Kargil Revisited - III

shiv
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Kargil Revisited - III

Postby shiv » 14 Jan 2005 17:04

Folks pardon me for starting a new thread on tihis but I want to do something.

On a slow afternoon I watched "Lakshya" on DVD and decided to search for accounts of the Kargil war on the www.

Unfortunately Google only gives you wkpedia on top. BR does not have a blow by blow account of the Kargil war.

It turns out that the only site that speaks solely about the Karhil war is a page on a site built (and hardly maintained) by me

http://www.geocities.com/thalsena/1999war.htm

This will not do.

I have preserved a whole lot of magazines from the Kargil days and I have video clips of some of the action. I think we need to put up a website (fre if needed) solelyto inform the world about teh kargil war.

I want suggestions and help. I can get pictures/videos and some writing work. But I am a no-good web page designer.. Besides - I think this jihad needs toinvolve a few youger people as well.

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Postby Jagan » 14 Jan 2005 17:53

this is a very good topic.

One of the problems in constructing and understanding Kargil History is a lack of proper maps - what is needed is relief-shaded maps that shows the peaks, the ridges, the contour lines etc - not the armysite type maps but maps of National Geographic quality - (there i go day dreaming again!)

- There are a few articles online - the one by the Col of the Raj Rif, the various pieces by LNS from Monitor, but without the maps and illustrations they are difficiult to comprehend.
- We have a fledgling air force section - nothing much, but mostly stuff handed out by the airforce.
- Somebody wants to know about the Officers - we do have a Kargil List of killed, but again, it needs to be developed -with circumstances, awards and other details built into it.

We can tap the newspaper archives like the Tribune India Site, Hindu etc and build a logical timeline of events on which we can again 'write the history'.

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Postby Subra » 14 Jan 2005 17:59

I have many magazine cuttings. It will need time to piece it together. And unlike previous wars , this one we can get more first hand accounts.

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Re: Kargil War History

Postby Jagan » 14 Jan 2005 18:03

shiv wrote:I have preserved a whole lot of magazines from the Kargil days and I have video clips of some of the action. I think we need to put up a website (fre if needed) solelyto inform the world about teh kargil war.


I have all the INDIA TODAYs , OUTLOOKs and FRONTLINES from those days.

Besides - I think this jihad needs toinvolve a few youger people as well.


Me too... any takers?

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Postby Vamsee » 14 Jan 2005 18:50

Kargil main page From Rediff.

http://in.rediff.com/news/kargil.htm

Shiv, are you planning for a web site dedicated for kargil?
(got to go now. will edit later.)

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Postby Umrao » 14 Jan 2005 20:06


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Postby Umrao » 14 Jan 2005 20:13

The Kargil war- 1999



Prakash Pillai (HindustanTimes.com)

May 27, 2005|21:35 IST ( ????? Notice this




Unnerved by the defeats of 1971 war the Pakistani army initiated Operation Topac, by pushing terrorists into Jammu and Kashmir and striking at civilian and military targets from the early 1990s. With almost a decade of terrorism failing to make an impact and the terrorists running out of steam against the Indian Army and para-military, Pakistani army chalked out another plan in its endeavour to annex Jammu and Kashmir.

The operation at Kargil was planned meticulously by the top Pakistani army establishment in a bid to capture the deserted heights in Indian territory, left by Indian army during the inhospitable weather conditions and then taking control of the vital Srinagar-Leh highway. The Pak army thought that by capturing the strategic heights they will be in a position of strength and get the status of the Line of Control (LoC.) altered.

Pakistan army however, faltered in calculating the response of India which was hard with air strikes crippling the Pakistan army and terrorists holed up in the heights and cutting off their logistic support. Moreover, under international pressure the Pakistan army had to withdraw from the heights.

According to a top army source, the Kargil operation was planned months in advance and kept a top secret that was confined to a very few top army officers. The Pak Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Chief of General Staff (CGS), Director General Military Operations (DGMO), GOC 10 Corps and GOC Force Commander Northern Area (FCNA) who was made overall anchorage of operations in the Karl sector were the only ones aware about the actual operation.

