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Jack Farj Rafael Jacob
JFR Jacob.jpg
24th Governor of Punjab
In office
27 November 1999 – 8 May 2003
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal
Preceded by B. K. N. Chhibber
Succeeded by O. P. Verma
9th Governor of Goa
In office
19 April 1998 – 26 November 1999
Chief Minister Pratapsingh Rane (1998)
Luizinho Faleiro (1998–1999)
Francisco Sardinha (1999)
Preceded by T. R. Satish Chandran
Succeeded by Mohammed Fazal
Personal details
Jack Farj Rafael Jacob

(1921-05-02)2 May 1921
Calcutta, Bengal Presidency, British India
(Now, Kolkata, West Bengal, India)
Died 13 January 2016(2016-01-13) (aged 94)
New Delhi, India
  • Param Vishisht Seva Medal ribbon.svg Param Vishisht Seva Medal
  • Commendation of Merit
  • Friends of Liberation War Honour
Military career
Allegiance  British India
Service/branch  British Indian Army
 Indian Army
Years of service 7 June 1942 – 31 July 1978
Rank Lieutenant General of the Indian Army.svg Lieutenant General
Service number IC-470
Commands held IA Eastern Command.jpg Eastern Command
XVI Corps
12 Infantry Division
Battles/wars World War II
  • Tunisia Campaign
  • Burma Campaign

Indo-Pakistan War of 1965

Indo-Pakistan War of 1971

Lieutenant General Jack Farj Rafael Jacob, PVSM (2 May 1921 – 13 January 2016), was a general officer in the Indian Army. He was best known for the role he played in the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971. Jacob, then a major general, served as the chief of staff of the Indian Army's Eastern Command. During his 36-year long career in the army, Jacob fought in World War II and the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965. He later served as the governor of the Indian states of Goa and Punjab.

Early life

Jacob was born in Calcutta to a deeply religious Baghdadi Jewish family originally from Iraq which had settled in Calcutta in the mid-19th century. His father, Elias Emanuel, was an affluent businessman. After his father became sick, Jacob was sent at the age of nine to Victoria Boys' School, a boarding school in Kurseong near Darjeeling. From then on, he went home only during school holidays.

Jacob, motivated by reports of the Holocaust of European Jews during World War II, enlisted in the British Indian Army in 1942 as "Jack Frederick Ralph Jacob." His father objected to his enlisting. Jacob said in 2010, "I am proud to be a Jew, but am Indian through and through."

Military career

Early career

Jacob graduated from the Officers' Training School (OTS) in Mhow in 1942, and received an emergency commission as a second lieutenant on 7 June. He was initially posted to northern Iraq in anticipation of a possible German attempt to seize the oil fields of Kirkuk, and was promoted war-substantive lieutenant on 7 December.

In 1943, Jacob was transferred to an artillery brigade that was dispatched to Tunisia to reinforce the British Army against Field Marshal Erwin Rommel's Afrika Korps. The brigade arrived after the Axis surrender. From 1943 to the end of the war, Jacob's unit fought in the Burma Campaign against the Empire of Japan. In the wake of Japan's defeat, he was assigned to Sumatra.

On 27 October 1945, Jacob was granted a permanent commission in the rank of lieutenant. After World War II, he attended and graduated from artillery schools in England and the United States, specialising in advanced artillery and missiles. He returned to India following its partition, and joined the Indian Army.


In May 1951, Jacob was selected to attend the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, the staff course started in October of the same year. As the first commanding officer, he raised 3 Field Regiment on 14 May 1956. On 20 May 1964, he was given command of an artillery brigade, with the acting rank of brigadier. During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, he commanded an Infantry Division, which later became the 12th Infantry Division, in the state of Rajasthan. During this period, Jacob composed an Indian Army manual on desert warfare.

Jacob was promoted to substantive brigadier on 17 January 1966, and took command of an infantry brigade on 30 September. On 2 October 1967, he was promoted to the acting rank of major general and was given command of an infantry division, with promotion to the substantive rank on 10 June 1968. On 29 April 1969, he was appointed the chief of staff (COS) of the Eastern Command, by General Sam Manekshaw (later Field Marshal). As the COS, Jacob's immediate superior was Lieutenant General Jagjit Singh Aurora, the General officer commanding-in-chief (GOC-in-C) Eastern Command. Jacob was soon tasked with dealing with the mounting insurgency in Northeast India.

Bangladesh Liberation War

1971 Instrument of Surrender
A. A. K. Niazi signing the instrument of surrender under the gaze of J. S. Aurora. Standing immediately behind (L-R) Nilkanta Krishnan, Hari Chand Dewan, Sagat Singh, Jacob (with. Krishnamurthy peeping over his shoulder). Newscaster, Surajit Sen of All India Radio, is seen holding a microphone on the right

Jacob gained prominence during his stint as the chief of staff of the Eastern Command; the command helped to defeat the Pakistan Army in East Pakistan during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. Jacob was awarded a commendation of merit for his role.

In March 1971, the Pakistan Army launched Operation Searchlight to stem the Bengali nationalist movement in East Pakistan. The action led to over 10 million refugees entering India, fuelling tensions between India and Pakistan. By the monsoon season Jacob—as chief of staff—was tasked with drawing the contingency plans in case of a conflict. After consulting with his superior officers, Jacob developed a plan for engaging Pakistan in a "war of movement" in the difficult and swampy terrain of East Pakistan.

An initial plan, given to the Eastern Command by Manekshaw, involved an incursion into East Pakistan and the capture of the provinces of Chittagong and Khulna. Senior Indian Army officers were reluctant to execute an aggressive invasion for fears of early ceasefire demands by the United Nations and a looming threat posed by China. That, together with the difficulty of navigating the marshy terrain of East Pakistan through three wide rivers, led the commanders to initially believe that the capture of all of East Pakistan was not possible. Jacob disagreed; his "war of movement" plan aimed to take control of all of East Pakistan. Jacob felt that the capital Dhaka was the geopolitical centre of the region, and that any successful campaign had to involve the eventual capture of Dhaka. Realising that the Pakistani Army's commander of its eastern command, A. A. K. Niazi, was going to fortify the towns and "defend them in strength", his plan was to bypass intermediary towns altogether, neutralise Pakistan's command and communication infrastructure, and use secondary routes to reach Dhaka. Jacob's plan was eventually approved by the Eastern Command.

The strategy eventually led to the capture of Dhaka. The Pakistani forces were selectively bypassed, their communication centres were captured and secured, and their command and control capabilities were destroyed. His campaign was planned for execution in three weeks, but was executed in under a fortnight.

Jacob understood that a protracted war would not be in India's best interests. On 16 December, during a lull in the battle, Jacob sought permission to visit Niazi to seek his surrender. He flew to Dhaka and obtained an unconditional surrender from Niazi, who later accused Jacob of blackmailing him into the surrender by threatening to order the annihilation of Pakistani troops in the east by bombing. Gen. Jacob made Niazi surrender in a public surrender at the Dhaka racecourse in front of the people of Dhaka, as well as provide a guard of honour.

The war was a significant victory for India, with nearly ninety thousand Pakistani soldiers surrendering to the Indian Army despite only three thousand Indian soldiers in the immediate area of Dhaka.

A study of the campaign by Pakistan's National Defence College concluded that "the credit really goes to Jacob's meticulous preparations in the Indian eastern command and to the implementation by his corps commanders." According to the website Bharat Rakshak, Jacob had repeatedly asserted that the Bangladesh war was only successful because of his own efforts rather than those of Field Marshal Manekshaw or the GOC-in-C of Eastern Command, Lieutenant General Aurora.

For his role in the war, Jacob was awarded the Param Vishisht Seva Medal (PVSM) for distinguished service of the most exceptional order. The citation for the PVSM reads as follows:



COS, HQ Eastern Command

In the operations in the Eastern Theatre, leading to the liberation of BANGLADESH, the contribution of Major General JACK FREDERICK RALPH JACOB, has been pivotal and most valuable as Chief of Staff, Eastern Command he worked for long hours over an extended period without loss of efficiency and displayed a firm grip and outstanding organising ability. He was responsible for detailed planning and execution of administrative and logistic support and his handling of these difficult problems during operations was highly imaginative, thorough and efficient. He has displayed devotion to duty, unstinted loyalty and outstanding ability and has rendered distinguished service of the most exceptional order.

Later military career

On 17 June 1972, Jacob was promoted to the acting rank of lieutenant general and was appointed as the General Officer Commanding of XVI Corps (newly created), with promotion to substantive lieutenant-general on 5 August 1973. His final appointment was as GOC-in-C, Eastern Command, which he held from 1974 until 31 July 1978, when he retired from the Army following 36 years of service and having reached the mandatory retirement age.

Post-retirement life and political career

גנרל ג'ייקוב (General JFR Jacob) מדליק חנוכיה בביתו
Jacob lighting Hanukkah candles, together with Rabbi Schneur Kuptz'ik, Chabad-Lubavitch emissary in Delhi (December 2012)

Following his retirement from the army, Jacob entered a career in business. In the late 1990s, he joined the Bharatiya Janata Party and served as its security adviser.

From 19 April 1998 till 26 November 1999, he served as the Governor of Goa. While Governor of Goa, he was also the administrator during president's rule, due to instability in the Goa assembly. As administrator, he was recognised as an efficient administrator. He contributed to the preservation of Goa's natural green cover by declaring Mhadei [209 km2 (80.7 sq mi)] and Netravati [211 km2 (81.5 sq mi)] as wildlife sanctuaries.

From 27 November 1999 till 8 May 2003, he served as the Governor of Punjab, and Administrator of Chandigarh. During this period, he successfully setup the IT Park in Chandigarh and invited N. R. Narayana Murthy, Chairman of Infosys, to setup a development center there. Thereafter, other IT companies also set up operations in the Chandigarh IT Park, thus increasing employment avenues in the city. He also conceptualised the Chandigarh War Memorial, which was designed by the students of the Chandigarh College of Architecture and inaugurated by President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam on 17 August 2006.

He was a supporter of improved India–Israel relations. When the Bharatiya Janata Party became part of the ruling coalition government of India in 1998, one of their first priorities was to improve relations with Israel, with which India has had formal diplomatic relations since 1992.

He supported the purchase and trade of military equipment and technology from Israel by India, particularly the purchase of Israeli Arrow missiles, which he preferred over the U.S.-made Patriot missiles on account of the Arrows' ability to intercept enemy missiles at higher altitudes.

He remained cautious about relations between India and Pakistan in light of the Pakistani media's suggesting that military and intelligence co-operation between Israel and India, which they called a "Zionist threat" on Pakistan's borders.

He was also positive about India's recent economic growth and the capabilities of the young Indian generation.


The Union Minister for Defence, Shri Manohar Parrikar paying homage at the mortal remains of Lt. Gen. J.F.R. Jacob, in New Delhi on January 14, 2016
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar lays a wreath at Lt. Gen. Jacob's grave in New Delhi on 14 January 2016.

On 13 January 2016, at around 8.30 am local time, Jacob died at New Delhi's Army Research and Referral Hospital due to pneumonia. He was laid to rest the following day in Delhi's Jewish cemetery on Humayun Road. His funeral was attended by India's defence minister, information minister, and foreign delegations.

In April 2019, Israel honoured Jacob with a commemorative plaque on the Ammunition Hill Wall of Honour.

Major publications

Jacob was the author of these books:

  • Surrender at Dacca: Birth of a Nation (ISBN: 984-05-1395-8)
  • An Odyssey in War and Peace: An Autobiography (ISBN: 978-81-7436-840-9)

Honours and awards

Param Vishisht Seva Medal 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 20YearsServiceMedalRibbon.svg IND 9YearsServiceMedalRibbon.svg Ribbon - 1939-45 Star.png
Ribbon - Burma Star.png Defence Medal 1945.png War Medal 1939–1945 (UK) ribbon.png General Service Medal 1918-62.png
Param Vishisht Seva Medal Poorvi Star Paschimi Star
Raksha Medal Sangram Medal Sainya Seva Medal Indian Independence Medal
25th Anniversary of Independence Medal 20 Years Long Service Medal 9 Years Long Service Medal 1939–1945 Star
Burma Star Defence Medal War Medal 1939–1945 General Service Medal (1918)

The Bangladesh government, in 2012, in recognition of his contribution to the creation of Bangladesh, conferred him with the Friends of Liber­a­tion War Hon­our.

Dates of rank

Insignia Rank Component Date of rank
British Army OF-1a.svg Second Lieutenant British Indian Army 7 June 1942 (emergency)
7 December 1943 (substantive)
British Army OF-1b.svg Lieutenant British Indian Army 7 December 1942 (war-substantive)
27 October 1945 (substantive; regular commission)
British Army OF-2.svg Captain British Indian Army 2 February 1945 (acting)
2 May 1945 (temporary)
20 July 1946 (war-substantive)
British Army (1920-1953) OF-3.svg Major British Indian Army 20 April 1946 (acting)
20 July 1946 (temporary)
British Army OF-1b.svg Lieutenant Indian Army 15 August 1947
British Army OF-2.svg Captain Indian Army 1948
Captain of the Indian Army.svg Captain Indian Army 26 January 1950 (recommissioning and change in insignia)
Major of the Indian Army.svg Major Indian Army 7 June 1955
Lieutenant Colonel of the Indian Army.svg Lieutenant-Colonel Indian Army 7 June 1958
Colonel of the Indian Army.svg Colonel Indian Army 23 December 1964
Brigadier of the Indian Army.svg Brigadier Indian Army 20 May 1964 (acting)
17 January 1966 (substantive)
Major General of the Indian Army.svg Major General Indian Army 2 October 1967 (acting)
10 June 1968 (substantive)
Lieutenant General of the Indian Army.svg Lieutenant-General Indian Army 17 June 1972 (acting)
5 August 1973 (substantive)
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