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- A Unique Postal History of Indo-Pak War 1971
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A Unique Postal History of Indo-Pak War 1971
Chachro town situated in between 70’ & 72’ longitude and 24’ & 26’ latitude in the district Tharparkar of Sindh province forms a part of Pakistan since 14th August 1947. During the Indo-Pak war in the year 1971, a portion of Tharparkar including Chachro, was occupied by the Indian Army and the area remained under the control of Indian Army till 22nd December 1972.
It really happened when India was attacked by Pakistan at about 5.45pm, on 3rd December 1971. Pakistan Air Force attacked a number of airfields in both the Western and Eastern Parts of India, including Amritsar, Pathankot, Srinagar, Awantipur, Jodhpur, Ambala and Agra. The same evening the Pakistani army attacked on Kashmir and Punjab. It also launched armored infantry operation to secure Ramgarh, Jaisalmer in Rajasthan. In Kashmir, the operations were concentrated on two key points, Punch and Chamb.
The Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi was in Calcutta at that time she returned immediately to New Delhi. The President Shri V V Giri declared Emergency. At midnight Smt. Indira Gandhi in a broadcast to the nation declared that India was at war with Pakistan.
Here, I am narrating the story of Chachro only. Chachro town was a very important communication centre of Pakistan. Its history is traceable from 644 A.D. Early on 4th December 1971, India launched its attack into East Pakistan and on 5th December 1971 into West Pakistan. Elite Commando troops of the Parachute regiment raided on Chachro on the night of December 5th. The Unit was based at Sarupkatala, south west of Barmer town. By the day light, the commandos neutralized all threats and cleared the enemy from Chachro. It was discovered that a major chunk of the Pakistani force had escaped earlier. However 17 prisoners and a huge number of small arms were captured. After that one group proceeded to raid the town of Virawah. By evening Virawah was taken over. Actually this was the biggest territorial conquest in terms of territory.
On 16th December a ceasefire was enforced in the Eastern theatre when Pakistani Forces in East Pakistan surrendered to the Indian Army. On the same evening a ceasefire was also enforced in the Western theatre.
Immediately after the ceasefire, India claimed the occupation of about 3600sq. kilometers of West Pakistan territory in the district of Tharparkar in the Province of Sindh. Soon thereafter, an Indian Sub Post office was opened at Chachro being EXPTL. P.O. No. J-519. My earliest example is dated 13th March 1972 which was posted by Mr. H. S. Bhati, the then S.P.M. of Chachro.
Within a few months name Canceller was allotted to Chachro. My example is dated 10th July 1972, posted by Mr. Pyarelal the then S.P.M. of Chachro.
The Postal Index Number (PIN) was introduced in India on & from 15th August 1972. Therefore a PIN was allotted to Chachro being No. 344503. My example is dated 26th September 1972. There also existed Army Post office (F.P.O. 1932) and A.P.O. was responsible for carrying mail in between India and Chachro.
All letters from Chachro, which are in my collection, are addressed to Shri B. J. Kumar of Kanpur. Shri B. J. Kumar was an ardent philatelist. According to him, Chachro Sub Post Office was opened on 11th January 1972 and closed on 15th December 1972.
Chachro was handed over to Pakistan on 22nd December 1972, following the Shimla Pact of 1972.
Mail from Chachro of Pakistan which remained under control of Indian Army from 16th December 1971 to 22nd December, 1972 is a unique piece of Postal History.
Happy Hunting !
Contributed by Ashok Kumar Bayanwala, Ahmedabad