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The Lt General Jagjit Singh Aurora Chat

The general was amazing!

Lt General Jagjit Singh Aurora Eighty years old next year, the army officer, who signed the surrender treaty with Pakistan's General A A Niazi on December 16, 1971, spent 90 minutes on the Rediff Chat explaining to an international audience -- which included his two grand-daughters -- how India had won its greatest military triumph and helped liberate Bangladesh.

We think the transcript is awesome. We are sure you agree.

d (Fri Dec 13 20:10:11 1996 IST):

Heloo everyone

d (Fri Dec 13 20:10:18 1996 IST):

Heloo everyone

d (Fri Dec 13 20:12:08 1996 IST):

Heloo everyone

Aarti Arunachalam (Fri Dec 13 20:17:08 1996 IST):

General Aurora, Sir, what an honour to speak with one of the true heroes of my time. I was born after the war, but I would be grateful if you could tell me whether what my father says is true: Could we have dismembered Pakistan? Could we have taken Lahore? Why did we stop?

Nikhil Lakshman: (Fri Dec 13 20:18:53 1996 IST):

General Aurora, It is an honour to have you on the Rediff Chat this evening. Thank you for so graciously accepting our invitation. We do hope you enjoy the experience.

George (Fri Dec 13 20:18:53 1996 IST):

Hi Nikhil, We will be online in about say 5 minutes.

Lt General J S Aurora (Fri Dec 13 20:26:16 1996 IST):

Thank you very much for inviting me for this Chat. It is a new experience which I am sure I will enjoy.

Akash (Fri Dec 13 20:26:45 1996 IST):

Hello Gen Aurora

razzak (Fri Dec 13 20:27:58 1996 IST):

hello, let's have something to munch

Gurbaksh Singh (Fri Dec 13 20:28:31 1996 IST):

Is war the only solution to the Indo-Pak problem?

nelson (Fri Dec 13 20:28:38 1996 IST):

Hi everybody

Lt General J S Aurora (Fri Dec 13 20:29:29 1996 IST):

Arti: Very good question. I must say that I was in charge of the Eastern sector and in 13 days of fighting we won a decisive victory in the East. I am unaware how the fighting went on on the Western front. Therefore I am not in a position to answer the question. On the other hand my personal view is that dismembering Pakistan would not have solved the problem of animosity between the two countries. As a human being I feel that a new course we will have to learn to live each and not continue to fight at the expense of the progress of each country. Thank you.

Savera (Fri Dec 13 20:29:37 1996 IST):

Good evening, General Arora. It's wonderful to be able to chat with you this evening. What is your most memorable memory of this war?

Balaraman Kandoth (Fri Dec 13 20:29:55 1996 IST):

Sir, General Aurora, I read on Rediff today that Sam Manekshaw was actually worried on one day when we lost the Khukri and our troops didn't make advances like they should have. Were you worried at any time in the conflict?

razzak (Fri Dec 13 20:30:27 1996 IST):

how is our PM doing?

nelson (Fri Dec 13 20:31:10 1996 IST):

Hi Gen. Aurora, we're a big group out here inthe desert listening to you. Your grand-daughter Dipika's with us too. ( she's all excited!!)

Lt General J S Aurora (Fri Dec 13 20:31:50 1996 IST):

Gurbak Singh: Thank you for your question. I have already partly anwered for this. I repeat what I said that constant fighting is not the answer this problem as nationas--both Pakistan and India-- have to grow up to resolve their problems peacefully and learn to live together for the prosperity and well-being of both the nations.

Jaswant Srikantan (Fri Dec 13 20:31:58 1996 IST):

Sir, I have been reading Walter Isaacson's excellent biography of Henry Kissinger where he says the then US national security adviser felt that China may come to Pakistan's assistance if the Russian came to ours. As someone who drafted the army's strategy in that war, did you take the likelihood of Chinese intervention into your calculations?

Surya (Fri Dec 13 20:33:08 1996 IST):

Sat Sri Akal, General saab! Did you at any point in time think that we were going to lose this war

Aarti Arunachalam (Fri Dec 13 20:33:42 1996 IST):

Thank you, sir, for answering my question. Dpon't you think the fear that we may win another war against them forced the Pakistanis to draft the K-2 plan, create trouble in Kashmir and Punjab?

Arabindan C (Fri Dec 13 20:34:43 1996 IST):

You, sir, seem to be a peace loving person. What made you join in the army - what made you take part in two bloody wars?

