Jagjit Singh Aurora
Lieutenant General Jagjit Singh Arora (also Jagjit Singh Aurora)[note 1], PVSM (13 February 1916 or 13 February 1917[note 2] – 3 May 2005) was an Indian army officer who was the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (GOC-in-C) of the Eastern Command during the third war with Pakistan in 1971. He led the ground forces campaign in the Eastern front of the war, which led to an overwhelming defeat of the Pakistan Army and the creation of Bangladesh.
Jagjit Singh Arora
13 February 1916|
Kala Gujran, Jhelum District, Punjab, British India (now in Punjab, Pakistan)
3 May 2005 (aged 89)|
New Delhi, India
British Indian Army|
|Years of service||1939–1973|
2nd Punjab Regiment (until 1947) |
Punjab Regiment (after 1947)
|Commands held||Eastern Army|
Burma Campaign, World War II |
Indo-Pakistani War of 1947
Indo-Pakistani War of 1965
Indo-Pakistani War of 1971
Param Vishisht Seva Medal |
After Independence and the ensuing Partition of India, he opted to join the Indian Army and was a commissioned officer in the Punjab Regiment during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947. On 3 February 1957, he was promoted acting brigadier and given command of an infantry brigade. As a brigadier, he fought in the Sino-Indian War in 1962, and was promoted to major-general on 20 June 1964. He was appointed Director of Military Training (DMT) on 23 November 1964. He also participated in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965.
On 6 June 1966, Major General Arora was appointed Deputy Chief of the Army Staff (DCOAS) with the acting rank of lieutenant-general, and was promoted substantive lieutenant-general on 4 August. He was appointed the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (GOC-in-C) of the Indian Army's Eastern Command on 8 June 1969.
In March 1971, the Pakistan Army launched Operation Searchlight to curb the Bengali nationalist movement in East Pakistan. The operation resulted in the 1971 Bangladesh atrocities, including the systematic murder of Bengali intellectuals by the Pakistan Army. The ensuing violence led to almost 10 million Bengali refugees fleeing from East Pakistan into India. A spontaneous Bengali guerrilla force, the Mukti Bahini, was formed in response. This force along with the newly formed Bangladesh Forces, consisting of Bengali defectors from the Pakistan Army under the command of Colonel Mohammad Ataul Ghani Osmany, were engaged in escalating hostilities with the Pakistani Army.
For the next eight months, with tensions escalating between India and Pakistan and anticipating possible hostilities, Aurora oversaw the logistical preparations of the Indian Army on the Eastern front, including the improvement of roads, communications and bridges, as well as the movement of 30,000 tons of supplies close to the border with East Pakistan.
At the outbreak of the war on 3 December 1971, as Eastern Army Commander, Gen. Aurora oversaw the Indian ground forces into battle in East Pakistan. In a meticulously planned operation, forces under Aurora's command formed numerous small combat teams and launched a four-front attack with the strategy of confronting and defeating the Pakistani forces on selected fronts, while bypassing Pakistani forces on others. In under two weeks, his forces advanced from the Indian border to capture Dhaka, the capital of East Pakistan.
The Unified Commander of Pakistan Armed Forces's Eastern Military High Command, Lieutenant General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi was forced to sign an unconditional Instrument of Surrender. The photograph of Niazi and Aurora at the signing of the Instruments of Surrender became an iconic image of the war, with The Guardian describing the scene as "the glum Pakistani officer bowed over his signature. The turbaned figure beside him, showing not a scrap of elation". The 90,000 Pakistani troops under Niazi's command surrendered to Gen Aurora as prisoners of war. Pakistan lost almost 57,000 square miles (150,000 km2) of its territory and 70 million of its people to the newly formed nation of Bangladesh.
Aurora was honoured with the Param Vishisht Seva Medal and the Padma Bhushan for his role in the war. He retired from the Indian Army in 1973. Lt. Gen. JFR Jacob has written in his book An Odyssey in War And Peace that Gen. Aurora approached then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi for governorship of a state but she declined. Jacob also writes that Gen Aurora and Mrs. Aurora were a regular part of the social life of Calcutta.
In 1984, Aurora fiercely criticised the Indian National Congress leadership following Operation Blue Star, which was a false manipulation by the current government of flushing out armed Sikh militants who had taken up positions inside the Golden Temple in Amritsar but also caused extensive damage to the holiest shrine of Sikhism. Subsequently, he spent several years as a member of parliament in the Rajya Sabha, the upper House of the Indian Parliament, for the Akali Dal, a Sikh political party.
