Lt Gen J.F.R. Jacob, Hero Of 1971 Indo-Pak War, Passes Away

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2:27 pm 13 Jan, 2016

Lt Gen Jack Farj Rafael Jacob, one of the heroes of the 1971 Indo-Pak War, passed away in the morning today.

He was 93. Born in a Jewish family in Kolkata, Lt Gen Jacob joined the British Indian Army and was posted in North Africa during the World War II to counter General Erwin Rommel’s Afrika Korps.

 

Post the Partition, Jeke, as he was popularly called, was instrumental in creating the manual for Indian Army’s desert operations. But it was the 1971 war that made him a very popular military figure in the country.

 

 

He was the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Eastern Command when the war broke out. He was a Major General at the time and was under the direct command of Lt Gen Jagjit Singh Aurora.

 

 

He was one of the Indian officers in iconic photograph taken at the time of Pakistani Lt Gen A.A.K. Niazi signing the instrument of surrender before the Indian Army troops.

With Jacob’s demise, all senior officers, including Lt Gen Niazi, in this photo are no more.

 

The famous photo of Lt Gen AAK Niazi signing the instrument of surrender in the presence of Lt Gen Jagjit Singh Aurora (circled bottom left), while Jacob looks on (circled top right).

The famous photo of Lt Gen AAK Niazi signing the instrument of surrender in the presence of Lt Gen Jagjit Singh Aurora (circled bottom left), while Jacob looks on (circled top right).

It was Jacob who advised that the Indian Army should bypass all intermediary towns in Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) and directly launch an assault on Dhaka.

General Sam Manekshaw approved of his advice and, coupled with Manekshaw’s own guile, Dhaka fell to Indian Armed forces.

 

 

In his two books, ‘Surrender at Dacca: Birth of a Nation’ and ‘An Odyssey in War and Peace: An Autobiography Lt Gen. J.F.R. Jacob’, he gives a graphic account of the 1971 war and describes how the Indian Army continued to move inside marshy swamplands of Bangladesh against the Pakistani Army and eventually won the war.


 

Prime Minister Modi and Jacob showing the latter's books to the media. NarendraModi.in

Prime Minister Modi and Jacob showing the latter’s books to the media. NarendraModi.in

Jacob became a hero when he was able to convince Lt Gen Niazi into surrendering. After seeking permission from his superiors, Jacob flew to the Pakistani camp and met Niazi.

The Hamidur Rehman report says that when Niazi was asked why he surrendered, he told them “General Jacob blackmailed me! He threatened to hand us over to the Bahini, and that they would bayonet us”.

 

Lt Gen JFR Jacob with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the three service chiefs. NarendraModi.in

Lt Gen JFR Jacob with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the three service chiefs. NarendraModi.in

Jacob later said that he never said such a thing though he was alone with a staff officer and completely unarmed in a Pakistani camp in the middle of a siege from Mukti Bahini.

Jacob received a commendation of merit for his role in the 1971 war.

Post-retirement, he served as Governor, first in Goa and then in Punjab.

 

 

When the BJP government came to power and subsequent establishment of diplomatic relations with Israel, Jacob played an active role in building stronger defence cooperation between the two countries.

 

In an interview with Times of Israel some four years ago, Jacob remarked that he was very proud to be an Indian.

“The only place I encountered anti-Semitism was from the British in their army,” he says. “Among Indians it does not exist.”

 

 

When he was asked whether he would offer his military expertise to Israel, Jacob proudly said that though he is proud to be a Jew, he was “Indian through and through”.

“I was born in India and served here my whole life; this is where I want die,” he had said.

 

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