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Air Marshal (Retd) Cariappa Recollects His Days as Prisoner of War

Air Marshal (Retd) Cariappa Recollects His Days as Prisoner of War

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Video Editor: Mohammad Irshad Alam

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He was a young Flight Lieutenant, when he was shot down in Pakistan, on 22 September 1965. Even though he is the son of Field Marshal Cariappa, one of the most celebrated generals of the Indian army, when he saw Pakistani troops running towards him after his parachute had landed, he knew his life as a Prisoner of War (PoW) wasn’t going to be easy.

Talking to The Quint, retired Air Marshal KC Cariappa shared the stories from his time as a PoW.

“I was shot down on the last day of the war, 22 September 1965. I was attacking a military position, when my aircraft was shot up by ground fire. I was flying very low and very fast. I had to eject immediately,” he said.

In the hard landing, he injured his back. Soon he could see troops running towards him. “They were wearing Khaki, so I was not too sure whether they were Indians or Pakistanis. But soon, Indian artillery opened up and one of the guys asked me if those were Indian guns. Then I realised I was a prisoner of war,” Cariappa remembered.

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With a back injury, he couldn’t move, so he was taken on a stretcher to brigade headquarters nearby. Ironically, that building was the target he was to bomb. He was taken to a field hospital in Lulyani and then to Lahore.

“I spent most of my time in solitary confinement. During this time, then army chief of Pakistan came to visit me. He asked if there is anything I wanted, I said I wanted to be with the other Indian PoW. And soon, I was shifted,” he said.

He was put on a train to the main PoW camp, a fort called Dargai in the north west frontier, where he met other PoW for the first time. He spent close to five months in PoW camps, before he was repatriated to India.

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