Battle of Longewala: Background, Event and Outcome 

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battle of longewala

The final war between India and Pakistan took place in December 1971 in a small town of Rajasthan, called Longewala. The Battle of Longewala was a day-long battle that started on 4 and ended on 7, December 1971. On the night of December 4, 1971, a large Pakistani armored infantry force advanced across the international boundary. Their main motive was to capture the town of Ramgurh and then proceed to Jaisalmer. It was not a sudden attack, the two nations faced continuous political tensions. For instance, East Pakistan, and the number of migrants entering India. This blog will uncover the details of the Battle of Longewala, so keep scrolling. 

Battle of Longewala Overview
Battle Took Place From4-7 December 1971
PlaceLongewala is a small town in Rajasthan
Fought Between India and Pakistan
Won ByIndia

Plan of the Battle

Yahya Khan, erstwhile president of East Pakistan followed the security doctrine of his predecessor, Firld Marshal, Ayub Khan. it was ‘ The Defence of East Pakistan lies in the east.’ Well, it was one of Pakistan’s military strategies. The major strategy of Pakistan’s forces was to enter from the western front and control as much of the area as possible. 

  • It would have been easy to end the war soon because of international pressure. So their idea was to use these lands in post-war negotiations. 
  • They planned lightning attacks on the Indian military and made major territory controls.
  • The town of Rahim Yar Khan, on the Indian border in the state of Pakistan was the critical communication center for the Pakistan army.
  • It was the road link between Karachi and the northern parts of Pakistan. The image below states the plan for Pakistan and India. 

However, the Indian military longed to make quick gains in East Pakistan, so that they could isolate Dhaka, the capital of Eastern Pakistan quickly. This was on the East side, but on the west side, the Indian military wished to take the defensive side. Well, it was clear to both states that pressure from the international market would decrease the timeline of battle.

Indian Defense Forces knew the importance of Rahim Yar Khan so the 12th Indian Infantry Division planned an attack on Islamgarh, followed by Bagla to capture Rahim Yar Khan. This plan would help weaken the strength of Pakistan in Punjab and Kashmir, helping India win. 

Also Read- Indo-Pak War 1965: Highlights, Dates & Outcomes

Battle Course

The Battle of Longewala was a night-time surprise attack by Pakistan on a small Indian outpost. Despite being outnumbered, the Indian defenders did not leave the ground throughout the night, inflicting heavy damage on Pakistani tanks with Projector, Infantry, Anti Tank (PIATs), and a recoilless rifle. Pakistani infantry attacks were stalled by barbed wire and confusion caused by burning fuel tanks.

Detection and Decision:

  • An Indian patrol first detected signs of a large Pakistani armored army approaching.
  • Major Chandpuri requested reinforcements but was offered a tactical retreat instead.
  • He chose to stand his ground and fight back.

The Pakistani army made the first attack. Pakistani artillery bombarded the outpost, destroying several camels. Indian troops hastily laid anti-tank mines as the enemy advanced. The Indian infantry held fire until Pakistani tanks were close range before engaging with PIATs and a recoilless rifle.

Major Major Kuldip Singh Chandpuri, Source- Rediff

Stalemate and Confusion:

  • The initial attack stalled due to barbed wire and the belief of a minefield.
  • Pakistani infantry attacks failed due to open terrain, Indian fire, and confusion caused by burning fuel tanks.
  • Since it was nighttime the Pakistani movement was slow, allowing the Indian defence to hold strong.

With dawn approaching, the Indian Air Force entered the fight. Newly formed Squadron 122, led by Wing Commander Conquest, comprised of Marut and Hunter jets, arrived to bolster the beleaguered outpost. Lacking night vision equipment, they were forced to wait until daylight. However, with clear skies, the IAF used a Forward Air Controller in a Krishak observation plane to pinpoint Pakistani targets. The jets unleashed a devastating attack with rockets and cannons, facing minimal resistance. The Pakistani Air Force’s absence and the limited range of their anti-aircraft guns left their tanks and vehicles exposed on the open terrain, making them easy targets in what IAF officers later described as a “turkey shoot.” Longewala’s successful defence prevented Pakistan from advancing further and is considered a turning point in the 1971 war.

End of the Battle:

  • By the next day, the battle collapsed.
  • Pakistan lost 36 tanks, and numerous vehicles, and suffered heavy casualties.
  • Indian counter-offensive with tanks and infantry forced the Pakistani withdrawal.

Also Read- List of Important Battles In Indian History

Significance of the Battle of Longewala

India won the battle of Longewala with the help of the Indian army and Indian Air Force. Following are the significance of the battle. 

  • The successful defense of Longewala prevented Pakistan from making further advances into India.
  • This ensured a continued focus on the Eastern front, leading to the fall of Dhaka and ultimately Pakistan’s surrender.
  • The battle is seen as a turning point in the 1971 war, with British media drawing comparisons to the legendary stand at Thermopylae.
  • Major Kuldip Singh Chandpuri, the Indian commander, received the Maha Vir Chakra, India’s second-highest gallantry award.
  • Multiple soldiers from the defending company and battalion were also decorated for their bravery.


Who won the Battle of Longewala?

India won the battle of Longewala because of the Punjab Battalion commanded by Major Kuldip Singh Chandpuri. 

How many Indian soldiers died in the Battle of Longewala in 1971?

Only 2 personnel were killed along with 1 Jonga and an M40 recoilless rifle destroyed and
5 camels killed.

Who was the hero of the Battle of Longewala in 1971?

The hero of the Battle of Longewala was Brigadier Kuldip Singh Chandpuri MVC, VSM. 

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With this, we come to the end of the Battle of Longewala. For more content related to the different battles fought in India, visit our articles like this, you can get Study notes on the Modern History of India here. Also, you can visit our general knowledge page on Indian History

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