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Thursday, July 07, 2022

Lt Gen P N Hoon, Corps Commander during Op Meghdoot, passes away

Lt Gen Hoon had another brush with history when he commanded the Western Army headquartered at Chandimandir during one of the biggest military exercises of the sub-continent, Operation Brasstacks, through parts of 1986 and 1987

Written by Man Aman Singh Chhina | Chandigarh |
Updated: January 7, 2020 12:48:29 pm
Lt Gen P N Hoon, Corps Commander during Op Meghdoot, passes away Lt Gen Prem Nath Hoon (retd).

Former Western Army Commander Lt Gen Prem Nath Hoon (retd) who was the Corps Commander when Siachen was occupied by the Indian Army and who commanded the Western Army during one of the biggest military exercises, Operation Brasstacks, passed away at Command Hospital Chandimandir after a brief illness on Monday. He was 90.

Lt Gen Hoon was the General Officer Commanding of 15 Corps, Headquartered in Srinagar, and having the Ladakh region under its command at the time, when Operation Meghdoot was planned to occupy Siachen Glacier, or the Saltoro Ridge to be precise. There had been indications that the Pakistan Army was preparing for the occupation of the area and there was evidence that Pakistan army teams had been accompanying mountaineering expeditions in the region.

Lt Gen Hoon was actively involved in preparing plans for the occupation of Saltoro Ridge and it eventually came about in April 1984. Since then the highly contested area between India and Pakistan has been firmly in the hands of the Indian Army.

Lt Gen Hoon had another brush with history when he commanded the Western Army headquartered at Chandimandir during one of the biggest military exercises of the sub-continent, Operation Brasstacks, through parts of 1986 and 1987. The biggest-ever mobilisation of troops of the Indian Army, this exercise almost led to a war with Pakistan. As GOC-in-C, Western Command, Lt Gen Hoon was involved in the planning and execution of Operation Brasstacks along with the then Chief of Army Staff, Gen K Sundarji.

In his later years, while giving interviews to mediapersons, Lt Gen Hoon had maintained that Operation Brasstacks was an excuse to go to war with Pakistan. He also wrote a book called ‘The Untold Truth’ in which he claimed that a coup d’etat had been planned by sertain elements to topple the then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi’s government in 1987.

Lt Gen Hoon was born on October 4, 1929, in Abbottabad, now in Pakistan. He Joined the Indian Military Academy, Dehra Dun, in 1947 and was initially commissioned in the Sikh Regiment in 1949 before being transferred to the Dogra Regiment a few years later.

He commanded the 13th Battalion of the Dogra Regiment and also served as the Colonel of the Regiment till he retired in 1987 as the Western Army Commander.

Lt Gen Hoon took part in the 1965 war against Pakistan on Western front in Punjab in the Sialkot and Pasrur sectors. He was promoted to the rank of Brigadier in 1970 and commanded a brigade in Sikkim deployed opposite Chinese forces at Nathu La.

He also served as Director General Military Operations at Army Headquarters and Chief-Of-Staff Western Command Chandimandir before he took over as Western Army Commander.

Post-retirement, Lt Gen Hoon was associated with Balasaheb Thackeray’s Shiv Sena and was the Director General of the Sena’s ex-servicemen wing. For the past several years he had been actively involved in the business of running an automobile agency.

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Lt Gen Hoon is survived by a son and a daughter. The cremation will take place at Sector 25 cremation ground, Chandigarh, at 3:30 pm on Tuesday.

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