Lt Gen Zorawar Chand Bakshi, PVSM, MVC, VrC, VSM (1921-2018)

ZCBakshi01Indian Army Lost a Gallant Solider On 24th May 2018. Zoru as he was called by his seniors and colleagues, we younger generation of the Regiment 5th Gorkha Rifles (Frontier Force) used to quietly also refer to him as Zoru, but otherwise also as General Zoru Bakshi, completed a page of Braves of Indian Army. If you asked him to what Regiment he belonged, before 1980, he would say SECOND FIVE; a diehard Second Fiver (Second Battalion the Fifth Gurkha Rifles (Frontier Force) till he was elected as Colonel of the Regiment in 1980.

My memory of General Zoru Bakshi goes to 1963, when as a Second Lieutenant, I was asked to get a stand made by the Unit Carpenter for a Big Elephant Tusk presented on behalf of Lt Col ZC Bakshi And All Ranks 2/5 GR (FF). Well the tusk reminded us of his Command of Second Five in Congo specially to rein in Sargent Muboto of Katanga. The tusk remained in that form, perched on that improvised stand of Ghale Carpenter Guruji (He was older and was referred to as Guruji by men as well as we youngesters), till it fell upon me again in 1983 to think of a better Stand; so it was. It may be of interest to know that MacGregor Medal (1949) was awarded to him for a secret mission to Lhasa, disguised as a Buddhist monk, when he undertook a reconnaissance, trekking from Nathu La (East Sikkim) to Gyantse and Lhasa; a distance of over 400 km in 80 days.

Just after 1965 War we all were euphorious that Uri has been connected with Poonch; kind Courtesy Brig ZC Bakshi and his 68 Infantry Brigade, that had captured Haji Pir Pass, as a riposte to Pakistan’s Operation Gibraltar. I must admit that Gen Zoru Bakshi’s Haji Pir capture is a historical moment in many ways. The operation prompted FM Ayub’s foray into Chamb and further full fledged 1965 war; a history. We used to refer to his brigade as Bakarwal brigade as it used to move in and out of valley, till it found permanent place in the valley. Literally the Bakarwal Brigade stood by its name and moved along the unchartered routes from Uri to Poonch. Finally he drove the jeep on that road to reach Poonch. And how could he forget the new Battalion in us; Four Five. He visited us at Keri(Sarol) and seniors were asking him about his Haji Pir Operation; while we youngsters listened to him; with pride.

I recall in 1969 we had to elect a Colonel Of The Regiment (Literally the head of the Regiment 5th Gorkha Rifles (Frontier Force). There were four senior contenders; two Lieutenant Generals, Two Major Generals and he was the only Brigadier. I was carrying a letter from a senior officer from the Regiment to ask my CO, to support senior most Lieutenant General, an MVC awardee and expected to be Army Commander. The second Lieutenant General was also MC awardee. No way; the Battalions stood like a rock and Brigadier ZC Bakshi MVC, Vr C, VSM, Mcgr M was elected almost by all the six Battalions.

I recall his Letter to our Commanding Officer after Daring Khukri Attack by my and another Company on 20/21 November, in then East Pakistan. He by name mentioned his congratulations to me and my colleague Dinesh and had asked the Commanding Officer to show this letter to us, which he did amidst the war. In 1977, I was Brigade Major and he visited us in an High Altitude Area and spent some precious time with me, telling me about the area where he had served (Kazinag), in early fifties as Commanding Officer of Second Five. Modest; I recall that in 1986 there was centenary celebration of Battalion Second Five at Dehradun. Of course he was there. I had been invited as Commanding Officer of sister Battalion. Modest as he was, I could not believe when from a distance I saw him and Late General SK Sinha struggling to accommodate themselves at the back of small willy’s jeep, while a retired senior and older colonel of the battalion sat in the front seat.


1966- At Keri. Also seen Gen's Cardozo, Mehta, Pathania, Gen (Then Brig) Zoru Bakshi, Harish Bakshi.   Captain Rattan Kaul (Self) sitting 2nd from left

In 1991 he visited War College Mhow for a Lecture, I was there as Instructor and he was invited for customary get together lunch. Though there were many senior officers, he took me aside to the Bar, both of us perched on bar stool sipping beer, he narrated some of the events of the his life, the officers around him and the privilege of having fought in the world famous Battle of Kohima 1944, as a young officer with just a year of service, with his parent Battalion 12 Baluch, now part of Pakistan Army.

Well he was a great and lucky General too, who had the privilege of having two worlds highest and coveted award VICTORIA CROSS holders in Hony Captain Agan Singh Rai, VC and Hony Captain Gaje Ghale in the Battalion.

Today (26th May) when me and my wife attended prayer meeting for Late General Zoru Bakshi, I recalled these few personal moments of his association, of a youngster of 1963, I cherish till this moment when I stood in front of his photographs today.

Home Personnel Tributes Lt Gen Zorawar Chand Bakshi, PVSM, MVC, VrC, VSM (1921-2018)