "The broadcast was made and the Pakistan Navy immediately changed their code.
Subsequently we were unable to read any further naval wireless traffic," he adds. Jacob further says, Manekshaw was "convinced" that China would attack India while no movement of Chinese troops was seen on the Tibetan Plateau and the intercepts of Chinese radio traffic also did not indicate any such plan by them.
"Manekshaw was convinced that the Chinese would attack, a view he held right up to December 8, 1971," writes Jacob. On Manekshaw`s relations with other service chiefs Jacob writes, "Unfortunately, the equation between the Army and Air Force Chiefs at Service Headquarters was less than cordial. The Army and Air Force Chiefs were not on speaking terms."