Even the Corps Commanders were not kept in picture. It suggested that only an "in principle" concurrence without any specifics be obtained from the Pak Prime Minister. The Pak army thought that the operation would help in internationalising the Kashmir issue.

Pakistan army's objective was to exploit large gaps which existed in the defences in the sector both on Indian and Pakistani side of the Line of Control (LoC). They thought that Zoji La Pass, the only route connecting these region normally opens by end June, thus making the movement of reinforcements by surface from Srinagar impossible till then even if the incursions were to be detected. Pak also calculated that even if the intrusions were discovered in early May, the reaction of Indian Army would be slow and limited, thereby allowing it to consolidate the intrusions more effectively.

The Pak army thought that the intrusions, if effective, would enable Pak troops to secure number of dominating heights from where the Road Srinagar-Leh could be interdicted at number of places, which was the plan and would give Pak control over substantial piece of ground across LoC and enable her to negotiate from a position of strength and alter the status of LoC.

Apart from army regulars Pakistan turned to the mujahideens and decided to push them along with army into the Indian positions. Terrorists from Lashkar-e-Tayyeba, Harkat-ul-Ansar and Afghan War veterans were also grouped with each battalion to give it a facade of jihad. After the intrusion 800 or more militants have been brought to Skardu Area for further reinforcements.
The logistics and cover for the entire operation was to be carried out by the Pakistan army with heavy artillery shelling.

The Pakistan army soldiers were ordered to undertake all operations in local tribal attire so as to depict them as the so called Mujahideens. The traditional 'oval' and 'round' identity discs worn by the soldiers all over the world in the battlefield, were also disallowed. However, despite these restrictions, a number of Pakistan Army soldiers carried their uniforms and identity documents with them, some of whom were captured by Indian forces.

However, much to the discomfort of Pakistan the Zoji La pass opened up early with the weathering clearing up and Indians got a wind of the Pakistani incursions and by early June 1999. There was heavy exchange of artillery fire between Indian and Pakistani forces. It was at this point of time that India realised the damage that has been caused as several vantage points along the heights were taken over by Pakistanis. After review of the situation India tuned to its Air Force to resort strikes that actually broke the backbone of the intruders.

Along with the Air Force the Army co-ordinated the attacks and the intruders were soon left gasping without logistics as the supply routes were cut by aerial bombings and the Army combed up the holed intruders from one point to the other. During the operations Indian Forces captured several Pakistani army personnel and documented their identity.

The greatest embarrassment for Pakistan came when India got a hand to two separate telephonic conversations between the Pakistan Chief of Army Staff and the Chief of General Staff, discussing the Kargil operations suggesting that the entire operation was masterminded at the highest level and conducted by Pakistan Army Regulars. Moreover, the recovery of large amount ammunition belonging to Pakistani army proved beyond doubt its involvement in the operation.

Initially, Pakistan refused accept the dead bodies of its soldiers but under pressure from home Pak had to accept the death of some of its army officers. The documentation by Indian Army proved beyond doubt the involvement of Northern Light Infantry (NLI) of Pakistan in the operation.

Moreover as points after points occupied by Pakistan army fell to Indian forces there was greater international pressure on Pakistan to stop incursions. The then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharrif rushed to the United States for assistance fearing a full fledged Indian invasion into Pakistan but he was told by the US administration to first withdraw all its forces from the region. Sharrif was forced to sign the withdrawal of forces that led to a great embarrassment to the Pakistani forces.

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Postby Rakesh » 14 Jan 2005 20:27

EXCELLENT IDEA SHIV! I am in. We can do it something along Jagan's other war website ---> www.1971war.com

Perhaps we can set up a domain name ---> www DOT op-vijay DOT com

Thus basically we can have a site devoted to the Kargil War. I can assist in editing articles and other related tasks.

