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Operation Dwarka, also known as Operation Somnathmarker, was the popular name given to Pakistan Navy's attack on the Indian coastal town of Dwarkamarker on 7 September 1965. This was the first use of a Navy in the Indo-Pakistan Wars.

As the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 broke out between Indiamarker and Pakistanmarker over Kashmirmarker, armies and air forces of both nations were involved in bitter fighting. Pakistanmarker was under attack in Punjabmarker region and were locked in battles in Kashmirmarker. To relieve pressure on the northern front, Pakistanmarker decided to use her navy in the war by launching a quick strike on Indian coast. The primary objective of the attack was to keep Indian ships blockaded at Bombaymarker and to destroy the radar station and other naval installations at Dwarkamarker. The attack also hoped to divert the Indian Air Force from the north.

The attack

On the night of September 7 Pakistan Navy launched its assault on Western Indian shores. Dwarka was chosen for its proximity, (200 km from Karachi Portmarker) relatively less guarded port and historical relevance. The plan called for a fleet of 7 naval vessels of Pakistanmarker to bomb the tiny town of Dwarkamarker. It was aimed at luring the major ships anchored in Bombay to attack the Pakistan ships. The intention was that the submarine PNS Ghazi lurking in the Arabian Seamarker would then take out the Indian ships. Accordingly a fleet of seven ships comprising PNS Babur, PNS Khaibar, PNS Badr, PNS Jahangir, PNS Alamgir, PNS Shahjahan and PNS Tipu Sultan set sail for Dwarka and bombed the tiny town. None of the primary objectives were achieved.

Indian Navy's official version states that at around 2355 hours, the Pakistani vessels fired over the main temple of Dwarka for more than 20 minutes. The ships fired around 50 shells each, which included some 5.25 inch rounds fired by the Pak cruiser Babur. It adds that most of the shells fell between the temple and the railway station, which lay 3 km from the lighthouse. No building was seriously damaged, with only the Railway Guest House suffering some minor damages. Some of the unexploded shells were also recovered intact.

Pakistan claimed that the operation was a significant one, even celebrating September 8 as "Victory Day" by Pakistan Navy. Authors like Lorne John Kavic and Lowell Dittmer have noted that both Indian and Pakistani navies played no significant roles and that the "insignificant bombardment" of the town was a "limited engagement, with no strategic value."

Trivia

  • Interestingly, the shells used by Pakistan navy bore the mark "INDIAN ORDNANCE"; these were dated from the 1940s - period before the Partition of India and creation of Pakistan.


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