Arun Shridhar Vaidya

General
Arun Shridhar Vaidya
PVSM, MVC and Bar, AVSM
Born 27 January 1926
Alibag, Kolaba District, Bombay Presidency, British India
(now in Raigad District, Maharashtra, India)
Died 10 August 1986
Pune, Maharashtra, India
Allegiance  British India
 India
Service/branch  British Indian Army
 Indian Army
Years of service 1945 - 1986
Rank General
Service number IC-1701[1]
Unit 9th Deccan Horse
Commands held Eastern Army
16 (Independent) Armoured Brigade
Deccan Horse
Awards Padma Vibhushan
Param Vishisht Seva Medal
MVC and Bar
AVSM

General Arunkumar Shridhar Vaidya[1] PVSM, MVC and Bar, AVSM (27 January 1926 – 10 August 1986) was the 13th Chief of Army Staff (COAS) of the Indian Army.

Family

Vaidya was born to Shridhar B. Vaidya and his wife Indira in Bombay on January 27, 1926. His wife's name was Bhanu and they had three daughters.[2][3][4]

Career

Early army career

Vaidya received an emergency commission in the Armoured Corps on 21 October 1945, with the service number IEC-11597, and received a regular army commission as a lieutenant on 7 May 1947, a few months before India's independence.[1]

Lieutenant Colonel

Vaidya was promoted lieutenant-colonel on 10 June 1965,[5] shortly before war broke out between India and Pakistan that year. He was in command of the Deccan Horse. During the time he was instrumental in saving the Command Trucks and fleeing Divisional Headquarters through his tanks through an encirclement by Pakistan Army's 6th Armoured Division at the Battle of Chawinda which resulted in destruction of Pakistan's 1st Armoured Division and heavy loss of Pakistani lives. For this he was awarded the Maha Vir Chakra.

Brigadier

During the 1971 Indo-Pak conflict, he was the commander of an armored brigade in the Zafarwal sector on the western front. In the Battle of Chakra and Dahira, the hostile terrain was combined with minefields. He crossed through the minefield and moved forward. Thus the entire squadron was able to push through the lane and quickly deploy itself to meet the Pakistan Army's counter-attacks.

During the Battle of Basantar or Battle of Barapind in the same conflict, he displayed skill and leadership in getting his tanks through deep minefields. For this he was awarded a second Maha Vir Chakra (known as the Bar to MVC).

General (COAS)

On 31 July 1983 General Vaidya became the 13th Chief Of Army Staff of the Indian Army . In 1984, he planned Operation Blue Star to evict Sikh militants hidden in Golden temple.

Retirement

He retired on 31 January 1986, one of India's most decorated officers.[6] He had completed over 40 years of service.

Operation Blue Star

In 1984, Vaidya designed and supervised[7] Operation Blue Star - a military operation ordered by Indira Gandhi, then Prime Minister of India,[8] against militants commanded by Shabeg Singh (AVSM and PVSM) under Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, Chief of Damdami Taksal, in June 1984 at the Golden Temple complex.

Assassination

As the principal organiser of Operation Blue Star, Vaidya was well aware of being a high-profile target for assassins, but never regretted his role, stating in a 1985 interview: "I do not see any difference in taking up arms against a foreign enemy or an enemy from within...one who takes up arms against his own brother-citizens, against his own Constitution and legally-constituted government is enemy enough, deserving the most ruthless punishment."[9] Despite numerous death threats being sent to his offices in the months before his retirement, he remained equally calm about the very real danger to his life: "After seeing two wars I can't run away from danger. If a bullet is destined to get me, it will come with my name written on it."

Following Vaidya's retirement, he took up residence in Pune, India, where he built a three-bedroom bungalow for his retirement. Just six months later, on 10 August 1986, he was shot to death in his white Maruti car while driving home from the market on Rajendrasinhji Marg, Pune, at around 11:45 a.m.[9][10] According to police, four reportedly clean-shaven men pulled up alongside the car on motorcycles, with the lead assassin firing three shots into Vaidya through the driver's-side window; the first two bullets penetrated his brain and killed him instantly.[9][11] A third bullet struck Vaidya in the shoulder, with another striking his wife in the neck. His bodyguard, who was also in the car, was wounded by four bullets in his back and thighs.[12]

