Field Marshal K. M. Cariappa made the Indian Army truly Indian

Discussion in 'Indian Army' started by Nuvneet Kundu, Jan 15, 2016.

  1. Nuvneet Kundu

    Nuvneet Kundu Senior Member Senior Member

    Jan 15, 2016
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    General Cariappa was the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Western Command during the Jammu and Kashmir operations. General Roy Butcher, who was then the Commander-in-Chief, had tried his best to tie General Cariappa's hands in 1948 by not approving plans to evict Pakistani 'raiders' from some sensitive areas. General Cariappa, as GOC-in-C, quietly decided to clear the Pakistani raiders from Jammu - Naushera axis. He also directed the operations for recapture of Zoji la Drass and Kargil.

    He was then fighting on two fronts, the Army Headquarters led by General Roy Butcher and the Pakistani Army led by General Messervy.

    Only recently, British records of that period have been declassified. Not many know that General Roy Butcher was more loyal to the King of England than the Government of India. He used to send messages to the British Government through the British High Commissioner over the head of the Defence Minister. He also advised the Indian Cabinet against launching the operation against the Nizam's forces in Hyderabad.

    He is reported to have said: "As your C-in-C, I ask you not to start the operations." And he offered his resignation if his advice was not heeded. There was a general silence while a distressed and worried Jawaharlal Nehru looked around. Sardar Patel, who was the Home Minister, remarked: "You may resign, General Bucher, but the police action will start tomorrow."

    An angry Bucher stormed out of the meeting. All these indicated the importance for the Indian Army to have an Indian Army Chief. General Cariappa as Commander-in-Chief turned the imperial army into a national army. He raised the Brigade of Guards and the Parachute Regiments on an all-India caste composition and directed the raising of the National Cadet Corps and the Territorial Army.

    General Cariappa was keen that Army Officers, on retirement, should have a say in the affairs of the nation. He did contest the elections in Bombay, but lost. I last saw General Cariappa in 1986 when the rank of Field Marshal was conferred on him. When the order was read in the Rashtrapati Bhavan before President Zail Singh handed over the baton, considering his age, he was offered a chair to sit down, but he preferred to stand-ramrod straight.

    Not many remember that Field Marshal Ayub Khan served under General Cariappa in the British Indian Army. When his son Flt. Lt. K. C. "Nanda" Cariappa (who later rose to the rank of an Air Marshal) was taken prisoner after his Hunter aircraft was shot down during the 1965 war, Field Marshal Ayub Khan contacted General Cariappa in Mercara and offered to release his son.

    The reply of General Cariappa was: "He is my son no longer... He is the child of this country, a soldier fighting for his motherland like a true patriot. My many thanks for your kind gesture, but I request you to release all or release none. Give him no special treatment."

    A great deal of credit goes to Field Marshal Cariappa to have made the Indian Army truly Indian.

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