The Retreat from Sela
D.K. Palit
THE UNFUGHT WAR OF 1962 by Lt. Colonel J.R. Saigal Allied Publishers, New Delhi, 1979, 180 pp., 30.00
May-June 1979, volume 3, No 6

On the evening of November 17,1962, between seven o’clock and eleven o’clock, three senior General Officers sat in the Operations Room of HQ IV Corps at Tezpur, arguing among themselves endlessly whether four Infantry Division should be ordered to withdraw from Sela without offering battle. The three Generals were: the Chief of the Army Staff; the Eastern Army Commander; and the Corps Com­mander. It was the Army Commander who recommended immediate retreat, a recommendation that the senior General Staff Officer present strongly decried and persuaded the Army Chief to discount­enance. At one stage, in the confusion, a signal was in fact sent out over the wireless giving 4 Division permission to withdraw. When questioned, not one of the Generals owned up to having authorized this signal; so it was stopped halfway (at the relay station) though news of it may have filtered through the Signals channel. It was not until 11 p.m. that the Corps Commander spoke to General Pathania, commanding 4 Division, over the tele­phone and coaxingly advised him ‘not to withdraw tonight’.

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