Arun Shridhar Vaidya
A S Vaidya
|Born||27 July 1926|
Alibag, Kolaba District, Bombay Presidency, British India
(now in Raigad District, Maharashtra, India)
|Died||10 August 1986|
Pune, Maharashtra, India
|Allegiance|| British India|
|Service/|| British Indian Army|
|Years of service||1944 - 1986|
|Service number||IEC-11597 (emergency commission)|
IC-1701 (regular commission)
|Unit||9th Deccan Horse|
|Commands held|| Eastern Army|
16 (Independent) Armoured Brigade
|Battles/wars||World War II |
Operation Blue Star
|Awards|| Padma Vibhushan (posthumous)|
Param Vishisht Seva Medal
Maha Vir Chakra (Bar)
Ati Vishisht Seva Medal
General Arunkumar Shridhar Vaidya PVSM, MVC & Bar, AVSM, ADC (27 July 1926 – 10 August 1986) was a General Officer in the Indian Army. He served as the 13th Chief of the Army Staff from 1983 to 1986. In a distinguished career spanning over four decades and three wars, he was decorated twice with the Maha Vir Chakra (MVC) - the nation's second-highest gallantry award. He is one of only six recipients of the bar to the MVC in the Indian Armed Forces. Following his retirement, he was assassinated by militants in August 1986.
Family and early life
Vaidya was born in Bombay on 27 January 1926 to a Marathi Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu (CKP) family, the son of Shridhar Balkrishna Vaidya CIE, a barrister and sometime district collector of Surat, and his wife Indira. After his early education at Pune, Vaidya studied at Elphinstone High School in Bombay before joining Elphinstone College and later the M. I. B. College at Surat, presumably transferring due to his father's posting there as district collector.
At Elphinstone College, Vaidya joined the 1st Bombay Battalion of the University Training Corps (UTC) and was awarded Best Cadet in 1942 before transferring to the MIB College, where he also joined its UTC and attained the rank of Company Quarter-Master Havildar (CQMH). On 30 March 1944, he joined the Officers' Training School at Belgaum as a cadet. He was selected for the Armoured Corps and underwent further training at Ahmednagar, receiving an emergency commission in the Royal Deccan Horse (later the 9th Deccan Horse) of the British Indian Army on 20 January 1945. Vaidya fought in the Burma Campaign with the 14th Army during the final months of the Second World War, including at the battles of Meiktila and Rangoon.
His wife's name was Bhanu and they had three daughters.
Early army career
Vaidya received an emergency commission in the Indian Armoured Corps on 20 October 1945, with the service number IEC-11597, and received a regular army commission as a lieutenant on 7 May 1947 (seniority from 20 April 1947), a few months before India's independence.
In September 1948, Vaidya was involved in Operation Polo as a member of the ad-hoc armoured force organised from the Armoured Corps Centre and School. The force captured the Daulatabad Fort, the Ellora Caves area and Parbhani. In 1958, he was selected to attend the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, having secured a competitive vacancy. He was subsequently appointed brigade major of the 70 Infantry Brigade. He served in this appointment in Ladakh during the Sino-Indian War in 1962.
1965 Indo-Pak war
Vaidya was promoted lieutenant-colonel on 10 June 1965, shortly before war broke out between India and Pakistan that year. He was in command of the Deccan Horse. During the time, he was instrumental in saving the Command Trucks and fleeing Divisional Headquarters through his tanks through an encirclement by Pakistan Army's 6th Armoured Division at the Battle of Chawinda which resulted in destruction of Pakistan's 1st Armoured Division and heavy loss of Pakistani lives. 70 tanks were destroyed of which 38 tanks were decimated by the Deccan Horse. The regiment won 22 gallantry awards and Vaidya as the Commandant was awarded India's second highest military decoration, the Maha Vir Chakra (MVC). He was awarded the MVC in an investiture ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhavan by the President of India Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan on 21 April 1966.