Jagan: We can add links to these (1971 War, Op Vijay, etc) on the main page of BR. Will email you.
Last edited by Rakesh on 14 Jan 2005 20:29, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Umrao » 14 Jan 2005 20:28

1) http://www.india-today.com/kargil/

2) [From: International Herald Tribune, Paris, Monday, May 31, 1999]
Pamela Con Job here

Pakistan and Its Army Collide Over Kashmir

By Pamela Constable Washington Post Service
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - While making proper noises about the need for
restraint and dialogue, Pakistani officials can hardly contain their glee
over India and Pakistan coming the closest in nearly two decades to
clashing militarily over the disputed territory of Kashmir.
In the Pakistanis' triumphal assessment of last week's developments, the
renewed conflict has embarrassed their larger and more powerful neighbor
into overreacting against a handful of ''freedom fighters'' inside Indian
Kashmir. It has also exposed India as a territorial aggressor after two of
its military jets were shot down several kilometers inside Pakistani
Kashmir and focused world attention on an issue for which Pakistan has long
demanded international mediation.
''The issue of Kashmir is now on the front burner,'' Mushahid Hussain,
Pakistan's minister of information, said Saturday. ''The events of the last
week clearly demonstrate that the long-festering, long-standing dispute
cannot be brushed aside. Kashmir is the core issue on which the future
peace and stability of South Asia rests.''
But other observers, both in Islamabad and New Delhi, are drawing
different lessons from the flare-up. Some view it as a case of
muscle-flexing by Pakistan's powerful and independent armed forces, which
once dominated the country but may now fear becoming marginalized in a
civilian-led society.
While Pakistan's civilian leaders have been reaching out diplomatically to
India, an effort capped by the historic meeting of both prime ministers in
Lahore, Pakistan, three months ago, some experts say Pakistan's armed
forces have a vested interest in keeping alive the Kashmir conflict. The
Himalayan region has brought India and Pakistan to war twice and is still
heavily militarized on both sides of the 720-kilometer (450-mile) Line of
Control.
''Lahore or no Lahore, national security is still the purview of the
Pakistani armed forces,'' said Major General Ashok Krishna, director of the
Institute of Peace and Conflict in New Delhi. ''The army doesn't want to
relinquish its position in society, and its aim is to dismember India. It
may keep the civilian authorities informed, but it does not want any
interference.''
Some Indian analysts say diplomatic initiatives are unlikely to bear much
fruit as long as the Pakistani military continues to support the cause of
Kashmiri insurgents. Several hundred of them are now dug into mountaintop
positions. Indian ground troops and air strikes have failed to oust them
since May 6.
''This is a clear case of aggression and there is only one solution: the
intruders must leave,'' said K. Subrahmanyam, a defense expert in New
Delhi. ''The government has no choice but to move forward diplomatically,
but it will be meaningless as long as the army keeps up such tactics. They
are threatening civilian authority in both countries.''
Pakistan has repeatedly denied Indian charges of abetting the insurgents,
although officials here say they provide moral and political support to a
''popular, indigenous'' movement by Kashmiris who seek self-determination
and freedom from Indian rule. The Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir is
occupied by several hundred thousand troops.
Now, authorities in Islamabad charge that India is the aggressor in the
current flare-up. They say it is using the insurgency as a pretext for
sending thousands more troops into the region and launching air strikes,
for which the true purpose is to push Pakistani forces away from the border
area, secure territorial advantage and possibly attempt to occupy the
strategic Siachen Glacier.
But some observers here, in an argument that mirrors that of their
counterparts in New Delhi, wonder whether civilian or military authorities
are calling the shots on India's Kashmir policy. They note that a caretaker
government is running the country and awaiting elections and that
hard-liners in the defense and policy establishment have been pressing
civilian leaders to teach Pakistan a lesson.
''A weak Indian government is caving into the hawks in the military,''
Shafqat Mahmood, a liberal Pakistani senator, wrote last week. The armed
forces ''initiated and instigated'' the air strikes because they were
humiliated and frustrated by the insurgent infiltration from Pakistan, he
argued, and ''the caretaker Vajpayee government just did not have the guts
to stand up and say no to the use of the air force in a volatile area.''
Other experts here expressed concerns that as India's elections approach
in September, if continued air strikes fail to drive out the insurgents,
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee may come under even more pressure to
look tough and ''settle scores'' with Pakistan, thus raising the chances
that the conflict could spiral out of control.
Although both countries' successful nuclear tests will probably act as a
deterrent to full-fledged war, they suggested, they also have dramatically
altered the region's military landscape in ways neither country has yet
fully digested and have added an uncertain new dimension to any renewed
hostilities, such as the current crisis over Kashmir.
''In Kashmir, they are playing a game of brinkmanship to see how far the
other side can tolerate a low-intensity conflict,'' said Rifaat Hussain, a
political scientist in Islamabad.''It's a dangerous game.''


