Jagjit Singh Aurora

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Jagjit Singh Aurora

Gen. Niazi (Pakistan) surrenders to Gen. Jagit Singh Aurora (India).png
Aurora (left) taking Pakistani instrument of surrender in 1971
Born(1916-02-13)13 February 1916
Kala Gujran, Jhelum District, Punjab, British India (now in Punjab, Pakistan)
Died3 May 2005(2005-05-03) (aged 89)
New Delhi, India
Allegiance British India
Service/branch British Indian Army
 Indian Army
Years of service1939-1973
RankLieutenant General of the Indian Army.svg Lieutenant General
Service numberIC-214[1]
Unit2nd Punjab Regiment (until 1947)
Punjab Regiment (after 1947)
Commands heldIA Eastern Command.jpg Eastern Army
Battles/warsBurma Campaign, World War II
Indo-Pakistani War of 1947
Sino-Indian War
Indo-Pakistani War of 1965
Nathu La and Cho La clashes
Indo-Pakistani War of 1971
AwardsParam Vishisht Seva Medal
Padma Bhushan
Bir Protik

Lieutenant General Jagjit Singh Aurora, PVSM[2] (also Jagjit Singh Arora)[1][3][note 1] (13 February 1916[note 2] – 3 May 2005) was an Indian Army General Officer who was the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (GOC-in-C) Eastern Command during the third war with Pakistan in 1971. He organised and led the ground forces campaign in the Eastern Front of the war, which led to an overwhelming defeat of the combined Pakistan Armed Forces in East-Pakistan that led to the creation of Bangladesh.[4]

As the General commanding the Indian and Bangladesh Forces in the Eastern theater, Gen Aurora received the surrender from the Governor of East Pakistan and Commander of the Eastern Command of the Pakistan Army, Lt Gen A. A. K. Niazi.

After retirement from the Indian Army, he joined Akali Dal and served as a Member of Parliament in the Rajya Sabha.

Early life[edit]

Jagjit Singh Aurora was born to a Sikh family in Kala Gujran, Jhelum District, Punjab, British India.[5] He was the son of an engineer.

Army career[edit]

Aurora graduated from the Indian Military Academy in 1939 and was commissioned into the 1st Battalion, 2nd Punjab Regiment on 1 February.[3] He saw action in the Burma Campaign during World War II.[6]

After Independence and the ensuing Partition of India, he opted to join the Indian Army and was a commissioned officer in the Punjab Regiment during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947.[7] On 3 February 1957, he was promoted acting Brigadier and given command of an infantry brigade.[8]

In May 1961, as BGS XXXIII Corps, Brigadier Aurora led a team of military officers and men sent by the Government of India on a reconnaissance mission to Bhutan. This later led to the establishment of the Indian Military Training Team in Bhutan.[9]

As a brigadier, he fought in the Sino-Indian War in 1962. He was appointed a division commander on 21 February 1963,[10] with a promotion to the rank of Major General on 20 June 1964.[11] He was then appointed Director of Military Training (DMT) on 23 November 1964.[12] He also participated in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965.

On 6 June 1966, Aurora was appointed Deputy Chief of the Army Staff (DCOAS) with the acting rank of Lieutenant General,[2] and was promoted substantive Lieutenant General on 4 August.[13] He was then given command of a General Officer Commanding (GOC) of a corps on 27 April 1967.[14] On 8 June 1969, he was appointed the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (GOC-in-C) Eastern Command.[15]

East Pakistan[edit]

Lt. Gen A. A. K. Niazi, Commanding Officer of Pakistan Army forces in East Pakistan signing the instrument of surrender on 16 December 1971 in the presence of Lt. Gen. Aurora

In March 1971, the Pakistan Army launched Operation Searchlight to curb the Bengali nationalist movement in East Pakistan. The operation resulted in commencement of the Bangladesh Liberation War which resulted in the Bangladesh genocide, including the systematic murder of Bengali intellectuals by the Pakistan Army. The ensuing violence led to almost 10 million Bengali refugees fleeing from East Pakistan into India. A spontaneous Bengali guerrilla force, the Mukti Bahini, was formed in response. This force along with the newly formed Bangladesh Forces, consisting of Bengali defectors from the Pakistan Army under the command of General Bangabir MAG Osmani, were engaged in escalating hostilities with the Pakistani Army.[16]

For the next nine months, with tensions escalating between India and Pakistan and anticipating possible hostilities, Aurora oversaw the logistical preparations of the Indian Army on the Eastern front, including the improvement of roads, communications and bridges, as well as the movement of 30,000 tons of supplies close to the border with East Pakistan.