Maha Vir Chakra Citation
Gazette Notification: 9 Pres/66,1-1-66
Operation: Date of Award: 16 September 1965
LIEUTENANT COLONEL ARUNKUMAR SHRIDHAR VAIDYA (IC-1701)THE DECCAN HORSE (9th HORSE)
Lieutenant Colonel Arun Shridhar Vaidya was in command of Deccan Horse in the series of actions fought by his unit from the 6 to 11 September 1965 in Asal Uttar and Cheema (Punjab) in the operations against Pakistan.
In the battle he showed inspiring leadership and remarkable resourcefulness in organising his unit and fighting against heavy odds and inflicted severe casualties on the Patton tanks of the enemy.
With untiring effort he moved from sector to sector with complete disregard for his personal safety thereby inspiring his troops by his personal example. He was instrumental to a large extent in stemming thrusts by enemy armour in the battle of Asal Uttar and later at Cheema and delivered effective blows to the enemy tanks on 10 -11 September.
Between the wars
On 21 July 1969, he was promoted to the rank of Brigadier and appointed Commander of 167 Mountain Brigade. Under him, the brigade conducted operations against the Naga hostiles who were backed by China. Along with the leader, Mowu Angami, most of the hostiles were captured with their weapons and equipment. Vaidya was awarded the Ati Vishisht Seva Medal on 26 January 1970. On 2 November 1970, he was appointed Commandant of the Armoured Corps Centre and School at Ahmednagar.
1971 Indo-Pak war
During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, Vaidya was in command of an armored brigade in the Zafarwal sector on the western front. In the Battle of Chakra and Dahira, the hostile terrain was combined with minefields. He crossed through the minefield and moved forward. Thus the entire squadron was able to push through the lane and quickly deploy itself to meet the Pakistan Army's counter-attacks.
During the Battle of Basantar (known as Battle of Barapind in Pakistan) in the same conflict, he displayed skill and leadership in getting his tanks through deep minefields. For this he was awarded a second Maha Vir Chakra (known as the Bar to MVC).
Bar to Maha Vir Chakra Citation
The citation for the bar to the Maha Vir Chakra reads as follows:
Gazette Notification: 22 Pres/72,12-2-72
Operation: 1971 Date of Award: 05 December 1971
BRIGADIER ARUNKUMAR SHRIDHAR VAIDYA (IC-1701)THE DECCAN HORSE (9th HORSE)
Brigadier Arun Shridhar Vaidya was commander of an armoured brigade in the Zafanval sector during the operations against Pakistan on the Western Front. He moved his brigade swiftly to get to grips with the enemy, and took the enemy tanks by surprise. He employed his tanks relentlessly and aggressively and helped the division to maintain constant pressure and momentum of advance against the enemy. In the battle of Chakra and Dehira, the going was difficult due to deep minefield and terrain. In a cool and confident manner, Brigadier Vaidya undertook the crossing through the minefield. He personally moved forward, disregarding personal safety. Through his inspired leadership, the entire squadron pushed through the lane and quickly deployed itself to meet the enemy's counter-attacks. During the battle of Basantar he again displayed his professional skill and superb leadership. He got his tanks through one of the deepest minefields, expanded the bridgehead and repulsed a strong enemy counter attack. In this battle, 62 enemy tanks were destroyed.
Throughout, Brigadier Vaidya displayed outstanding courage, great professional skill, indomitable will, foresight and imagination in fighting against the enemy in keeping with the best traditions of the Army.
On 4 January 1973, Vaidya was promoted to the acting rank of major-general and appointed General Officer Commanding (GOC) the elite 1st Armoured Division. He was confirmed in the substantive rank of major-general on 1 April 1974. He subsequently moved to Army Headquarters as Director Military Operations (DMO). After a stint as DMO, he took over as the Master General of Ordnance at Army HQ.
Vaidya was promoted to lieutenant-general on 25 January 1980, with seniority from 16 August 1978. On 1 July 1980, he was appointed GOC IV Corps. He was also elected as Honorary ADC to the President of India. After a short tenure, he was promoted Army Commander and appointed General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Eastern Command on 3 May 1981.