Balaraman Kandoth (Fri Dec 13 20:35:47 1996 IST):

One of the great tragedies for me as an Indian is that Major General Shuhbeg Singh who obtained so much of the military intelligence for the victory in Bangladesh eventually became an enemy of the Indian state? I presume you knew him well. Could we have avoided that tragedy? I grieve that he had so much to contribute to India, yet died in an insurrection that was best avoided.

Lt General J S Aurora (Fri Dec 13 20:35:56 1996 IST):

Balaraman: Thank you. As far as I am concerned operations in the eastern sector went on so well that I had no occasion to feel unhappy about the manner in which the troops were progressing the main objective of reaching Dacca. In fact, for the first time we used helivopters, the tanks that could swim and with the help of the locals with a country-made boats we carried out the crossing of a very wide river for the first time without the enemy becoming aware of it. And this operation soon enabled us to reach Dhaka while large forces of the enemy were still trying to defend some of the important areas close to the boarder. We had by-passed them and they did not realise that we were going for the major kill.

Gurbaksh Singh (Fri Dec 13 20:36:36 1996 IST):

Thank you for answering my question! Do you foresee another war between India and Pakistan? If so, what do you think will be the outcome?

Lt General J S Aurora (Fri Dec 13 20:38:25 1996 IST):

Nelson: It is wonderful for me to know that my grand daughter Dipika is listening to me. May I convey my very best wishes to all. And now please ask me question.

Balaraman Kandoth (Fri Dec 13 20:38:32 1996 IST):

Thank you, General. A question that arises out of your kind response: Would we have won the war in Dacca without the Mukti Bahini's help? And does this not pose some dangerous portents in Kashmir? If the local population turns against the State, how can an army hope to win?

Balaraman Kandoth (Fri Dec 13 20:38:54 1996 IST):

Thank you, General. A question that arises out of your kind response: Would we have won the war in Dacca without the Mukti Bahini's help? And does this not pose some dangerous portents in Kashmir? If the local population turns against the State, how can an army hope to win?

Sanjay Puranik (Fri Dec 13 20:39:27 1996 IST):

In your opinion, is the most memorable moment in that war?

Aarti Arunachalam (Fri Dec 13 20:40:43 1996 IST):

Sam Manekshaw always acts as if he personally won the war. My father says he once told Air Chief Marshal P C Lal to send his air force, to which ACM lal replied, "Sam, that's my damn air force!" Do you rellay believe his leadership and vision was a key factor in us winning the war? Or was that larger than life like everything else Sam does?

Jaswant Srikantan (Fri Dec 13 20:42:48 1996 IST):

I believe you went to college with Yahya Khan. What kind of a person was he? Do you think Pakistan could have put up a better fight had it a better leader? Today's generals in that country seem very able and capable. DSid you ever speak to him after the war?

Lt General J S Aurora (Fri Dec 13 20:43:22 1996 IST):

Savera: Thank you for your question. My most memorable memory of this war is on the 16th of December at 9 in the morning I received a message from General Niazi requesting me to send a staff officer to decide on the modalities without actually using the word surrender. But it was quite obvious that he was ready to give up. I collected my staff in the operation room and thanked them for their help and efficient manner everything had been done. Then I got busy to decide how we were going to reach Dhaka and take the surrender. I may mention here that the surrender was taken out in the open in the presence of large crowds of Bangladeshis who were full of enthusiasm for the Indian army and India for having liberated them.

gupta (Fri Dec 13 20:43:47 1996 IST):

You have seen Bangladesh war. What is your comment on Kashmir? What do you think India should do?

Surya (Fri Dec 13 20:44:27 1996 IST):

Pardon me for butting in so rudely, but wasn't a fierce sense of patriotism and loyalty one of the biggest plus points in our favour? Considering the lack of such sentiments in both the military and civilian population of India, what do you think will happen if we are faced with another war? After all, the Indian army is today in dire straits. It needs recruits, but no one is willing to join in. There are hundreds of vacancies, right from the top level to the bottommost one and there aren't enough people to fill them. How do you think we are going to deal with this sorry state of affairs?

Aarti Arunachalam (Fri Dec 13 20:45:32 1996 IST):

What did General Niazi tell you? Did you have a drink with him afterwards?

Balaraman Kandoth (Fri Dec 13 20:46:39 1996 IST):

Would the Indian army win another war with Pakistan today? Or are there are too many imponderables ( the nuclear option, for instance) which prevents that eventuality?

gupta (Fri Dec 13 20:46:40 1996 IST):

You have seen Bangladesh war. What is your comment on Kashmir? What do you think India should do?