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OPERATION ERAZE


The assault and capture of Gurez (Northern Kashmir) by the Indian Army during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947 was code named Operation Eraze. The importance of Gurez was well known, being an important communication centre of the region. The Srinagar route approached and crossed the Kishenganga River in the vicinity of Gurez and Dawar and then extended towards Gilgit via the Burzil pass and the Astor valley. Muzaffarabad also, through a track along the river valley connected to Gurez, and Sonmarg axis was attached to Gurez via cross-country tracks.


On capture of Muzaffarabad, the tribal lashkars advanced towards Gurez along the Kishenganga valley, however, they were beaten back and sent off to Gurez by the operations of 161 Infantry Brigade in the winter of 1947. The lashkars were strengthened by Pakistani regular troops from the Gilgit Scouts and deserters from the princely State Forces. While waiting for the summers, the enemy forces planned to target Tragbal just north of Bandipore and entered the Kashmir valley.  It was 2nd Battalion, Bihar Regiment which was tasked to advance to contact on 15 April 1948 along Bandipore - Kanzalwan - Gurez axis. The raiders were beaten back yet again to the Rajdhan’s pass by the bold attack. 1st Battalion, Indian Grenadiers replaced the battalion in May 1948.


The capture of Rajdhan Pass by 1st Grenadiers before the enemy made Maj Gen K. S. Thimayya, the 'General Officer Commanding' of the Srinagar Division confident of executing a Spring offensive to counter the Pakistani battle designs. The capture of Gurez was codenamed Operation Eraze. Indian forces were reinforced by the 2nd Battalion, 4 Gorkha Rifles in Tragbal and two companies of 2/4 GR were poised to advance on 24 June along the axis, in order to hold the enemy and deceive him of the direction of the main attack planned to be launched on 25 June by the 1st Grenadiers supported by Patiala Mountain Battery. Ruthless bravery and boldness was displayed by the troops of the 1st Grenadiers, in fighting off a seemingly invincible blizzard on the night of 26/27 June while advancing along a foot track through Viju Gali. The soldiers managed to bring up the guns, outflank the enemy and push him off the ridge and capture Gurez on 28 June.


In a parallel time frame, two companies of 2/4 Gorkha Rifles managed to successfully advance and push back the enemy from Kanzalwan. The Pakistani reorganised themselves and proceeded to isolate the Gorkha picquets. This increased the threat to road to Rajdhan pass vulnerable to attack. A quick attack from Gurez on 26 July failed to capture Kanzalwan. A two-pronged attack was launched by 1st Grenadiers on night of 29 July. The Gorkhas in the meantime managed to drive away the enemy and capture one of the dominating heights over Kanzalwan. The concerted attack coupled with third dimension assault by the Indian Air Force made the raiders flee westwards towards Taobat, which ensured a stable situation for further progression of operations.

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