Those passing by the Tank Bund of Hyderabad may spot an old tank alongside the road at some point: this is the Patton Tank of Hyderabad, one of the minor memorials of the city that tourists love to check out in particular. Enthusiasts of army tanks shall note that the model is an M47, notable for having been the last of the tanks from the United States to sport the type of machine gun setup it has on its hull. To those who know the history behind the Patton Tank, though, there is far more to it than its mere model or make: there is also a triumph for India and an important war.
To understand the history of the Patton Tank of Hyderabad, one first has to take a look at the history of the country with its neighbour, Pakistan. The two countries have long had a rather friction-filled relationship, and that friction sparked off a full fire in 1971, with the Indo-Pakistani War of that year. The war actually had its origins in what started out as an internal problem for India’s neighbor: the conflict between West and East Pakistan. When that conflict soared to genocidal heights (with the Pakistan military being mobilized to attack the Bengalis of E. Pakistan), India opened its borders and permitted refugees to come in from the beleaguered region.
India actually attempted to draw the attention and help of other nations to the plight of the Bengalis of E. Pakistan but unfortunately met little encouragement in that venture. Its sustained support of the Bengalis, though, earned it increasing ire from the West Pakistani leaders and army. Eventually, the aggression of the West Pakistanis had turned from merely the Bengalis of E. Pakistan to include India. Both armies continued to build up their forces in preparation for the inevitable conflict and on the 3rd of December, the war was begun.
Many historians have it that the war started with the air strike that was launched by the air forces of Pakistan on that day, especially since the Indian PM at the time, Indira Gandhi, ordered mobilization of the Indian army in reaction to that strike. Later on, Pakistan ended up surrendering, with India a clear victor. All in all, the war lasted a mere thirteen days, yet it claimed millions of lives and devastated millions of others.
One of the major events in the war was the Battle of Basantar (which is perhaps best considered a series of events, but often lumped under this name). This battle involved plans by the Pakistanis in the western area to take over Shakargarh Bulge, which would effectively split off the areas of Jammu and Kashmir from the rest of the Indian army, making them vulnerable to invasion. The Pakistanis failed because of the daring and ingenuity of the outnumbered Indian forces in the area, however. Several Pakistani tanks were also taken by the Indians, who bore them off triumphantly home.
The Patton Tank of Hyderabad is one of the tanks captured by the Indian forces during that battle. The tank was originally a war trophy for the 54th Infantry Division of the army, which ended up making a present of the tank to the city.