Chief of Army Staff
On 31 July 1983, Vaidya became the 13th Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army, taking over from General K.V. Krishna Rao. The appointment was subject to controversy as the senior-most general, Lt Gen S K Sinha was super-ceded. Sinha was the Vice Chief of the Army Staff and was being groomed to take over as the next Chief. With the appointment of Vaidya as the 13th COAS, Sinha resined in protest.
Operation Blue Star
In 1984, Vaidya designed and supervised Operation Blue Star - a military operation ordered by Indira Gandhi, then Prime Minister of India, against militants commanded by Shabeg Singh, a former Officer of the Indian Army, under Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, Chief of Damdami Taksal, in June 1984 at the Harmandir Sahib complex. Bhindranwale was killed and all militants were cleared out of the temple complex.
He retired on 31 January 1986, one of India's most decorated officers. He had completed over 40 years of service.
As the principal organiser of Operation Blue Star, Vaidya was well aware of being a high-profile target for assassins, but never regretted his role, stating in a 1985 interview: "I do not see any difference in taking up arms against a foreign enemy or an enemy from within...one who takes up arms against his own brother-citizens, against his own Constitution and legally-constituted government is enemy enough, deserving the most ruthless punishment." Despite numerous death threats being sent to his offices in the months before his retirement, he remained equally calm about the very real danger to his life: "After seeing two wars I can't run away from danger. If a bullet is destined to get me, it will come with my name written on it."
Following Vaidya's retirement, he took up residence in Pune, India, where he built a three-bedroom bungalow for his retirement. Just six months later, on 10 August 1986, he was shot to death in his white Maruti 800, bearing Registration No. DIB 1437, while driving home from the market on Rajendrasinhji Marg, at around 11:45 a.m. According to police, four reportedly clean-shaven men pulled up alongside the car on motorcycles, with the lead assassin firing three shots into Vaidya through the driver's-side window; the first two bullets penetrated his brain and killed him instantly. His car steered towards a cyclist named Digamber Gaikwad, and the cycle was crushed, though the cyclist escaped unharmed, the general's car stopping in front of a compound wall. A third bullet struck Vaidya in the shoulder, with another striking his wife Bhanumati in the neck. His bodyguard, who was also in the car, was wounded by four bullets in his back and thighs. The bleeding general was carried to the Command Hospital in a passing green matador van, and was declared brought dead. The witnesses who deposed in court said that the assailants were clean shaven, but later in turban and beard in court.
According to Indian intelligence sources, Vaidya had been the number four assassination target on lists of Punjabi insurgents and he was one of several people killed in retaliation for Operation Blue Star. Vaidya was cremated in Pune with full military honours; in attendance were his wife, daughters Neeta Kochar, Parijat Belliappa and Tarini Vaidya, Union ministers V.P. Singh, V.N. Gadgil and Arun Singh, the three service chiefs, Governor of Maharashtra Shankar Dayal Sharma and Chief Minister of Maharashtra S.B. Chavan, along with over 50,000 other mourners.
Following the assassination, the Khalistan Commando Force issued a statement declaring that Vaidya had been killed in retaliation for the Golden Temple operation. The assassination shocked India, and security measures for senior military commanders, particularly for those who had taken part in Blue Star, were immediately stepped up. Local anti-Sikh rioting broke out in Pune and Mumbai after Vaidya's assassination; a number of people were stabbed and several Sikh-owned businesses were attacked.
In 1989, Sukhdev Singh Sukha and Harjinder Singh Jinda were sentenced to death for the killing. Despite admitting to the killing, they pleaded not-guilty, justifying their actions by stating that Vaidya was "guilty of a serious crime, the punishment for which could only be death". The two were executed on 9 October 1992.
Honours and awards
Dates of rank
|Insignia||Rank||Component||Date of rank|
|Second Lieutenant||British Indian Army||20 January 1945 (emergency)|
20 October 1945 (substantive)
|Lieutenant||British Indian Army||7 May 1947 (seniority from 20 April)|
|Lieutenant||Indian Army||15 August 1947[note 1]|
|Lieutenant||Indian Army||26 January 1950 (recommissioning and change in insignia)|
|Captain||Indian Army||20 October 1951|
|Major||Indian Army||20 October 1958|
|Lieutenant-Colonel||Indian Army||10 June 1965|
|Colonel||Indian Army||12 July 1968|
|Brigadier||Indian Army||21 July 1969|
|Major General||Indian Army||4 January 1973 (acting)|
1 April 1974 (substantive)
|Lieutenant-General||Indian Army||25 January 1980 (seniority from 16 August 1978)|
|Indian Army||31 July 1983|
- 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."