According to Indian intelligence sources, Vaidya had been the number four assassination target on lists of Punjabi insurgents and he was one of several people killed in retaliation for Operation Blue Star.[13][14] Vaidya was cremated in Pune with full military honours; in attendance were his wife, daughters Neeta Kochar, Parijat Belliappa and Tarini Vaidya, Union ministers V.P. Singh, V.N. Gadgil and Arun Singh, the three service chiefs, Maharashtra Governor S.D. Sharma and Chief Minister of Maharashtra S.B. Chavan, along with over 50,000 other mourners.[9]

Following the assassination, the Khalistan Commando Force issued a statement declaring that Vaidya had been killed in retaliation for the Golden Temple operation.[13] The assassination shocked India, and security measures for senior military commanders, particularly for those who had taken part in Blue Star, were immediately stepped up. Local anti-Sikh rioting broke out in Pune and Mumbai after Vaidya's assassination; a number of people were stabbed and several Sikh-owned businesses were attacked.[9]

In 1989, Sukhdev Singh Sukha and Harjinder Singh Jinda were sentenced to death for the killing. Despite admitting to the killing, they pleaded not-guilty, justifying their actions by stating that Vaidya was "guilty of a serious crime, the punishment for which could only be death".[14] The two were executed on 9 October 1992.

Awards and recognition

Honours and awards

Param Vishisht Seva Medal
Maha Vir Chakra
Ati Vishist Seva Medal
Wound Medal
General Service Medal 1947
Samanya Seva Medal
Samar Seva Medal
Paschimi Star
Raksha Medal
Sangram Medal
Sainya Seva Medal
Indian Independence Medal
25th Anniversary of Independence Medal
30 Years Long Service Medal
20 Years Long Service Medal
9 Years Long Service Medal
1939 - 1945 Star
Burma Star
War Medal: 1939 - 1945
India Service Medal

References

  1. 1 2 3 "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 24 March 1951. p. 57.
  2. S.Sartaj Alam Abidi; Satinder Sharma (2008). Services Chiefs of India. Northern Book Centre. p. 73.
  3. "DnaIndia mumbai report (Dec 2013)". CKP as a community has been known for its “writing and fighting skills”. Some prominent faces that it boasts as members are Baji Prabhu Deshpande, a fighter in Shivaji’s army, Ram Ganesh Gadkari, Marathi writer, B G Deshmukh, ex-chief secretary, Bal Thackeray, General Arun Kumar Vaidya, late army chief, and Tanuja and Smita Salaskar...
  4. "Nagpur Today (Nov 2014)". Among the famous CKP people are – Balasaheb Thackeray and the entire clan; Mr. C.D. Deshmukh, India’s first Finance Minister and Governor of the RBI, film star Kajol’s mother Tanuja who is daughter of famous erstwhile actress Shobhana Samarth. Nutan was her sister. Admiral Tipnis, Chief of Indian Air force; General Vaidya and many more such luminaries.
  5. "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 11 March 1967. p. 178.
  6. "General Arunkumar Sridhar Vaidya". Bharat-Rakshak.com. Archived from the original on 10 January 2014.
  7. "IN BRIEF; Indian General Who Raided Temple Is Slain". The New York Times. 17 August 1986.
  8. "Operation Bluestar, 20 Years On". Rediff.com.
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 Rahman, M. (31 August 1986). "Former army chief General A.S. Vaidya assassinated by Sikh militants in Pune". India Today.
  10. Associated Press. "Shrine Leader Killed in Ambush", The Dallas Morning News, 11 August 1986.
  11. Weisman, Steven R. "A Top Indian General is Assassinated", Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 11 August 1986.
  12. Sun-Times Wires. "Sikhs kill ex-army chief, massacre revenge hinted", Chicago Sun-Times, 11 August 1986.
  13. 1 2 Associated Press. "General cremated; Sikhs admit to killing", c/o Houston Chronicle, 11 August 1986.
  14. 1 2 "The Vaidya Murder Case: Confirming Death Sentences", India Abroad. (New York edition). New York, N.Y.: 24 July 1992. Vol.XXII, Issue. 43; pg.20.
Military offices
Preceded by
Kotikalapudi Venkata Krishna Rao
Chief of Army Staff
19831986
Succeeded by
Krishnaswamy Sundarji
Preceded by
E A Vas
General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Eastern Command
1981 - 1983
Succeeded by
K Chiman Singh

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