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Some of the best-kept Indian military secrets that have since been revealed to the public

Indian military is one of the most secretive military in the world. Unlike in western nations like US there are no laws which will automatically declassify the military secrets and operations after a certain period, say 30 years. However, some details are allowed by the Government of India to be published in some sources from time to time.

How Indians Confused Pakistanis ?

During 1971 war, Pakistani military had better code breaking equipments supplied by US. So Indians used Dravidian languages to communicate between each other. Pakistan was unable to understand the local colloquial slang and usages by Indian communication experts. This was similar to Navajo Code Talkers of US army in WW2. Needless to say Pakistanis were totally bewildered by this tactic and it resulted in Indians getting an advantage in the battlefield.

Russian Speaking Indian or Indian Speaking Russian ..?

In 1971 war, Indian navy crew on-board the missile destroyer INS Nirghat, INS Nipat and INS Veer communicated with the Mumbai HQ and the Indian Air Force in Russian language instead of English or Hindi!. Pakistan mistook these chatter for the Russians chatter in the Arabian sea (very far from Karachi Port) which was countering US navy movements. Thus Pakistan’s naval intelligence was fooled by Indian Navy before the commencement and during the operation Trident. The Operation Python which followed this destroyed Karachi port. And Pakistanis had no idea what hit them.

Read the story on how Karachi burned for seven days

Establishment 22 :The Force That don’t Exist

Establishment 22 is also known as Special Frontier Force is an Indian Special forces’ unit which was only created for covert operations in the enemy territory. This group was initially trained and equipped by CIA and IB (later R&AW). It is not a part of Indian Army and reports directly to the Prime Minister of India. Most of the soldiers in this group are Tibetans and some officers are also Tibetans. They have fought in the 1971 war for independence of Bangladesh. But most of them were not acknowledged and given medals openly for their valour because of their covert status and as Indian Government has no idea about their existence. Their involvement is known in the extraction of Dalai Lama from Tibet, in the capture of Chittagong hill tracts from Pakistan, Securing Siachen, Kargil conflict etc. Most of their missions are not recognised and the credits are usually given to other regiments to maintain their cover. Funny thing about the secrecy of SFF operations is that even Indian Army doesn’t know what they are up to. In 1975 a new rule pertaining to the SFF prohibited them from being deployed to within 10 km of the Indo-Chinese border, unless under explicit instructions. This came about after several incidents in which SFF was found to be conducting unsanctioned cross-border raids and intelligence operations. This may be a cover to protect the covert status of Establishment 22 personnels in that area from getting noticed as “officially” they are banned from operating there.

Read more about The curious case of establishment 22

How India Saved Mauritius..?

The Top Secret ‘Operation Lal Dora’ was a highly classified mission which was conceived in 1983 [1]. This was approved by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Main objectives of this mission called for the amphibious landing of troops from the 54th Division in Mauritius. This was to help the Mauritian Prime Minister Anerood Jugnauth fight off a coup attempt from his radical rival Paul Berenger. It is said that later this military operation was shelved by the Indian PM because of a squabble between the Indian Army and Navy about who will take lead in the operation. Then this operation was transferred to a task force under the then R&AW chief, Nowsher F. Suntook. He was able to mobilise the Indian community in that nation to support Mr. Jugnauth. But many believe that Mrs. Gandhi had no intention of using military in the first place. She made sure that details about Indian military preparation and rumours about an imminent Indian attack was spread in the Berenger camp. Thus India without even firing a single bullet, prevented a bloody coup from happening in Mauritius. Jugnauth stayed in power for a decade more.

Read more in Extract from India’s Ocean – Operation Lal Dora

India in Seychelles

Operation Flowers are Blooming in 1986 is the first instance India had projected it military power to a distant land and influenced the fate of a nation. This was also a bloodless operation. France-Albert René was the President of Seychelles. In 1980′s there were many coup attempts on his regime. Most of them were supported by the apartheid government of South Africa. René asked Indian PM Mrs. Indira Gandhi to provide the security cover for the nation and his government. India was famously termed as “the awkward grandfather of the region” by René. He wanted India to play a major security role in the Indian ocean region by publicly committing to secure Seychelles. But Mrs. Gandhi cautious of the imperialistic nature of this proposition, did not do that. But India continually sent ships to visit the ports and got acquainted with the nation. In 1986 Indian intelligence came to know about an imminent coup of René’s government. The coup was named Operation Distant Lash, which involved some 30 mercenaries and 350 Seychellois. Thus then Indian PM Mr. Rajiv Gandhi, verbally ordered his Chief of Naval Staff to provide assistance. India decided to sent and berth INS Vindhyagiri in port Victoria for an elongated time in the name of some “emergency repairs”. 20 weapon trained “engineers” were also readied to be dispatched if the need arise. Indian ship started some training exercises and provided public displays of commando slithering and attacks using its Sea King helicopter. Thus in this 12 days René repaired and fortified his Presidential Palace and the coup was averted. Later Seychellois authorities arrested 6 coup plotters but the main one, the defence minister, was not arrested due to political reasons. Two months later another plot of coup attempt was intercepted by Indians. This time the main plotter who was also the defence minister of Seychelles was deported to London and 4 army officers were forced to resign. Thus Indian Military head off multiple coup attempts in Seychelles and became a very close security partner for that nation. This evidently has broadened Indian Navy’s reach and positioning in Indian ocean.

Read more in Flowers Are Blooming: the story of the India Navy’s secret operation in the Seychelles

Why India Stopped Fighting in 1965 War?

In 1965 war India generously agreed to a ceasefire after repeated pleas from the major powers, at a time it was crushing Pakistan. At that time Indian Army chief was General Jayanto Nath Chaudhuri. The Kolkata-born general came from an affluent background [2] and had become army chief purely on the back of family connections and pure luck. Predictably he lacked war fighting qualities and usually fell in to depression. Whenever Indian Army suffered a setback he would run to the Defence minister’s office afraid and each time the minister had to give a pep talk for the General !!!. On September 20 Prime Minister asked General Chaudhuri whether India could expect to gain if the war continued for a few days more. General informed the PM that the army was coming to an end of its ammunition holdings and could not sustain fighting for much longer. Chaudhuri thus advised acceptance of the ceasefire proposal. It was later discovered in overall terms only 14% – 20% of the Indian Army’s ammunition stock had been used up. In contrast, Pakistan had expended 80% of its ammo. It had also lost 250 of its latest US-supplied tanks. At the moment of our greatest advantage the army chief’s non-comprehension of the intricacies of the long-range logistics deprived India of a decisive victory.

Another interesting fact about this General is that he is the one who ordered the Army Commander Harbaksh Singh to withdraw when Pakistan Army attacked Khem Kharan Sector in Punjab. The commander refused, and what followed was the Battle of Asal Uttar – the greatest tank battle since Battle of Kursk in 1943. The Indian counter attack on the night of September 10 was so ferocious that by the morning they had knocked out about 70 Pakistani tanks.

Funny coincidence is that Pervez Musharraf, later Pakistani Army Chief of Staff and President of Pakistan, participated in this battle as a lieutenant of artillery in the 16 (SP) Field Regiment, 1st Armoured Division Artillery. No wonder why he could never win any more wars in his life again. !!!

Read more in the book 1965 War, The Inside Story or check 1965 War: Why India quit when it was winning

Source: Quora answer by Swaroop Krishnan S

 

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