A unique and typically Indian struggle wrested freedom for the country from the British Crown at midnight on 14/15 August 1947. With freedom, came also the partition of the country and the birth of Pakistan. Britain withdrew from the subcontinent with some grace, but in haste.

At the moment of independence, the old Indian Army stood divided between the Dominions of Pakistan and India. In the meantime, demobilization had commenced with vigour, and by June 1947 the active strength of the Army stood at some 500,000. Finally, 400,000 men, and countrywide movable and immovable assets were shared under a complicated scheme supervised by a British presence in the form of a Supreme Headquarters.

All this was done under heart-rending conditions of turmoil and strife in the Punjab and Bengal. The level of violence had reached civil war proportions and had to be contained rapidly. The Punjab Boundary Force came into being for this thankless task. It had elements of the Armies of both Dominions spread thinly on the ground and was hard put to contain the increasing levels of violence. This was to be the last time that the old Indian Army deployed as one body.


There were bound to be difficulties in consolidating the loosely federated Indian Provinces, Princely States, etc., into one homogeneous whole. The 575-odd Princely States except three, merged without fuss. Junagadh (now in Gujarat), Hyderabad (now in Andhra Pradesh), and Kashmir proved trouble-some. The Army had to be employed in Junagadh and Hyderabad to consolidate these states in the Indian Union whereas Kashmir after initial dithering acceded to India voluntarily and by popular consent when Pakistani raiders entered the Kashmir Valley in October 1947. In Junagadh it was a simple brigade-level confidence-building measure and the state acceded to the Union. Hyderabad dallied for one year attempting to declare independence outside the Indian Union. In September 1948, a short 100-hour engagement was forced on the Army (at that time heavily engaged in Kashmir). 1 Armoured Division, commanded by Major General IN Chaudhuri one of the few formations available, along with some infantry units attached to it, entered the state and settled matters with minimal force.