Aurora was also an active member of the Citizen's Justice Committee which provided pro bono assistance to Sikh victims of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, who were attacked or killed by mobs orchestrated by the Congress Party in New Delhi, following the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards.
Jagjit Singh Aurora died on 3 May 2005, at age 89, in New Delhi. He was survived by a son and a daughter. After his death, the gratitude of Bangladesh to General Aurora was emphasized in a message to India, from Morshed Khan, the Bangladeshi Foreign Minister, stating: "Aurora will be remembered in the history of Bangladesh for his contribution during our war of liberation in 1971, when he led the allied forces."
The site of the Pakistani surrender, where Lt. Gen. Niazi signed the Instrument of Surrender with Lt. Gen. Aurora on 16 December 1971 is being converted into what will be called Independence Square. The plans include the installation of an eternal flame.
Dates of rankEdit
|Insignia||Rank||Component||Date of rank|
|Second Lieutenant||British Indian Army||1 February 1939|
|Lieutenant||British Indian Army||30 January 1940|
|Captain||British Indian Army||22 February 1940 (acting)|
5 February 1941 (temporary)
1 May 1942 (war-substantive)
30 January 1946 (substantive)
|Major||British Indian Army||1 February 1942 (acting)|
1 May 1942 (temporary)
|Captain||Indian Army||15 August 1947[note 3]|
|Captain||Indian Army||26 January 1950 (recommissioning and change in insignia)|
|Major||Indian Army||26 February 1950 (temporary)|
30 January 1951 (substantive)
|Lieutenant-Colonel||Indian Army||30 January 1952|
|Colonel||Indian Army||1 August 1958|
|Brigadier||Indian Army||3 February 1957 (acting)|
|Major General||Indian Army||20 June 1964|
|Lieutenant-General||Indian Army||6 June 1966 (acting)|
4 August 1966 (substantive)
- Both spellings are used in official documents; though "Aurora" predominates in the listings in the pre-Independence Indian Army List, as do those in the Gazette of India.
- As given in the pre-Independence Indian Army List.
- Upon independence in 1947, India became a Dominion within the British Commonwealth of Nations. As a result, the rank insignia of the British Army, incorporating the Tudor Crown and four-pointed Bath Star ("pip"), was retained, as George VI remained Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Armed Forces. After 26 January 1950, when India became a republic, the President of India became Commander-in-Chief, and the Ashoka Lion replaced the crown, with a five-pointed star being substituted for the "pip."
- "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 12 May 1951. p. 89.
- "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 16 July 1966. p. 413.
- Indian Army List (Special Edition) 1947. Government of India Press. 1947. pp. 245–246.
- "Homage to a Hero: Lt Gen J. S. Arora". Frontline. 17 June 2005. Retrieved 24 July 2011.
- "Modesty in victory". The Tribune (Chandigarh). Indo-Asian News Service. 4 May 2005. Archived from the original on 18 May 2011. Retrieved 27 November 2016.
- "Jagjit Singh Aurora, 89, Indian War Hero, Is Dead". The New York Times. 6 May 2005. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
- "Punjab Regiment: Colonels of the Regiment". Indian Army. Retrieved 24 July 2011.
- "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 30 March 1957. p. 76.
- "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 12 September 1964. p. 371.
- "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 19 December 1964. p. 509.
- "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 15 October 1966. p. 628.
- "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 19 July 1969. p. 663.
- Raja, Dewan Mohammad Tasawwar, O GENERAL MY GENERAL (Life and Works of General M A G Osmany), p35-109, ISBN 978-984-8866-18-4
- "Obituary: Lt Gen Jagjit Singh Aurora". guardian.co.uk. 11 May 2005. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
- "Bangladesh honours Gen. Aurora". The Hindu. 22 May 2005. Retrieved 21 November 2014.
- "Obituary: Lt Gen Jagjit Singh Aurora". The Guardian. 11 May 2005. Retrieved 21 November 2014.
- "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 November 2014. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
- "Jake and I, we broke the Naxals". The Telegraph. Retrieved 8 May 2011.
- "1971 war hero Lt General J S Aurora dead". Times of India. 3 May 2005. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
- Indian Army List October 1945 (Part I). Government of India Press. 1945. pp. 243–244.
- "New Designs of Crests and Badges in the Services" (PDF). Press Information Bureau of India - Archive. Archived (PDF) from the original on 8 August 2017.
- "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 2 July 1955. p. 131.
- "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 28 November 1959. p. 294.