- "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 8 November 1952. p. 249.
- "DnaIndia mumbai report (Dec 2013)".
CKP as a community has been known for its "writing and fighting skills". Some prominent faces that it boasts as members are Baji Prabhu Deshpande, a fighter in Shivaji’s army, Ram Ganesh Gadkari, Marathi writer, B G Deshmukh, ex-chief secretary, Bal Thackeray, General Arun Kumar Vaidya, late army chief, and Tanuja and Smita Salaskar...
- "Nagpur Today (Nov 2014)".
Among the famous CKP people are – Balasaheb Thackeray and the entire clan; Mr. C.D. Deshmukh, India’s first Finance Minister and Governor of the RBI, film star Kajol’s mother Tanuja who is daughter of famous erstwhile actress Shobhana Samarth. Nutan was her sister. Admiral Tipnis, Chief of Indian Air force; General Vaidya and many more such luminaries.
- kule, mukund. "My Mumbai Ckp Community Alive". Maharashtra Times.
तर नंतरच्या काळात राम गणेश गडकरी, प्रबोधनकार ठाकरे, सी. डी. देशमुख, १९१२ साली मुंबई हायकोर्टाचे मुख्य न्यायाधीश असलेले महादेव चौबळ, मृणाल गोरे (मूळच्या मोहिले), अहिल्या रांगणेकर, बाळासाहेब ठाकरे, मेजर जनरल अरुणकुमार वैद्य, लेफ्टनंट दिलीप गुप्ते, हवाईदल प्रमुख अनिल टिपणीस, भारताचे एडिसन म्हणून ओळखले जाणारे शास्त्रज्ञ शंकर आबाजी भिसे, दत्ता ताम्हाणे, श्रीनिवास खळे, स्नेहप्रभा प्रधान, शोभना समर्थ, नूतन, नलिनी जयवंत, विजया मेहता अशा किती तरी व्यक्तींनी वेगवेगळ्या क्षेत्रांत सीकेपी समाजाचं नाव रोशन केलेलं आहे.
- Karandikar. "सीकेपी तितुका मेळवावा!". loksatta.
छत्रपती शिवाजी महाराजांचे सेनानी – बाजीप्रभू देशपांडे, मुरारबाजी देशपांडे, बाळाजी आवजी चिटणीस, खंडो बल्लाळ चिटणीस. मराठी साहित्यिक राम गणेश गडकरी, साहित्य संमेलनाच्या पहिल्या स्त्री अध्यक्षा कुसुमावती देशपांडे. अर्थशास्त्रज्ञ चिंतामणराव देशमुख. १९१२ मधील मुंबई हायकोर्टाचे मुख्य न्यायाधीश महादेव भास्कर चौबळ. राजकारणी दत्ता ताम्हाणे, बाळासाहेब ठाकरे, उद्धव ठाकरे, राज ठाकरे. माजी लष्कर प्रमुख अरुणकुमार वैद्य. हवाईदल प्रमुख अनिल टिपणीस. नाट्यसृष्टीच्या सर्वच दालनांच्या सर्वज्ञा विजया मेहता.मराठी आणि हिंदी चित्रपट सृष्टीतील सुमती गुप्ते, शोभना समर्थ, नूतन, तनुजा, नलिनी जयवंत, स्नेहप्रभा प्रधान. विविध २०० प्रकारचे वैज्ञानिक शोध लावणारे आणि ४० पेटंट्स नावावर असलेले आणि ज्यांना भारताचे एडिसन म्हटले जाते ते शास्त्रज्ञ शंकर आबाजी भिसे. संगीतातील फक्त एकच नाव घेतले पुरे आहे ते म्हणजे श्रीनिवास खळे. क्रिकेटपटू बाळू गुप्ते – सुभाष गुप्ते – नरेन ताम्हाणे. १९६५ च्या युद्धात अवघ्या २३ व्या वर्षी शाहिद झालेला लेफ्टनंट दिलीप गुप्ते, पत्रकार माधव गडकरी, आणखी कितीतरी….