At the outbreak of the war on 3 December 1971, as Eastern Army Commander, Gen. Aurora oversaw the Indian ground forces into battle in East Pakistan. In a meticulously planned operation, forces under Aurora's command formed numerous small combat teams and launched a four-front attack with the strategy of confronting and defeating the Pakistani forces on selected fronts, while bypassing Pakistani forces on others. In under two weeks, his forces advanced from the Indian border to capture Dhaka, the capital of East Pakistan.[17]

The Unified Commander of Pakistan Armed Forces's Eastern Military High Command, Lieutenant General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi was forced to sign an unconditional Instrument of Surrender. The photograph of Niazi and Aurora at the signing of the Instruments of Surrender became an iconic image of the war,[18] with The Guardian describing the scene as "the glum Pakistani officer bowed over his signature. The turbaned figure beside him, showing not a scrap of elation".[17] The 90,000 Pakistani troops under Niazi's command surrendered to Gen Aurora as prisoners of war in what remains to date the largest surrender of soldiers since the Second World War.[19][6] Pakistan lost almost 57,000 square miles (150,000 km2) of its territory and 70 million of its people to the newly formed nation of Bangladesh.

Later life[edit]

Aurora was honoured with the Param Vishisht Seva Medal, the Padma Bhushan and the Bir Protik[20] for his role in the war.[21] He retired from the Indian Army in 1973. Lt Gen JFR Jacob has written in his book An Odyssey in War And Peace that Gen. Aurora approached then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi for governorship of a state but she declined.[22][page needed] Jacob also writes that Gen. and Mrs. Aurora were a regular part of the social life of Calcutta.[23]

In 1984, Aurora fiercely criticised the Indian National Congress leadership following Operation Blue Star, which was an operation by the then government of flushing out armed Sikh militants who had taken up positions inside the Golden Temple in Amritsar but also caused extensive damage to the holiest shrine of Sikhism. Subsequently, he spent several years as a member of parliament in the Rajya Sabha, the upper House of the Indian Parliament, for the Akali Dal, a political party.

Aurora was also an active member of the Citizen's Justice Committee which provided pro bono assistance to Sikh victims of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.


Jagjit Singh Aurora died on 3 May 2005, at age 89, in New Delhi.[24] He was survived by a son and a daughter. After his death, the gratitude of Bangladesh to General Aurora was emphasized in a message to India, from Morshed Khan, the Bangladeshi Foreign Minister, stating: "Aurora will be remembered in the history of Bangladesh for his contribution during our war of liberation in 1971, when he led the allied forces."

The site of the Pakistani surrender, where Lt. Gen. Niazi signed the Instrument of Surrender with Lt. Gen. Aurora on 16 December 1971 has been converted into a national monument Swadhinata Stambha. The main attraction is the glass Stambha which is built on the precise location where the instrument of surrender was signed. The monument also includes an eternal flame, terracotta murals of martyrs and a body of water.

Dates of rank[edit]

Insignia Rank Component Date of rank
British Army OF-1a.svg Second Lieutenant British Indian Army 1 February 1939[3]
British Army OF-1b.svg Lieutenant British Indian Army 30 January 1940[25]
British Army OF-2.svg Captain British Indian Army 22 February 1940 (acting)[3]
5 February 1941 (temporary)[3]
1 May 1942 (war-substantive)[3]
30 January 1946 (substantive)[3]
British Army (1920-1953) OF-3.svg Major British Indian Army 1 February 1942 (acting)[3]
1 May 1942 (temporary)[3]
British Army OF-2.svg Captain Indian Army 15 August 1947[note 3][26]
Captain of the Indian Army.svg Captain Indian Army 26 January 1950 (recommissioning and change in insignia)[26]
Major of the Indian Army.svg Major Indian Army 26 February 1950 (temporary)
30 January 1951 (substantive)[1]
Lieutenant Colonel of the Indian Army.svg Lieutenant-Colonel Indian Army 30 January 1952[27]
Colonel of the Indian Army.svg Colonel Indian Army 1 August 1958[28]
Brigadier of the Indian Army.svg Brigadier Indian Army 3 February 1957 (acting)[8]
1962 (substantive)
Major General of the Indian Army.svg Major General Indian Army 21 February 1963 (acting)[10]
20 June 1964 (substantive)[11]
Lieutenant General of the Indian Army.svg Lieutenant-General Indian Army 6 June 1966 (acting)[2]
4 August 1966 (substantive)[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Both spellings are used in official documents; though "Aurora" predominates in the listings in the pre-Independence Indian Army List, as do those in the Gazette of India.
  2. ^ As given in the pre-Independence Indian Army List.
  3. ^ Upon independence in 1947, India became a Dominion within the British Commonwealth of Nations. As a result, the rank insignia of the British Army, incorporating the Tudor Crown and four-pointed Bath Star ("pip"), was retained, as George VI remained Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Armed Forces. After 26 January 1950, when India became a republic, the President of India became Commander-in-Chief, and the Ashoka Lion replaced the crown, with a five-pointed star being substituted for the "pip."