********************
Roots of escalation
By D. C. Pathak appeared in "The Pioneer" on June 25, 1999

Intrusion by Pakistan in Kargil comes at the end of a long spell of hostile activities directed by that country against India. All through the Nineties, strategic analysts here watched with concern how in the years following the success of anti-Soviet forces in Afghanistan, Pakistan army and Intelligence agencies blessed by their ruling elite launched a planned covert offensive against India taking advantage of the changed geo-political situation of the Sub-continent. They seized an opportunity to implement their long cherished agenda of first weakening India and then settling scores with her. The covert offensive was designed to give way at an appropriate juncture to a more or less open attack on our national integrity.

It all started with the blue-print of a new proxy war that Pakistan unleashed against India in the beginning of 1991 after creating a consortium of Khalistani terrorists, Kashmiri insurgents and Afghan Mujahideen with the active collaboration of Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan. The Jamaat had already emerged as the operational ally of the ISI in the Afghanistan theatre and it had the advantage of being in a position to exploit some of its clientele on the Indian Sub-continent, particularly the elements belonging to a little known offspring of the Jamaat called the Students Islamic Movement.

The essence of the new game-plan was to carry the trans-border terrorism of Punjab and J&K to the soft belly of India and establish a network of trained and indoctrinated agents to carry out acts of sabotage throughout the country using high grade IEDs. RDX was pushed into India in huge amounts; the quantum of this deadly explosive detected so far runs into some thousands of kilograms.

The Government of India was fully aware of the dimensions and objectives of the new proxy war to embark on an Intelligence encirclement of this country, using the corridors around India (such as Nepal). The rapidity with which the ISI reached out to our North East and pushed the insurgency in that region to a new peak by 1996 was enough of a visible proof that Pakistan’s plans were based on a strategy of constant escalation.

The second signal of an enlargement of the covert offensive came loud and clear when the first armed aliens or Mujahideen appeared in Kashmir Valley in the winter of 1993. The State authorities were used to the violence caused by misguided Kashmiri youth who were picked up by the hostile agencies, trained in the foothills of Afghanistan and returned to the Valley with sophisticated arms. Combatants of third countries joining the militancy in Kashmir in the name of ‘jehad’ was an entirely new phenomenon.

Knowing that there existed an umbilical cord between the ISI and Islamic militants from Afghanistan and other countries, this required the strongest expression of indignation and outrage by India through diplomatic and other means. Scores of such armed aliens were able to stay at Pir Panjal range in Doda district for months facing pressures from our Armed Forces. Even in the rest of the country a few militants were detected who had had battle experience in Afghanistan and Bosnia.

Pakistan was thus pushing the proxy war towards a visible aggression. The fact that the Mujahideen involved in the intrusion in Kargil have a strong core of Pakistan army regulars confirms that Pakistan was testing out the feasibility of a planned escalation by pushing in armed mercenaries into India in recent times.