- "No. 35586". The London Gazette. 5 June 1942. p. 2481.
- "Gen. A. S. Vaidya PVSM, MVC & Bar, AVSM" (PDF). Press Information Bureau of India - Archive. 1 August 1983. Retrieved 5 July 2020.
- Abidi, S. Sartaj Alam; Sharma, Satinder (2007). Services Chiefs of India. New Delhi: Northern Book Centre. pp. 72–73. ISBN 978-81-7211-162-5.
- S.Sartaj Alam Abidi; Satinder Sharma (2008). Services Chiefs of India. Northern Book Centre. p. 73. ISBN 9788172111625.
- "DEFENCE SERVICES STAFF COLLEGE" (PDF). pibarchive.nic.in. 6 May 1958.
- "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 11 March 1967. p. 178.
- "INVESTITURE CEREMONY AT RASHTRAPATI BHAVAN" (PDF). pibarchive.nic.in. 19 April 1966.
- "ARUNKUMAR SHRIDHAR VAIDYA | Gallantry Awards". gallantryawards.gov.in.
- "Awardee: Gen Arun Shridhar Vaidya, PVSM, MVC**, AVSM". twdi.in.
- "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 13 June 1970. p. 728.
- "GALLANTRY AND DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARDS FOR DEFENCE PERSONNEL" (PDF). pibarchive.nic.in. 25 January 1970.
- "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 26 December 1970. p. 1556.
- "Mahavir Chakra (MVC), Awardee: Gen Arun Shridhar Vaidya, PVSM, MVC**, AVSM @ TWDI". twdi.in.
- "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 31 March 1973. p. 404.
- "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 19 April 1975. p. 553.
- "GENERAL VAIDYA APPOINTED CORPS COMMANDER" (PDF). pibarchive.nic.in. 1 July 1980.
- "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 12 July 1980. p. 770.
- January 31, DILIP BOBB; December 31, DILIP BOBB; July 2, DILIP BOBB; Ist, DILIP BOBB. "Lt-General S.K. Sinha affair: Questions asked about political interference in the army". India Today.
- "IN BRIEF; Indian General Who Raided Temple Is Slain". The New York Times. 17 August 1986.
- "Operation Bluestar, 20 Years On". Rediff.com.
- "General Arunkumar Sridhar Vaidya". Bharat-Rakshak.com. Archived from the original on 10 January 2014.
- Rahman, M. (31 August 1986). "Former army chief General A.S. Vaidya assassinated by Sikh militants in Pune". India Today.
- Associated Press. "Shrine Leader Killed in Ambush", The Dallas Morning News, 11 August 1986.
- Weisman, Steven R. "A Top Indian General is Assassinated", Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 11 August 1986.
- Sun-Times Wires. "Sikhs kill ex-army chief, massacre revenge hinted", Chicago Sun-Times, 11 August 1986.
- STATE OF MAHARASHTRA V. SUKHDEO SINGH & ANR  RD-SC 169 (15 July 1992)
- Associated Press. "General cremated; Sikhs admit to killing", c/o Houston Chronicle, 11 August 1986.
- "The Vaidya Murder Case: Confirming Death Sentences", India Abroad. (New York edition). New York, N.Y.: 24 July 1992. Vol.XXII, Issue. 43; pg.20.
- "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.
- "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 11 February 1950. p. 227.
- "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 20 December 1958. p. 284.
- "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 28 February 1970. p. 291.
Oscar Stanley Dawson
| Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee
1 December 1984 – 31 January 1986
Radhakrishna Hariram Tahiliani
Kotikalapudi Venkata Krishna Rao
| Chief of Army Staff
E A Vas
| General Officer-Commanding-in-Chief Eastern Command
1981 - 1983
K Chiman Singh