Arun Shridhar Vaidya

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Arun Shridhar Vaidya

General Arun Shridhar Vaidya.jpg
Born27 January 1926
Alibag, Kolaba District, Bombay Presidency, British India
(now in Raigad District, Maharashtra, India)
Died10 August 1986
Pune, Maharashtra, India
Allegiance British India
Service/branch British Indian Army
 Indian Army
Years of service1944 - 1986
RankGeneral of the Indian Army.svg General
Service numberIEC-11597 (emergency commission)
IC-1701 (regular commission)[1]
Unit9th Deccan Horse
Commands heldIA Eastern Command.jpg Eastern Army
16 (Independent) Armoured Brigade
Deccan Horse
Battles/warsWorld War II

Burma Campaign Indo-Pakistani War of 1965
Indo-Pakistani War of 1971
Battle of Basantar

Operation Blue Star
AwardsPadma Vibhushan
Param Vishisht Seva Medal
Maha Vir Chakra (Bar)
Maha Vir Chakra
Ati Vishisht Seva Medal

General Arunkumar Shridhar Vaidya[1] PVSM, MVC & Bar, AVSM (27 January 1926 – 10 August 1986) was the 13th Chief of Army Staff (COAS) of the Indian Army.


Vaidya was born to Shridhar B. Vaidya and his wife Indira in Bombay on January 27, 1926, his wife's name was Bhanu and they had three daughters.[2][3][4]

Joining the British Indian Army in 1944, Vaidya fought in the Burma Campaign during the final months of the Second World War.[5]


Early army career[edit]

Vaidya received an emergency commission in the 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.[1]

1965 Indo-Pak war[edit]

Vaidya was promoted lieutenant-colonel on 10 June 1965,[6] 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. For this he was awarded India's second highest military decoration, the Maha Vir Chakra.

1971 Indo-Pak war[edit]

Promoted brigadier on 21 July 1969,[7] Vaidya during the 1971 Indo-Pak conflict was the commander 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 or Battle of Barapind 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).

Subsequent career and promotion to COAS[edit]

On 2 November 1970, Brigadier Vaidya was appointed Commandant of the Armoured Corps Centre and School,[8] he was given command of an armoured division and was promoted to acting major-general on 4 January 1973,[9] with confirmation in the substantive rank on 1 April 1974.[10] He was promoted to lieutenant-general on 25 January 1980 (seniority from 16 August 1978).[11] On 31 July 1983 General Vaidya became the 13th Chief Of Army Staff of the Indian Army . In 1984, he planned Operation Blue Star to evict Sikh militants hidden in the Golden temple.

He retired on 31 January 1986, one of India's most decorated officers,[12] he had completed over 40 years of service.

Operation Blue Star[edit]

In 1984, Vaidya designed and supervised[13] Operation Blue Star - a military operation ordered by Indira Gandhi, then Prime Minister of India,[14] against militants commanded by Shabeg Singh (AVSM and PVSM) under Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, Chief of Damdami Taksal, in June 1984 at the Golden Temple complex.


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 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."[15] 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 car, bearing Registration No. DIB 1437, while driving home from the market on Rajendrasinhji Marg, Pune, at around 11:45 a.m.[15][16] 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.[15][17] 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.[18]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. [19]

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.[20][21] 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, Maharashtra Governor S.D. Sharma and Chief Minister of Maharashtra S.B. Chavan, along with over 50,000 other mourners.[15]

Following the assassination, the Khalistan Commando Force issued a statement declaring that Vaidya had been killed in retaliation for the Golden Temple operation;[20] 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.[15]

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";[21] the two were executed on 9 October 1992.

Awards and recognition[edit]

Honours and awards[edit]

Param Vishisht Seva Medal ribbon.svg Maha Vir Chakra ribbon.svg Ati Vishisht Seva Medal ribbon.svg Wound Medal-India.svg
India General Service Medal 1947.svg IND Samanya Seva medal.svg IND Samar Seva Star Ribbon.svg IND Paschimi Star Ribbon.svg
IND Raksha Medal Ribbon.svg IND Sangram Medal Ribbon.svg IND Sainya Seva Medal Ribbon.svg Indian Independence medal 1947.svg
IND 25th Anniversary Independence medal.svg IND 30 Years Long Service Ribbon.svg IND 20YearsServiceMedalRibbon.svg IND 9YearsServiceMedalRibbon.svg
Ribbon - 1939-45 Star.png Ribbon - Burma Star.png War Medal 1939–1945 (UK) ribbon.png Ribbon India Service Medal.png