The third plane in which the roots of escalation of Pakistan lay is the steady enlargement of the sourcing of recruitment for military by Pak agencies. The ISI initially banked totally on the Jamaat’s militant wing Hizbul Mujahideen, which had an extensive network in the Valley. In the ideological spectrum of Islam the Jamaat occupies an extremist fringe being close to the Hanbali school of thought. The organisation was banned in Pakistan twice in the past but its role in Afghanistan gave it a kind of leverage and staying power that it had never enjoyed earlier. Still the Jamaat-e-Islami represented only a small part of the society in Pakistan.

It is in this context that Harkat-ul-Ansar, a militant off-shoot of the Jamiat-ul-Ulema of Pakistan appeared as a new partner in the proxy war in 1994. It soon announced its presence by carrying out two major acts of kidnapping — one in Delhi and the other in Srinagar, both directed against western tourists. The Harkat-ul-Ansar owing allegiance to Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s faction of Jamiat drew upon the products of innumerable ‘madrasas’ being run in Pakistan.

Unlike the Jamaat-e-Islami, the Jamiat-ul-Ulema represents the mainstream of Sunni orthodoxy. It subscribes to the Hanafi school which, compared to Maudoodi’s Jamaat, is less vocal about political Islam but no less assertive about religious puritanism. In terms of strategic analysis, the cause for concern was that a new ‘catchment area’ of huge proportions was tapped for recruiting militants who could be let loose on India. It is interesting that the ISI was able to ensure that there was operational cooperation between the Harkat-ul-Ansar and the Hizbul Mujahideen in Kashmir.

The Taliban offensive in Afghanistan in the latter part of 1996 was preceded by a further enlargement of the quest for Mujahideen, on the religious spectrum. The Taliban thrust was a joint venture of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia with an implicit endorsement of the US for its launch. By 1994-94, firm reports were already available on a new parent body, Dawat-al-Irshad with its markaz near Lahore, voicing the cause of ‘jehad’ in Kashmir. Said to be enjoying patronage of Saudi Arabia, this organisation was dominated by those owing allegiance to Ahle-hadis, whose ideology is synonymous with the Wahabi school of thought. An armed outfit of Dawat-al-Irshsd called Lashkar-e-Toiba has since been making waves on the front lines of militancy in Kashmir. Dawat-al-Irshad was an ISI-backed umbrella organisation fully involved in the preparations for the Taliban venture.

That the Taliban’s ascendancy would prove to be a force multiplier for Pakistan in its offensive in Kashmir was predicted. The point here is that the ever-enlarging base of recruitment of Islamic militants was another prime component of the plan of escalation that Pakistan had consciously adopted in its conflict with India.

The Kargil intrusion is a shift from proxy war to a war-like situation. This has come about at the end of a long spell of continuously hostile activity during which there were strong indications that Pakistan was prepared for a planned escalation.

The intercepted record of conversation between the Pak Army Chief and Lt Gen Mohammad Aziz, Chief of Army Staff as reported in the media suggests that Pakistan is banking on an assessment that Indian air-strikes would not be intensified beyond a point and that there would be enough time available to Pakistan to ensure that Kargil developments result in the internationalisation of the Kashmir issue. India must remember all this when taking a vital decision in the battleground or on the diplomatic front.

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Postby karan » 15 Jan 2005 03:04

Count me In too. I will provide all the help I can. It will take some time I have my orders to be in ME in next two weeks. I am not quite sure If I will have access to Net for 3 months.

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Postby shiv » 15 Jan 2005 06:00

Maybe the first thing that needs to be done is to convert all the magazine/printed material into electronic format - ready for editing.

Having come up with this thread - let me do that first - i.e. scan and OCR.

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Postby Kalki » 15 Jan 2005 11:56

Just one advice/suggestion.

If educating people is the goal, on a mass scale, make the site on the track of Learn about kargil war in 4 hours or Kargil war for Dummies.
Not on the tracks of Kargil War explained using Einstein's Special Theory of military jargon.

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Postby Arun_S » 15 Jan 2005 12:47

I can try to provide photos of Puki weapons captured from dead jihadi TSPA pigs on Kargil peaks. Or some personal affects of NLI cannon fodder.

