Remembering Field Marshal KM Cariappa, The Man Feared By Jawaharlal Nehru And Indira Gandhi!
Read everything about the first Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army, Field Marshal KM Cariappa!
Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and his daughter, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi have both gone down in Indian history as two of the most iconic leaders the country has had since its Independence. Both of them in their periods made many changes to the country that resulted in the development and its higher position at the international stage. But did you know that they were both afraid of one person? It was Field Marshal Km Cariappa, the first Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army!
Cariappa is one of the few army men to hold five stars in his career and the day he swore in as the Commander-in-chief, which is January 15th, was marked as Army Day in the country! Hailing from Coorg, Karnataka, Cariappa was not a man who was good at speaking Hindi but he let his work do all the talking. Before he led the entire Indian Army, he was one of the key persons to hold the Western front in the India-Pakistan war in 1947. He was known to be a man of principles and who was pivotal in removing caste and creed in the Army. He is also known to have kept the Army at a safe distance from politics as well.
The story of how he became Commander-in-chief is interesting. There was a meeting being held at which the first Prime Minister, Nehru was present along with many other big army personnel. They were discussing the appointment of the Commander-in-chief’s post. Nehru was of the opinion that since no one in India has the experience of leading an army the job would be given to a British. Everyone in the meeting was too afraid to say anything against the Prime Minister so they all agreed. Except for one man! One man raised his voice and pointed out that it was also the first time for an Indian to lead a democracy. Does that mean a British man should do it? This is what Lt. General Nathu Singh Rathore said. Then Nehru asked him if he was ready to be the Commander of the Army to which Lt. General Rathore humbly declined but said that there was someone among them who was capable of the post and it was none other than KM Cariappa!
KM Cariappa was known to be fair and treated each army man like his son. Many years after he had retired, in 1965, his son K.C.Cariappa, a Squadron Leader in the Air Force was flying over Pakistan when he was shot down and captured. The Pakistani soldiers prodded the 36-year-old for his name and his rank but he did not reveal his connection with his father (who was a retired General at that point). It was many hours later that the Pakistanis found out about the connection and he was interrogated that he revealed his connection with his father. This news reached the ears of General Ayub Khan and he immediately announced on the radio that Pakistan had KM Cariappa’s son in their custody. Ayub Khan had worked under KM Cariappa before the partition and shared a good relationship with him. He was willing to have a talk with the retired general and send his son back to India as a special gesture.
But KM Cariappa would not have it. He told the Pakistani officials to actually not send his son back! He did not want to give his son any special treatment. KC Cariappa was later sent back with the other soldiers as a normal soldier!
Recently Amry Cheif Bipin Rawat has asked the government to confer Field Mashal KM Cariappa with the Bharat Ratna. It is to be known that the Field Marshal died in Bangalore in 1993 at the age of 94!
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