1965: A Western Sunrise is yet another masterpiece in the galaxy of books on military history being turned out virtually in a calendar-like periodicity by the Dehra Dun-born Shiv Kunal Verma. The book, according to critics “sets the bar in military writing.” A book review by Raj Kanwar
The latest offering –1965: A Western Sunrise –is yet another masterpiece in the galaxy of books on military history being turned out virtually in a calendar-like periodicity by the Dehra Dun-born Shiv Kunal Verma. The book, according to critics, is by far the most lucid and in-depth account of the 1965 War and “it sets the bar in military writing.” The book is slated to become author’s magnum opus.
“WHILE India was still licking its wounds from the disastrous 1962 War against the Chinese, the belligerent Pakistan decided to wrest Kashmir from India. To test the waters, they launched their first military probes into the Rann of Kutch between February and May of 1965; India strongly responded” Verma writes in the Introduction.
“However, by the end of July, India gave in to the dictates of the UN and stood down the troops it had mobilized in the Punjab and Kargil sectors in response to the Rann of Kutch ‘skirmishes’. Pakistan then launched its masterstroke – Operation Gibraltar – in Kashmir in August 1965. Nearly 12,000 trained Mujahids were covertly deployed in multiple groups, each named after historical plunderers of the sub-continent. Confident that they had the superior armour [M-47 and M-48 Patton tanks], better fighter planes [F-86 Sabres and F-104 Starfighters] and better submarines [Daphnes] than India, the Pakistanis expected that in the event of an expanded war, the Indians would collapse just as they had against China in NEFA three years previously. But contrary to the Pakistan’s expectations, India repulsed the attack and cut off its entry and exist points into the Kashmir Valley by capturing the Haji Pir Bulge. Operation Gibraltar thus fizzled out. “
What makes the Book a great read is the author’s versatility in matters military, and his long standing conviviality with its officers.
Wounds of the Partition
Considered in the context of the multiple factors such as the wounds of the Partition, chronic disagreements over Kashmir, the interviews the author has had with the soldiers, officers, bureaucrats, and others who have had a first-hand view of the conflict and his own research of the terrain, there is no gainsaying that 1965: A Western Sunrise undoubtedly provides a definitive account of the 1965 War between India and Pakistan.
(Raj Kanwar is a Dehra Dun-based veteran journalist, writer and author)