  1. ^ a b c "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 12 May 1951. p. 89.
  2. ^ a b c "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 16 July 1966. p. 413.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Indian Army List (Special Edition) 1947. Government of India Press. 1947. pp. 245–246.
  4. ^ "Homage to a Hero: Lt Gen J. S. Arora". Frontline. 17 June 2005. Retrieved 24 July 2011.
  5. ^ "Modesty in victory". The Tribune (Chandigarh). Indo-Asian News Service. 4 May 2005. Archived from the original on 18 May 2011. Retrieved 27 November 2016.
  6. ^ a b "Jagjit Singh Aurora, 89, Indian War Hero, Is Dead". The New York Times. 6 May 2005. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
  7. ^ "Punjab Regiment: Colonels of the Regiment". Indian Army. Retrieved 24 July 2011.
  8. ^ a b "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 30 March 1957. p. 76.
  9. ^ "Indian Military Training Team (IMTRAT), Bhutan". 19 June 2009. Archived from the original on 19 June 2009.
  10. ^ a b "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 13 April 1963. p. 123.
  11. ^ a b "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 12 September 1964. p. 371.
  12. ^ "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 19 December 1964. p. 509.
  13. ^ a b "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 15 October 1966. p. 628.
  14. ^ "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 24 June 1967. p. 496.
  15. ^ "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 19 July 1969. p. 663.
  16. ^ Raja, Dewan Mohammad Tasawwar (2010). O General My General. The Osmany memorial Trust. pp. 35–109. ISBN 978-984-8866-18-4.
  17. ^ a b "Obituary: Lt Gen Jagjit Singh Aurora". The Guardian. 11 May 2005. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
  18. ^ "Bangladesh honours Gen. Aurora". The Hindu. 22 May 2005. Archived from the original on 29 November 2014. Retrieved 21 November 2014.
  19. ^ Srinivasaraju, Sugata (21 December 2021). "The Bangladeshi liberation has lessons for India today". The Times of India. Retrieved 29 December 2021.
  20. ^ "Punjab Govt. to Confer Punjab 'Rattan Award'". SikhNet. 10 February 2011. Retrieved 4 March 2022.
  21. ^ "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 October 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  22. ^ Jacob, Lt. Gen J.F.R. (2011). An Odyssey In War And Peace. Delhi: Roli Books. ISBN 978-81-7436-933-8. Aurora approached Mrs Indira Gandhi, seeking to be appointed a governor. She declined.
  23. ^ Jacob, Lt. Gen J.F.R. (2011). An Odyssey In War And Peace. Delhi: Roli Books. ISBN 978-81-7436-933-8. Aurora soon became part of the social circuit.
  24. ^ "1971 war hero Lt General J S Aurora dead". The Times of India. 3 May 2005. Archived from the original on 13 July 2011. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
  25. ^ Indian Army List October 1945 (Part I). Government of India Press. 1945. pp. 243–244.
  26. ^ a b "New Designs of Crests and Badges in the Services" (PDF). Press Information Bureau of India - Archive. Archived (PDF) from the original on 8 August 2017.
  27. ^ "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 2 July 1955. p. 131.
  28. ^ "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 28 November 1959. p. 294.

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by Deputy Chief of the Army Staff
1966 - 1967
Succeeded by
Preceded by General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Eastern Command
1969 - 1973
Succeeded by