M A I N   N E W S

Brigadier sues Air-Marshal, Maj-Gen for
disputing history
Seeks damages of just Rs 1
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 19
The controversy generated over the authenticity of the Battle of Laungewala, fought on the western frontier during the 1971 Indo-Pak War, took a new twist with a decorated brigadier suing two former senior officers, who had recently disputed the standing history of the battle.

A local court today issued notices for July 26 to Air Marshal M.S. Bawa (retired), Maj-Gen Atma Singh (retired) and eight others on a petition filed by Brig Kuldip Singh Chandpuri (retired), who was then at the centre of the battle and was decorated with the Mahavir Chakra.

In February, Maj-Gen Atma Singh, an artillery air observation pilot, had claimed that the Army had hoodwinked the nation with false tales of valour and it was air power rather than ground action that had crushed the enemy. Atma Singh, who was then commanding No.12 Air Observation Post and was decorated with the Vir Chakra for his actions at Laungewala claimed that no ground battle was fought and the Army had merely rehearsed it on a sand model after the ceasefire to cover up the incompetence of senior commanders.

Two days later, Air Marshal Bawa, claimed that the ground operations at Laungewala were faked and the military leadership had schemed to glorify the Army’s role. At the time of the battle, Bawa was an Air Commodore commanding the Jaisalmer airbase from where the IAF Hunter aircraft had operated.

According to the official history, Pakistani forces, backed by armour, had crossed into the Indian territory on the night of December 4-5 and made repeated attacks to overcome the Laungewala post, which was being defended by a company from 23 Punjab under the command of Chandpuri, then a Major.

Through the night, men of 23 Punjab held their ground against overwhelming odds, beating back the enemy. As many as five soldiers were killed and five seriously wounded from the company and the battalion was awarded the Battle Honour Laungewala.

The battle is a part of the curriculum taught to senior officers in the higher command course at the Army War College and has been immortalised by the Bollywood superhit Border.

Terming the claims of the aforementioned officers as slanderous and libelous, Brigadier Chandpuri has contended that the defendants have tarnished his image and reputation.

In his petition, he has stated that Bawa has contested the remarks on the operation made by his own chief, Air Chief Marshal P.C. Lal, who in his book, ‘My Years with the IAF’, has written, “Maj Kuldip Singh Chandpuri, the company commander who took the brunt of the attack and fought with great grit, courage and determination, was awarded a very well-deserved Mahavir Chakra.”

Seeking declaration to the effect that the articles published by the defendants are libelous, malicious, scandalous and frivolous because they are based on incorrect facts, the plaintiff has sought permanent injunction restraining the defendants from reiterating their claims regarding the Battle of Laungewala. While seeking compensatory damages of just a single rupee, the petition has sought award exemplary cost in favour of the plaintiff, which would be utilised for the benefit of the Laungewala war veterans.



HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |