Kargil Revisited - II

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Postby svinayak » 04 Oct 2004 07:39

The Kargil fiasco

By Lt. Col. (Retd) Sikandar Khan Baloch
A recent interview by the ex-PM Mian Nawaz Sharif to In-dia Today has once again resurrected the buried issue of Kargil. It has provided an opportunity to the opposition and the ex-PM to score a point against the Government, since as politicians they know fully well the implications of this interview and negative fallout of the revealed facts at this particular juncture when India and Pakistan are bitterly locked in negotiations.
The ex-PM has outrightly accused Gen. Pervez Musharraf of not informing/briefing him about crossing the LoC. This doesn’t seem probable because this is against the procedural practice. The Kargil heights were a part of Northern Areas till 1972. It had been an eye sore for the Indian army because these heights had strategic importance. These dominated the Kargil town and some very important roads and routes of the Indian army. In 1972, with the fall of East Pakistan, the Indians seized the opportunity and captured these. Since then it became an eye thorn for the Pakistan army. It assumed tremendous strategic importance after the Indian occupation of Siachin glacier.
This was and still is the only point from where Pakistan could exert pressure on the Indian troops at Siachin. A plan to occupy these heights was worked out under instructions of late Gen. Zia-uI-Haq along with in filtration of’ Mujahideen in Kashmir. The plan was absolutely marvelous and could have yielded desired results if executed boldly and meticulously. Gen. Zia waited for an opportune time but the circumstances did not, permit him. It had been the greatest wish of every successive army chief to implement this plan but the political leadership. every times chickened out. They lacked the nerve and the verve to stand up, of course, because of the expected retaliation and international political considerations.
We then reach 1998 with Nawaz Sharif and Gen. Musharraf in the saddle. Nawaz Sharif made sincere efforts to enliven the Kashmir issue in some way and he succeeded in Wooing the Indian leadership to visit Pakistan. The Indian leadership politicall very astute and alerts, simply knocked out the Pakistani leader-ship. With out saying anything about Kashmir, Mr. Vajpayee emerged as the greatest pacifist and strategist of the world. The entire world acclaimed his bold peace venture to visit Pakistan which ultimately pushed his party to power. Pakistan only earned slippery promises which resulted in internal dissention. Our army and some leading political parties really felt deceived. Some even went to the extent or physical opposition.
Let us look at the reasons which necessitated the Kargil. Commitment of troops at Siachin is very costly for Pakistan both in terms of expenditure and human lives. The issue has prolonged to an indefinite period. Despite best efforts by Pakistan, Indian’s stubborn and unreasonable attitude has proved the biggest impediment for reaching any peaceful solution. There seems no hope in the future as well, All our efforts towards peaceful settlement were scornfully and disdainfully rejected by India and peace cannot be made by a single party alone. Nawaz Sharif had made a very sincere political effort hut the gamble failed. So some method had to be found out to bring India to the negotiating table. Since all political efforts had failed to bear any fruit, a method to pinch India where it hurts her the most had to he discovered. The logical conclusion was to occupy Kargil, Dras and Batalik heights. The occupation of these heights presented unique advantages to Pakistan. We could simply cut off Indian road linking Srinagar with Zojila, Leh and Siachin. Dumping, of supplies for the troops at all these places could be stopped. It was masterful planning and, had it succeeded for which there was all possible chance, the history of the area would have changed.
General Pervez Musharraf had been closely associated with the Northern Areas and specially the Kargil heights plan since long, first as an SSG officer, then as a senior instructor at War Wing of the NDC, then as DMO and finally as an army chief. He had none into details of the plan and it appeared to him feasible though politically risky. He is professionally a very sound officer and a bold strategist. He has the ability and the will to take risks which most of the time have paid him, He, therefore, rightly calls himself a “survivor”. God had now placed him at the helm of affairs.
He had seen and also personally experienced the miserable state of troops at Siachin. He had seen frost bitten, snow blinded, crippled and maimed soldiers and many dying in this vast snowy desert without even fighting the enemy. It was his professional and moral obligation to do something for this needless suffering of the soldiers. As luck would have it, Kargil action was the only alternative to get our neck relieved. He was a commando by training and had studied the plan in different capacities.
He also had some very good generals around him who had been closely associated with this plan and had the ability to take risk. Above all Gen. Musharraf had a friendly Prime Minister till that time who had promoted him above two equally competent generals . To his good luck the Indian leadership was deeply engrossed in the election campaign(Political instability in India is seen as the right opportunity by the Paki generals. Did it also encourage Unkil to give the nod?) and the army too was committed, though partially. All pointers led to the conclusion that now was the time to strike. From the military point of view that opportunity had come after half a century and to miss it would be a blunder. It appears that he probably took the decision sometime by the end of 1998. This operation was code named “Bader”.
Gen. Musharraf knew the background of the issue that it had twice been rejected by the PMs. He also knew full well that once the problem comes to light it would slip out of the control of the army and go in the hands of media both national and international. it would then become a media war who could turn victory into defeat and defeat into victory. He. was also aware of the likely intensity of the propaganda by India and the resultant international pressure. This aspect of the action could only be looked after by the government and the national media. It should be understood that war planning is always concluded after a thorough study and analysis of the likely consequences. No general would ever initiate a military action without first studying the likely fallout of the action.
So the planners knew this fact also that with crossing of the LoC the events may well run out of their control and the government will have to be involved whether they liked it or not. As such, there was absolutely no question of initiating the action without taking the government into confidence. It would be naive even to think otherwise. No army chief, any where in the world, however much powerful he may be, would cross the international border without blessings of the government. At the same time there are certain other facts also which prove that the PM was taken into confidence.
Let us assume that Gem Musharraf arranged a presentation at GHQ for the PM and his team as is the common military practice. Let us also assume that some vital information was withheld from the PM which is the allegation now. Such important presentations are normally attended by the PM, his relevant cabinet members, DG ISI, Chiefs of other two services and the Defence Secretary. There is an allegation that the other two chiefs were not involved which, if believed, is against the standard procedure. But let us assume that they were not there. Even then, Defence Secretary of the calibre of General Iftikhar Ali Khan brother of Ch Nisar Ali, DG ISI, General Zia-ud-din Butt and the Military Secretary Brig Javed Malik (an approved General) were there and they were extremely professional and competent soldiers with long command and war experience. They had also been closely associated with the Northern Areas in general and the Kargil plan in particular. It’s then unthinkable to believe that such through professional soldiers could not detect the underlying catch or the hidden information. Not possible at all.
Let us now look at the next possibility that the presentation was arranged for the PM only. If correct, he still had the Military Secretary with him. Secondly, he himself was fully aware of this proposed plan because it had come up during his first stint in the office. Now if this assumption is accepted as correct, then it raises so many questions and doubts about the personality arid, intentions of the PM. First, why did the PM violate standard procedure to, attend the presentation without his military staff. Is the PM empowered to take decision on such an important national issue all alone or in coalition with the COAS? In the first place it doesn’t seem probable but if true it is then very unfortunate for the nation and very unfair on the part of the PM. His ability to lead the nation in that case becomes doubtful.
The PM was not an army man and Lad no knowledge about intricacies of a military action in an enemy land at such a height though he was fully aware of the political fallout. The PM still had many options open. After coming back from the briefing, he could have called his trusted military officials and discussed with them. If not convinced, it was within his right to stop the army chief from proceeding further hut no such thing seems to have happened.
Now let us examine the last and the most bitter possibility that General Musharraf proceeded on his own without blessings of the PM or his government. This again seems to be a remote possibility and lacks plausibility for following reasons:
a. General Musharraf was a PM’s own man and had been hand-picked by him personally. As such, Gen. Musharraf enjoyed full confidence of the PM, Personal differences had still not started at such an early stage of command. Then why should he keep the PM out? It would have rather endeared him to the PM.
b. General Musharraf has a remarkable personal conversational skill. He has the ability to put across his point of view logically and convincingly. He could have easily convinced or even outmanoeuverd Sharif if so required, which seems to be a strong possibility in this case.
c. After the decision, the Northern command needed atleast 4 to 5 months to move the troops, dig up positions and dump the supplies, it was neither a small action nor a short period. How could General Musharraf or the Pakistan Army for that matter keep it a secret from the PM, the Ministry of Defence, the ISI and all other intelligence agencies? It was bound to come to light and in that case., the action might even have bounced back.
It is also not possible for the reason that the. PM has a vast intelligence network at his disposal which includes a number of civil intelligence agencies, the ISI and the military intelligence etc. The American satellites also covered the area who could spot the movement of’ a mouse even, what to speak of the army movement. A man moving In the wilderness of snow can he spotted from a great distance.
Then the PM is reported all the important events taking place in the world and in Pakistan atleast twice a day i.e. in the morning and in the evening. Important news are, of course, conveyed immediately. Is it possible that all these intelligence agencies either failed to detect this huge movement or failed to convey it? If it was so., then the agencies need sacking. The PM could not learn about such an important action for such a long time in his own country in the presence of so many intelligence agencies raises a big question about the mental calibre of the man leading the nation. Kudos to the general for keeping it secret from the Indians as well as his own PM for so long a. time?
It is a marvelous achievement on his part. As per Indian source the final decision was taken in Nov ‘98. During the next two months the plan was finalized and its nuts and bolts were tightened. Supplies were collected in a way arousing least suspicion. The infiltration started in February 1999 and everybody was in position and well dug in when it was accidentally detected on 5th May, 1999 by India and the rest is history. Is it possible to believe that ISI and the Ministry of Defence learnt nothing about it? It doesn’t appeal to (be logic Then during the first week of May’ 99 the action was picked tip by the media throughout the world. Did the PM stop it or atleast condemn it if it had been conducted without his permission? There is no such evidence.
My own analysis is, and that can be proved from the GHQ visitors book also, that the action and plan were discussed sometime in Oct/Nov 1998 at GHQ but Nawaz Sharif, very rightly, remained worried about the resultant fallout. He, however, knew that he would become a hero if succeeded. This success would simply immortalize both Musharraf and Sharif. On top of all this it would avenge our humiliation of East Pakistan. He had already become a hero by conducting the nuclear explosions in defiance to all the world and now another big opportunity suddenly appeared before hint it could force the Indian leadership to come to terms on the Kashmir issue.
The temptation offered unique advantages. I personally feel ‘that Musharraf’s arguments for the action finally convinced him and the ambitious PM gave a silent nod. Both the parties seem to have agreed, in the larger national interest and better security reasons to act silently and maintain silence. They both avoided written procedure and open statements because of the possible implications. The occupation part of the plan, the most difficult one, was completed flawlessly but then the Indian diplomacy supported by Indian Armed Forces made us pay dearly. This exactly is the reason which stopped the PM from holding an inquiry or taking action against the general when he was in the office and was all powerful.

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Postby kgoan » 04 Oct 2004 10:06

From Acharya's link, the Paks apparently named the Kargil intrusion as "Operation Bader".

I wonder if there's any significance to that name.

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Postby JTull » 04 Oct 2004 16:12

A plan to occupy these heights was worked out under instructions of late Gen. Zia-uI-Haq along with in filtration of’ Mujahideen in Kashmir. The plan was absolutely marvelous and could have yielded desired results if executed boldly and meticulously. Gen. Zia waited for an opportune time but the circumstances did not, permit him. It had been the greatest wish of every successive army chief to implement this plan but the political leadership. every times chickened out.

Why blame the "political leadership" when Gen Zia himself "chickened out". It is a clear case of Mushy being a chicken and not taking the blame.

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Postby ramana » 04 Oct 2004 19:05

KG, The name was well known even earlier than this link and I had comment on it during the intrusions itself. Battle of Badr was the one in which the prophet defeated his enemies to capture Mecca and started Islam on its glorious run. The TSP has similar delusions. If you note Mushy was quoting the prophet as he was selling out the Taliban!

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Postby Manne » 05 Oct 2004 13:06

Rediff Special

The legend that is K Subrahmanyam

Most unfortunately, the government has not yet released the 17 annexures to the KRC which were carefully sanitised for publication. They contain a wealth of evidence and detail whose publication would be vastly educative at every level. Among other things they graphically tell the inside story of India's nuclear weapons programme in the words of the principal political,
scientific and military actors.

This mistaken reticence underlines another of Subbu's insistent themes. The communications revolution has created a real time, borderless world in which it is foolish, even dangerous, not to keep one's own people and the world informed as instantly, as fully and as truthfully as possible. The information age demands what may be termed first strike information capability -- not propaganda, but genuine and germane information with the necessary background and placed in context.

Note the second para and contrast it with our neighbours.
I hope there are no doubts as to why I am posting this snippet in this thread.

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Postby JCage » 06 Oct 2004 00:10


Heres a first person account from Col Lalit Rai of the events at Khalubar - very movign and gripping.



(Lalit showing us how his binocs was pierced by a Paki bullet, saving his life)

Col. Lalit Rai (Vir Chakra) 1964-1971 Pope House
Undiluted Heroism

I am third generation in the army and that too in the same Regiment. After I was commissioned, I joined 11 GORKHA RIFLES, the Regiment that my grandfather and father belonged to - it's like a tradition. I got commissioned into 7/11 GORKHA RIFLES. This incidentally, was not the battalion that I led into battle. The battalion I was destined to lead, into a fierce series of battles during 'OP VIJAY' was 1/11 GORKHA RIFLES, the one my father had been commissioned into about 42 years ago…
I had been posted to various places, served in every type of terrain conceivable - from deserts, mountains, jungles, ravines, plains, high altitudes, super-high altitudes - you name it. And after various instructional and staff appointments, took over the command of the 17 RASHTRIYA RIFLES( MARATHA LI ), a newly raised battalion in J&K, designed to combat insurgency and militancy. Command of a RASHTRIYA RIFLES Battalion is considered a very tough and a challenging assignment. I had promptly agreed to the offer for the command of 17 RR. I took it as a big challenge, firstly, because the troops were from the MARATHA Regiment, mostly hailing from in and around Pune, quite different from the troops I had been commanding throughout my career till then, and secondly, commanding a battalion in a militant infested area has its fair share of risks and tensions. However it did not take me long to realise that the Gorkha and the Maratha troops were so much like each other in so many ways, as events and achievements of the battalion would unfold later and substantiate my claim. I enjoyed and loved every moment of my command tenure with my MARATHA boys and we hit it off like a house on fire.

For my battalion I had designed a memento using a grenade as my model. A Grenade looks so simple, but if you pull out the pin, you know what happens, right? Simple, but Lethal: that's the motto (which graces the base of the memento) I adopted for my battalion, because that's what it was! This has since become the Motto for the 17 RASHTRIYA RIFLES, whom I'd christened the 'Stormy Seventeen' because we created a virtual storm for the militants, thereby making it extremely difficult for them to survive in our area of responsibility. We'd created some sort of a record there, by eliminating the maximum number of militants, and getting a sizeable number of them to surrender. Since our area of responsibility was very large with hundreds of villages under us, everyday threw up different types of problems and challenges. All these incidents added richly to our experience. This kept me quite engrossed and extremely busy, throughout my tenure there.

OPERATION VIJAY happened in Kargil, while I was busy combating militants elsewhere in the same state. This was somewhere in the first week of May 2001. By the time the actual fighting developed, it was almost the end of May and by now people had realised that the Pak army was fully involved and it wasn't just some militants. 1/11
GORKHA RIFLES had the privilege of being the first battalion to be rushed in for 'OP VIJAY'. At that point of time, my 'Colonel Of The Regiment' (a very senior officer of the Regiment is appointed as the Colonel Of The Regiment, to oversee regimental issues as also do the command planning for the battalions of the Regiment. He is considered to be the father figure of the Regiment) contacted me. He said, `The previous Commanding Officer of 1/11 GR has taken premature retirement and gone, the battalion is presently in the thick of battle,' and asked, 'Would you like to take over the fight and do something about it?' Lt Gen J B S Yadava, AVSM, VrC, VSM, who is presently the Deputy Chief Of Army Staff, was also my commanding officer in 7/11 GR when I was a young officer. I was his adjutant and I had really learnt a lot from this veteran and Vir Chakra award winner of the 1971 Indo-Pak war. He probably had faith in me and was banking on me to do something for the battalion in that difficult hour.

I didn't hesitate; I said, `definitely.' But he also added, 'I know it is unfair on my part to ask you to take up this tough assignment, especially when the Officers, Junior Commissioned Officers and the troops are new to you.' (Remember, I was coming back to the Regiment after serving with the Rashtriya Rifles). Even the terrain was absolutely new to me, the information about the enemy at that point of time was not adequate; things were not all that clear. I wasn't exactly in a very enviable situation. I had however convinced myself that I would take a chance. I was anyway combating uncertainty day and night. Earlier, I had this huge guesthouse to myself in Doda district and every night I used to sleep in a different room, as we used to be under rocket and machine-gun attacks regularly. In fact, when days passed by without some firing or some incident, I used to feel that something was missing! All that of course changed later, as they never even dared to venture anywhere near us. We had successfully managed to dominate our area of responsibility fully, after months of relentless and successful operations against the militant groups.

Once I accepted the offer to command 1/11 GR, they moved me by helicopter within 48 hours and dropped me bang in the middle of the battle-zone. Many operations were going on in full swing at various places in the front. The moment I landed at the base, there was heavy shelling by the enemy artillery and my reception party ran helter-skelter for cover. My reception was now complete with the enemy also chipping in with their artillery shelling. All of us, of course had to dive for cover, this gave me an indication of the difficult times that lay ahead of us.

In a month's time through vigorous effort, I improved and consolidated my battalions posture against the enemy. I got to know the boys, visited every piquet and reconnoitered the complete area of responsibility. By end June I had learnt a lot about the enemy and his capabilities…and was now adequately prepared, given the situation. In the Batalik sector where my battalion was now located, the terrain was really tough and unforgiving, compounded with the most inhospitable weather. After due deliberation and reconnaissance everyone, right upto the highest commander, had more or less assessed that if the formidable and dominating enemy position at Khalubar was to be captured, the complete area would become more or less untenable by the enemy. But the problem was that Khalubar was located at an altitude of 17500 metres above mean sea level, with the enemy sitting well entrenched, with lethal and sophisticated weapons in a dominating position, it was also located deep in the heart of the enemy defences. This implied that the attacker would be under enemy fire right from the word go. The attack would also have to be made uphill under accurate and intense enemy fire. The next logical question was 'who is going to capture it and how? When I volunteered for this seemingly impossible task, people thought I had gone bonkers!

To cut the story short, I led my battalion to battle from the front, into one of the fiercest battles of 'OP VIJAY'. As a commanding officer you are expected to be sufficiently forward with the troops, but not actually lead the assault like I did. The main role of the Commanding Officer is to plan and coordinate well and provide good leadership at all times. Being new I really had no choice but to lead physically from the front on that fateful day of July 1999.

It took us 14 hours of extremely torturous and dangerous marching with heavy loads of arms, ammunition, winter clothing, and other special equipment for negotiating the steep snow covered slopes, rations, etc. to reach the objective. Throughout the move we came under heavy enemy small arms fire and artillery shelling. The intensity and the accuracy of the enemy's fire grew even as we laboriously plodded our way up through snow and sharp jagged rocks at steep inclines. The prevalent temperature at this time was about minus 29 degrees Celsius. A real marrow chilling temperature, which numbs your whole body and deadens the senses.

We had started the attack with a few hundred people. We had closed in to about 600 yards of the enemy position, when the firing became very intense and effective and it seemed impossible to proceed further against this curtain of lead and fire from the tracer bullets. You could see the bullets and rockets hurtling towards us with fearsome intensity and sound. My heart still shudders when I remember the heart wrenching screams and cries of my boys who fell under this wilting fire from the enemy's heavy machine gun as also from his Air Defence gun. The sight of my boys battered, torn and ripped apart by machine gun fire, bleeding profusely, still haunts me, and I often wake up sweating and gasping for air from such nightmares. It was a real test for me, egging the boys on, towards almost certain death, from effective and intensive enemy fire. To close in with the enemy and finish him off before he finished us off. At this point of time I focused myself totally to the immediate task ahead of me - to capture the objective and nothing else. All thought of the family and home was totally blocked out, to rule out even one percent chance of any weakening in my resolve. We pushed ahead despite heavy casualties with approximately 30 - 40 soldiers whom I could muster. The others were either injured or pinned down by heavy enemy fire. Maximum casualties were being caused by fire coming from Khalubar top while the other was from a flank, which, we later named 'Bunker Area'. I decided to capture the top, with the 40 men I could muster, and sent Capt Manoj Pandey to capture and silence Bunker Area with approximately 30 men. We charged up towards the enemy position, chopping enemy heads enroute, and succeeded in capturing the top. When I took a quick head count on top, there were only eight of us left, who were fit enough to fight.

It was literally an uphill task, almost like a scene straight out of Charge of the Light Brigade! The gradients we had to negotiate were between 75° and 80°! It was snowing and extremely cold. The rock that we were climbing was of the jagged variety that chops you to the quick if you make one false move! To top this worst-case scenario possible, there was that enemy fire coming on us right from the top! The enemy could see our every move from the top!

But my Gorkha boys really proved their worth in gold and were unstoppable; I have to doff my hat to my boys! Where normal guys would have had a tough time even walking in those altitudes, my boys sprinted! They charged up and when we were at close quarters with the enemy, my boys did what they had been dying to do for so long, they removed their khukris and started chopping enemy heads. As we charged up, I could see the heads rolling down. When the Pakis saw that - they couldn't hold themselves any longer. They just got up and started running away. It was a sight to behold! 5 ft tall Gorkhas jumping up and chopping off the heads of these strapping, 6 ft tall Pathans, who were fleeing in sheer terror.

So like I mentioned earlier, we were just eight of us, bang in the middle of an enemy position. It became imperative that we hold on to it. It was equally critical for the enemy to push us out because we were not only dominating their replenishment route i.e. for additional arms and ammunition, rations and things like that, but we were also cutting off their route of retreat. So they launched counter attack after counter attack and there I was, with eight chaps holding on resolutely and repulsing attack after attack.

It was almost an impossible task. The enemy would muster up about a platoon (about 30 to 40 troops) and start creeping up slowly and attack us! And with just eight guys, you can imagine just how thin my defense was! Any direction of attack would have only met with one or two rifle fire, however I had all eight guys facing every counter attack. And that was only possible because on a parallel mountain spur, a few kilometers away, I had my troops holding defences against the enemy. So the company commander, whose company was on the other mountain spur, was watching our desperate stand through a pair of binoculars and he became my eyes from that side.

He would tell me, 'Sir, there are now 40 chaps to your left coming at you through the big boulder…' and we would shoot those guys down. And I'm pretty sure that the Pakis haven't yet figured out as to how we managed to know their exact route up. I'm sure they must have thought that we were almost a company atop this position. Quite a few of us were already injured; I had got a bullet in my leg and splinters in my calf and had begun to bleed profusely. Towards the end, a situation arose where I had only two bullets left with me in my rifle - and that rifle belonged to my dead radio operator. In my hurry and concern for my boys and the task, I had literally taken off in my full uniform and I had even forgotten to remove my red collar dogs. I realized my folly much, much later…when I was in the thick of battle. So when I found out that I was down to the last two bullets, I made a quick resolve, one bullet for myself when it comes to that. As for the other one, I decided to take one Paki chap with me before I went.

My boys were also quite tensed up, when they all realised that our moment of reckoning was finally staring us in the eye. I mean, when you realize that your death is arriving within a few minutes time, it becomes that much more agonising and difficult. On the other hand when you don't know, and death comes to you suddenly, it is okay and is probably a part of life. But here it was approaching us in another few minutes…. so I quickly bid a mental goodbye to everyone I held dear to me. I was suddenly woken up from my reverie by the crackle of my radio set. It was my officer from the other mountain position, with a frantic message, 'Sir, I can see about 35 Pakis moving up for another counter attack…" I thought to myself, 'Boy! This is it; the moment has finally come to say 'adieu'

My boys also looked at me for some reaction, I could feel the palpable tension in the air. I have always believed: a dash of humour can really relieve a lot of tension in your life. I had to alleviate their tension quickly and firm their resolve to fight to the end. The Pakis - were cursing and using the choicest of abuses even as they advanced, I gave it back to them in equal measure, with all the Punjabi that I knew. I turned to my boys and said, ' Dushman tumhare commanding officer Saab ko gaali de rahe hain aur tum log chup-chaap baithe ho?!' Now funny thing is that a Gorkha Johnny doesn't know how to give gaalis, and as far as discipline and obedience goes, he is unmatchable.

So they looked at each other and I could read the look in their eyes, it said, 'Saab ne hukum diya hai toh gaali dena hi padega. They looked around and wondered, who could perform this difficult task, and finally nominated one amongst them to give the gaalis. He got up and bellowed seriously, Pakistani kutta, tum idhar aayega toh tumhara mundi kaat degaa! I turned around and told him, 'The Pakis will surely die…but they will die laughing that Gyan Bahadur can't even give proper gaalis !' They all broke into laughter and that kind of revved them up and got their josh back up again…and they all said, 'Abo tah kukri nikalera taeslai thik paarchhu… (We will take out our khukris now and sort him out) we'll fight…'

I radioed the Artillery Officer attached with us, located on the other mountain spur of 'Kukarthang' and asked him whether he knew where I was, and he replied in the affirmative. I then asked him to use me as a reference and give me several rounds of rapid-fire support. He was shocked! He tentatively wondered whether I really wanted him to direct our own Artillery fire, approximately 100-odd rounds on my head. We are talking about the Bofors round with its devastating effect - its such a powerful gun! I had to take a chance; I preferred to die there by own gunfire, rather than get captured by the enemy. And by now, even the enemy knew that our ammunition was running low…and as the seconds ticked by, the enemy crept closer and closer 40 yards…35 yards…25 yards…and … I yelled at him and said that I didn't have the time and to just do what he was told! He did and I could hear the deadly whistling screech of the shells (usually the fore bearers of death) coming at us, from the Gun position several kilometres behind us. My boys and I took shelter in the cracks of the huge boulders and the 100-odd rounds thundered and crashed all around us with a beautiful but deadly blast of shrapnel and flame. The temperatures suddenly rose due to the burning cordite and for a few seconds, we were engulfed in comfortable warmth, in otherwise the prevalent freezing cold. We could literally see the Pakis (who were advancing in the open), being blown to smithereens right in front of us. They didn't know what had hit them. Several times they tried to close in for the kill, since we had no ammunition left, but with the help of our accurate and prompt artillery gunners we sent them reeling back with heavy casualties.

We held on to the position for 36 hours without a wink of sleep or a drop of water to drink. We had not eaten a morsel of food for over 48 hours and were weak because of hunger and the freezing cold. After 36 hours or so, we shifted our position slightly away, as a deceptive measure. Meanwhile my second-in-command moved up with the reinforcements and we finally consolidated our position. KHALUBAR finally was ours. Victory gained after such great sacrifice of my brave boys was perhaps the sweetest thing for me, and nothing, repeat nothing, can ever better that.
As correctly assessed by all of us, once Khalubar fell, the Pakis ran from all the adjoining areas! We subsequently routed them from 11 formidable positions and we quickly pushed them across the LOC - line of control. The 'GORKHAS' had created such terror and dread in the minds of the Pakistanis that when one of the Prisoners of war (PWs) was captured; his FIRST request was to see a GORKHA soldier. I asked one of my boys to go to him and pull out his khukri, the moment he saw the Paki. It was a funny sight - a huge Pathan cringing in sheer dread when confronted with one of the world's most renowned fighting machines - THE GORKHA SOLDIER.

The nations highest gallantry award, the PARAM VIR CHAKRA was awarded posthumously to young Capt. Manoj Pandey…for his valour and supreme sacrifice in the battle of Khalubar. For its sterling performance, the battalion was awarded a unit citation. We also earned the title of 'THE BRAVEST OF THE BRAVE' for having won a Param Vir Chakra and an Ashok Chakra (Lt Puneet Dutt had earlier won the AC in J&K in '98). For individual acts of bravery we won a bagful of gallantry awards. The President awarded me the Vir Chakra for inspirational leadership and conspicuous bravery of a very high order.

- Col. Lalit Rai, VrC
Last edited by JCage on 06 Oct 2004 01:05, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Ashutosh » 06 Oct 2004 00:21

Nice article. I still remember Lt. Col (then) Lalit Rai and his 1/11 Gurkha Rifles being posted to Southern Command a few years ago ... there was a big mess at the Pune Railway station then! :)

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Postby Anoop » 06 Oct 2004 00:58

Excellent article by Col. Rai. There's a mis-print in the height of the Khalubar feature though - probably meant 17500 ft or 5334 m. Man, what an account.

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Postby Rangudu » 06 Oct 2004 01:13

Wow. Hats off to Col. Rai and his men.

People should read this before asking for cutting deals with Pakis.

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Postby vksac » 06 Oct 2004 01:25

Nice one to read. I think he mis-typed the date....it was 1999 when kargil happened....but chalega....

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Postby Arun_S » 06 Oct 2004 19:19

K-curse and movie mogul's doom


IANS[ WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 06, 2004 10:59:45 AM ]

Showbiz is a cruel world - and it gets even more so for a lion in exile. Ask Sooraj Barjatya.

Until recently, he was regarded as one of six maverick moviemakers in Mumbai, alongside Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Karan Johar, Rakesh Roshan, Ram Gopal Varma and Yash Chopra.

That was until Barjatya made and released Main Prem Ki Deewani Hoon . Now, within months, he has waltzed from "wow" to "woe" without missing a beat.

The case of J P Dutta is even more shocking.

Known and revered by the entire industry as the last of the dying breed of movie moguls, his latest film LOC-Kargil has sent his entire extended family of sons and daughters within the film fraternity scurrying into invisibility.

Sunday was JP's birthday. The crowd and clamour of camaraderie and glamour at the Duttas' residence was far less dense than last year.

"No one called except Abhishek," JP admitted candidly.

Evidently, Bollywood has no appetite for movie moguls, who have delivered non-successes at the box office.

It happened to Raj Kapoor after Mera Naam Joker , Kamal Amrohi after Razia Sultan and Yash Chopra after Faasle and Vijay .

"It happening to me now," said JP, who hasn't lost his laughter or sense of humour.

"My favourite song nowadays is the one the filmmaker played by Guru Dutt sang in Kaagaz Ke Phool - Dekhi zamaane ki yaari bichde sabhi baari-baari ."

Fortunately, I've my father, wife and kids to keep me from falling apart. I don't know what I'd have done without them at this time."

And now he's adamant on not making a film in Mumbai any longer.

"You tell me. What more can I do here? Can any film get any bigger than LOC? The audience isn't coming to watch films any longer. They're staying home to see Ekta Kapoor's serials. I don't think I can make films under these conditions."

What prompted this drastic decision?

The savage treatment meted out to LOC truly disillusioned and shocked the filmmaker. But beyond that, the cold shoulder given to the war epic in this year's National Awards proved the final straw.

Apparently, the film was completely sidelined by the National Awards because it was found to be not conducive to improving India-Pakistan relations.

When Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf spoke against Paki-bashing in Hindi films, he had drawn a direct reference to LOC . Apparently it was found to be unbecoming for the powers-that-be in New Delhi to honour a film Pakistan found hostile.

Dutta shakes his head.

"I don't know how far this is true. If it is, then I'm sorry to say I've lost faith in our power structure completely. These last six months have taught me a lot about human nature and how failure affects those around you. Really, I've had quite enough!" [/url]

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Postby Surya » 06 Oct 2004 19:38

That is one of the finest accounts of a battle by an IA guy.

This guy needs to write a book

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Postby Babui » 06 Oct 2004 21:24

That's a great first hand account of the Battle for Khalubar Top. One for the books - needs to be saved and incorporated into BR. Loved this para

"So they looked at each other and I could read the look in their eyes, it said, 'Saab ne hukum diya hai toh gaali dena hi padega. They looked around and wondered, who could perform this difficult task, and finally nominated one amongst them to give the gaalis. He got up and bellowed seriously, Pakistani kutta, tum idhar aayega toh tumhara mundi kaat degaa! I turned around and told him, 'The Pakis will surely die…but they will die laughing that Gyan Bahadur can't even give proper gaalis !' They all broke into laughter and that kind of revved them up and got their josh back up again…and they all said, 'Abo tah kukri nikalera taeslai thik paarchhu… (We will take out our khukris now and sort him out) we'll fight…'"


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Postby Jagan » 06 Oct 2004 21:36

That para on Gaalis had me ROTFLMAO :)) :lol:

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Postby dipesh.c » 06 Oct 2004 21:40

WOW!!! Awesome article! Proud of Col Rai and his men..I hope the TSPig army remembers how it feels to get beheaded by a Khukri..

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Postby jrjrao » 04 Nov 2004 21:57

Pakistan bans a magazine publishing Kargil truth.:
http://athens-olympics-2004.newkerala.c ... s&id=40886
...Manzoor Parwana, editor of "Kargil International" says ... his magazine had evidence that the fighters belonged to the Light Infantry of Pakistan army.

"The soldiers of the Northern Light Infantry, that is, the youth of Gilgit Baltistan was involved in the Kargil operation, and were presented to the world as 'mujahideen' (Islamic Separatists). It was said that the mujahideen are fighting at those hieghts. But the people of Gilgit Baltistan were involved in that conflict and bodies were coming to our homes every day. So we demonstrated and protested that it should be admitted that the army regulars are involved in the operations and they should be accorded honours"," he said.

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Postby Roop » 05 Nov 2004 02:11

kgoan wrote:From Acharya's link, the Paks apparently named the Kargil intrusion as "Operation Bader".

I wonder if there's any significance to that name.

That is actually a typo. They meant to say "Operation Bladder". Once India started fighting back, Packees were pee-ing in their pants. :D

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Postby Kartik » 05 Nov 2004 05:39

remarkable story of the ultimate courage, bravery and sacrifice made by the Gorkhas, for the nation they call their "Second Mother". Stories like this should be passed around to everyone, letting them know about the kind of odds our army faced to win back our land. and the innocence of those Gorkhas, who did'nt know any gaalis is so ironic in a situation where their ferocity had gained them that post ! amazing story, needs to be put on BR.

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Postby Anoop » 05 Nov 2004 06:11

On the topic of Gorkhas, cross-posting from a less read thread:
On another note, I am reading a book 'Third and Ninth Gorkhas' bought from BR's bookstore. It is full of vignettes, some of it delectable, at least one downright macabre.

The funny one first, illustrating the ability of the Gurkha to have fun while in battle. In WWI, the Turks were bombarding a detachment of Gurkhas, when 3 of them decided to scare their own signallers who were in a dug-out covered by a tin roof. So they threw bricks on the tin roof and scared the hell out of the signallers who thought it was raining shells. The nearer the shells burst to the 3, the more they became engrossed in their little game! Ultimately, they gave the game away by appearing too pleased with themselves when they presented themselves at the door of the dugout.

The gruesome story next. In a campaign in NWFP, two companies of Gorkhas were coming under the Pathans' sniper fire directed from a clump of bushes. The snipers were well concealed in the tall brushwood. So a Havildar and 4 Sepoys went out on a shikar to get the snipers. They did not take their rifles, only their Khukris and went barefoot. They were instructed to return only in the morning for fear of being shot by own troops if they entered the camp at night. During the night, only 1 sniper bullet came in the direction of the camp. So the next morning, the Havildar enters the tent where the officers are eating breakfast. His left hand is behind his back and he salutes and says they killed two snipers. The officers ask him how he knows this and whether the bodies are still around. The Havildars brings his left hand around to expose a Pathan's head, which he deposits on the table and says 'Sahib, the other is outside. Shall I bring it in?'.

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Postby ramana » 30 Nov 2004 01:35

First Posted by Airvat Singhin the TSP news thread.

Kargil echo in Pak purchases

Full Story

What we should look at closely is the fact that Pakistan’s thrust for arms acquisition is focused on air force systems, with naval capabilities coming next. In an army-dominated military system and army-ruled state, this merits attention. Islamabad realised during the Kargil War that while its assumption was that the Indian Army has been badly strained by continuing internal security commitments, and its weapons capability had been degraded by lack of modernisation, it suddenly came up against the Indian Air Force on one side and the Indian Navy on the other. And India did not react as expected across the international border where Pakistan could expect to impose a stalemate and a ceasefire due to the spectre of a nuclear ‘‘flash point’’ cultivated by it assiduously for years (and propagated in the West, for other reasons). The aim was to get a ceasefire with the Pakistan Army occupying substantive territory across the Line of Control, thereby negating the Simla Agreement and altering the very discourse on Kashmir. Thus while the Pakistan Air Force was flying patrols across the Line of Control with its F-16s during the Kargil War, it opted to watch paralysed and not interfere while its troops were being subjected to incessant air and ground assault by the Indian Army and Air Force.

Less than three years later, it was faced with an even more difficult situation when India mobilised after the suicide terrorist attack on Parliament on December 13, 2001—India ‘9/11’. As in 1999, the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy combat capabilities had been degraded by long years of neglect but both still had a clear edge over the Pakistan Air Force and its Navy in qualitative and quantitative terms. Given the reality of nuclear weapons, combat on land is more likely to lead to a stalemate than produce any meaningful results. Air strikes by India in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir would have left Islamabad with few options; and a similar situation obtained at sea. Islamabad could either decide to engage IAF (and Indian Navy) and suffer greater attrition with a clear prospect of losing, or try and stay out of fight. Army leadership in Pakistan finally realised that air power and naval forces would be critical in future conflicts and decided to opt out, though forced to roll back terrorism. And hence the focus on air force and naval modernisation and arms acquisitions now.

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Postby Rishi » 12 Dec 2004 13:57

It had to happen...

The eXile's War Nerd on Kargil:

Kargil: War as Ice Capades
by Gary Brecher



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Postby Jagan » 12 Dec 2004 17:15

rishi wrote:It had to happen...

The eXile's War Nerd on Kargil:

Kargil: War as Ice Capades
by Gary Brecher



You gotta appreciate his sense of humour :)

forget the poor Jawans (grunts) who died up on the ice and just listen to her comment: "I would have worked on the film even if they'd only given me a two-minute role."

Settling for a two-minute role -- baby, that's real sacrifice.

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Postby Jager » 15 Dec 2004 20:44

we forget the late induction of artillery power in the kargil conflict . This could have been a more influential factor (in the high casualty figure ) rather than the late induction of airpower as artillery is in so many ways superior to aerial bombardment in a conflict scenario like kargil.
in simple terms the generals ,brigadiers and the colonels simply did not know who and how many were up the hills .

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