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Did you know? Pakistan had targeted the Hindu holy city of Dwarka in 1965, wanted to destroy it

With the help of villagers, the IAF recovered almost 25 to 30 shells. They bore the marking of the 'Indian Ordinance' and were dated between 1940-1946. It became clear that the ammunition fired by the Pakistani vessels were the ones handed to them at the time of Partition.

The date was September 7, 1965. India was engaged in fighting the Pakistani forces, which had infiltrated into the Indian territory of Jammu and Kashmir. The war between the two nations was at its peak when Pakistan decided to attack the Holy Hindu city of Dwarka in Gujarat in northwestern India.

Since the armed forces were busy fighting in Punjab and Kashmir, Pakistan deployed its Navy to carry out a ‘nuisance raid’. A detailed account of this raid by the Pakistan Navy was published by Sandeep Unnithan in DailO.

Dwarka is located about 200 km away from Karachi. Owing to its physical proximity to Pakistan’s major port city, the Pakistani Navy sent out a fleet of 7 naval vessels. It included one light cruiser (PNS Babur), and 6 destroyers, namely, PNS Khaibar, PNS Tippu Sultan, PNS Badr, PNS Jahangir, PNS Shah Jahan, and PNS Alamgir.

The ulterior motives of Pakistan behind attacking Dwarka

Interestingly, the fleet was named after all Islamic invaders who had committed brutal atrocities against the Hindus. Pakistan wanted to divert the attention of the Indian Air Force (IAF) from the Northern front and force the Indian Navy to mobilise its ships from Mumbai (then Bombay) towards Dwarka. The Pakistan Navy sought to destroy the supposed radar installations in Dwarka and damage Indian vessels using its submarine, PNS Ghazi.

A signal was sent from the Pakistani Navy Headquarters. It read, “Task group comprising PNS BABUR, PNS KHAIBAR, PNS BADR, PNS JAHANGIR, PNS ALAMGIR, PNS SHAHJAHAN and PNS TIPU SULTAN is to be in position 239 degrees – 120 miles from Dwarka lighthouse by 071800 E Sep with maximum power available.”

It further stated, “Task group thereafter to carryout bombardment of Dwarka about midnight using 50 rounds per ship. Force is to retire from bombardment area by 080030 E Sep and return to present patrol area at full speed. One or two enemy frigates may be expected to encounter in the area in addition to enemy air threat.” The sinister plan was to be carried out under the supervision of the then Commodore S.M. Anwar.

Pakistan dubbed ‘Operation Dwarka’ a success, made baseless claims of huge losses to the Indian side

As per Pakistani claims, their warships fired nine shells which supposedly destroyed the infrastructure of the Indian Naval Radar station in Dwarka. The Pakistani forces also claimed to have killed 13 Indian sailors, and two officers. They also claimed that the Indian radar system was to be used by the IAF for attacking Pakistan, which got allegedly stalled due to shelling by Pakistan’s navy vessels.

Hailing the ‘nuisance raid’ as a successful operation, Parhlo wrote, “The success of the Dwarka operation is attributed to the unflinching sense of alacrity to serve the nation beyond the call of duty marked by the highest sense of patriotism and sacrifice. Though the war was indecisive, India suffered much heavier material and personnel casualties compared to Pakistan.”

Eventually, Radio Pakistan also added fuel to the fire of misinformation. It claimed that PNS Babur shelled and damaged Dwarka such that the trail of smoke was visible from 10 miles.

Indian army tells the real story and how Pakistan could manage to kill one cow

While recounting the incident, former Indian Air Force Sergent Ramesh Madan wrote, “I looked at my watch and it was 01:15 am on the morning of September 8, 1965. I wanted to say something to my companion, then, there was a loud SWIIISHHH and a BOOOM. Both, my companion and me looked towards that direction but the first BOOOM was followed by more SWIIIISHES and BOOMS!!  Everyone in the unit and the city was up and running all around. People were jumping in the trenches and or falling flat on the ground to escape from this shelling.”

He added the shelling stopped only after 10 minutes, post which everyone went out of their trenches. In a letter to his family, Sergent Ramesh Madan said, “There are more donkeys in Dwarka than people and none of the donkeys has been injured so what can one say about the people”.” He informed that the smoke the Pakistanis claimed to be of the damage caused due to shelling, was in fact from an Associated Cement Company factory. The said factory was located 0.5 miles away from the Indian base in Dwarka and the smoke could be seen up to 20 miles away.

With the help of villagers, they recovered almost 25 to 30 shells. They bore the marking of the ‘Indian Ordinance’ and were dated between 1940-1946. It became clear that the ammunition fired by the Pakistani vessels were the ones handed to them at the time of Partition. A large number of shells fell on the field between the Dwarkadhish temple and the Railway station.

“All the other shells went over the village and into the fields. The miracle behind this was that the sea level had risen from the time the Pakistani ship had taken its position to the time it started shelling. This resulted in most of the shells overshooting Dwarka,” IAF Sergent Ramesh Madan concluded.

Nevertheless, the Pakistanis failed to inflict any damage and also lost the 1965 war subsequently. But since the State of Pakistan runs on falsified history, despite not making any impact, it celebrates September 8 as ‘Pakistan Navy Day.’ According to DailyO, the only casualty in the Pakistani shelling at Dwarka was an unfortunate cow.

The Impact of ‘Operation Dwarka’ on Indian Navy

Indian Navy underwent tremendous modernisation in the following decades owing to the nuisance raid by Pakistan. “India decided to accept the pending offer of the Soviet Union to meet the Indian Navy’s requirements for the latest ships and submarines; the new units would be based in the Bay of Bengal to counter Indonesian adventurism. Finally, to deter attacks on coastal ports, like that on Dwarka, Soviet missile boats of the type that had been supplied to the Indonesian and Egyptian navies were to be evaluated,” wrote Indian Navy Vice Admiral (retd.) Gulab Hiranandani.

Between 1966 and 1971, India acquired 5 patrol boats, 5 submarine chasers, 2 landing ships, 4 submarines, a submarine depot ship, a submarine rescue vessel, and 8 missile boats from Soviet Russia. 

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Dibakar Dutta
Dibakar Dutta
Centre-Right. Political analyst. Assistant Editor @Opindia. Reach me at [email protected]

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