Padma Vibhushan
Param Vishisht Seva Medal
Maha Vir Chakra(Bar)
Ati Vishist Seva Medal
Wound Medal
General Service Medal 1947
Samanya Seva Medal
Samar Seva Medal
Paschimi Star
Raksha Medal
Sangram Medal
Sainya Seva Medal
Indian Independence Medal
25th Anniversary of Independence Medal
30 Years Long Service Medal
20 Years Long Service Medal
9 Years Long Service Medal
1939 - 1945 Star
Burma Star
War Medal: 1939 - 1945
India Service Medal

Dates of rank[edit]

Insignia Rank Component Date of rank
British Army OF-1a.svg Second Lieutenant British Indian Army 20 January 1945 (emergency)[5]
20 October 1945 (substantive)[1]
British Army OF-1b.svg Lieutenant British Indian Army 7 May 1947 (seniority from 20 April)[1]
British Army OF-1b.svg Lieutenant Indian Army 15 August 1947[note 1][22]
Lieutenant of the Indian Army.svg Lieutenant Indian Army 26 January 1950 (recommissioning and change in insignia)[22][23]
Captain of the Indian Army.svg Captain Indian Army 20 October 1951[1]
Major of the Indian Army.svg Major Indian Army 20 October 1958[24]
Lieutenant Colonel of the Indian Army.svg Lieutenant-Colonel Indian Army 10 June 1965[6]
Colonel of the Indian Army.svg Colonel Indian Army 12 July 1968[25]
Brigadier of the Indian Army.svg Brigadier Indian Army 21 July 1969[7]
Major General of the Indian Army.svg Major General Indian Army 4 January 1973 (acting)[9]
1 April 1974 (substantive)[10]
Lieutenant General of the Indian Army.svg Lieutenant-General Indian Army 25 January 1980 (seniority from 16 August 1978)[11]
General of the Indian Army.svg General
Indian Army 31 July 1983


  1. ^ 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 d e f "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 8 November 1952. p. 249.
  2. ^ S.Sartaj Alam Abidi; Satinder Sharma (2008). Services Chiefs of India. Northern Book Centre. p. 73.
  3. ^ "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...
  4. ^ "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.
  5. ^ a b Abidi, S. Sartaj Alam; Sharma, Satinder (2007). Services Chiefs of India. New Delhi: Northern Book Centre. pp. 72–73. ISBN 81-7211-162-2.
  6. ^ a b "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 11 March 1967. p. 178.
  7. ^ a b "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 13 June 1970. p. 728.
  8. ^ "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 26 December 1970. p. 1556.
  9. ^ a b "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 31 March 1973. p. 404.
  10. ^ a b "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 19 April 1975. p. 553.
  11. ^ a b "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 12 July 1980. p. 770.
  12. ^ "General Arunkumar Sridhar Vaidya". Archived from the original on 10 January 2014.
  13. ^ "IN BRIEF; Indian General Who Raided Temple Is Slain". The New York Times. 17 August 1986.
  14. ^ "Operation Bluestar, 20 Years On".
  15. ^ a b c d e Rahman, M. (31 August 1986). "Former army chief General A.S. Vaidya assassinated by Sikh militants in Pune". India Today.
  16. ^ Associated Press. "Shrine Leader Killed in Ambush", The Dallas Morning News, 11 August 1986.
  17. ^ Weisman, Steven R. "A Top Indian General is Assassinated", Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 11 August 1986.
  18. ^ Sun-Times Wires. "Sikhs kill ex-army chief, massacre revenge hinted", Chicago Sun-Times, 11 August 1986.
  19. ^ STATE OF MAHARASHTRA V. SUKHDEO SINGH & ANR [1992] RD-SC 169 (15 July 1992)[1]
  20. ^ a b Associated Press. "General cremated; Sikhs admit to killing", c/o Houston Chronicle, 11 August 1986.
  21. ^ a b "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.
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 11 February 1950. p. 227.
  24. ^ "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 20 December 1958. p. 284.
  25. ^ "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 28 February 1970. p. 291.
Military offices
Preceded by
Oscar Stanley Dawson
Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee
1 December 1984 - 31 January 1986
Succeeded by
Radhakrishna Hariram Tahiliani
Preceded by
Kotikalapudi Venkata Krishna Rao
Chief of Army Staff
Succeeded by
Krishnaswamy Sundarji
Preceded by
E A Vas
General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Eastern Command
1981 - 1983
Succeeded by
K Chiman Singh