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Postby Aditya G » 15 Jan 2005 17:09

If educating people is the goal, on a mass scale, make the site on the track of Learn about kargil war in 4 hours or Kargil war for Dummies.

War History is serious business. It aint a bag of popcorn. If you are earnest in your effort then you will not find it interesting.

The existing BR content and other www sites is good enough to present a summarized view.

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Postby shiv » 15 Jan 2005 19:13

Kalki wrote:Just one advice/suggestion.

If educating people is the goal, on a mass scale, make the site on the track of Learn about kargil war in 4 hours or Kargil war for Dummies.


Buddy, the whole friggin reason for starting this thread is because I put up a Kargil war for dummies - or Kargil war in 15 minutes website in 1999.

http://www.geocities.com/thalsena/1999war.htm

That is not enough.

We need serious data collection and archiving.

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Postby Radhey » 15 Jan 2005 19:21


shiv
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Re: Kargil War History

Postby shiv » 17 Jan 2005 15:52

Jagan wrote:
I have all the INDIA TODAYs , OUTLOOKs and FRONTLINES from those days.


Jagan I seem to have many of the issues of India today and Outlook between early June 1999 until the end of the war (late July)

I had a brief glance through them.

The "meat" - the main articles seem to say what is already well known - i.e - surprise intrusion, intel failure, lack of preparation, what does Pakistan want out of this, no LOC crossing and that the peaks will be cleared in 4 months etc.

They also have a lot of individual heroism stories which we need to put on a website with accompanying photos.

The thing we don't have is the gory detail - i.e. attack on point 1234 on xy June - but the individual heroism stories can help us build up a picture of this.

There are also about 3-4 rough maps/reconstructions. I am going to combine them all to see if I can build up a map of features that we can link to individual stories and individual dates.

So first I will scan the maps. Then I will OCR the individual stories and see what sort of "picture" I can build up.

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Postby Jagan » 17 Jan 2005 16:08

Regarding Maps. Sometime back I was working on a cropped image taken from the US Army map archive.

Image

I got bored after marking 'Kargil' and 'Dras' on it. Apparently someone knowledgable (I would say RayC is the only qualified one) can mark out the rest in points - tololoing, Pt this , Pt that..etc

The map brings out the contours well, but the ridgelines are not obvious. Anyone good in graphics is welcome to download it and airbrush the 'shading' into the mountains.

The original map was slightly larger, I can email it if anyone wants it.

Shiv,

some of the personal stories can be found in the daily newspaper stories - our Kargil archives has a thread that gives links to many stories i think, or we can trawl the online available archives - Tribune, Hindu, and I think REdiff etc have archives dating back to 1999.

Regards

Jagan

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Postby Anoop » 17 Jan 2005 16:35

Capt. Amarinder Singh's 'A Ridge Too Far' gives plenty of detail on 8 individual battles. I have a copy of the book and can verify if the accounts in the magazine stories match those in the book. It also has detailed maps, but unfortunately I don't have a scanner.

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Postby Nainan » 17 Jan 2005 16:42

I would love to be part of this initiative........Pls let me know how can I be of help.

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Postby RayC » 17 Jan 2005 17:10

I can check the veracity of stories to the best of my memory and notes, if you so wish.

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Postby shiv » 20 Jan 2005 13:25

I intend to do a lot of groundwork on this topic.

There is actually a wealth of material in those archived magazine stories. I was going through them again this morning and taking notes.

Brought back a lot of memories and some tears as well. There are some heart rending photos - including one of a wife of a sepoy with her head on her husband's chest much as she might have done when he was alive - except he was cold and dead courtesy the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and their jihad.

We MUST NOT forget.

M_chod Paki elite must not be allowed to get away.

Anyhow, back to topic - it seems that the Kargil war is best described using places. Areas like Maskoh valley, Drass, Jubar, Tololing, point 5140, Tiger hill etc have a special significance.

In each case the conflit followed a pattern. Intitial discovery and deaths. Bodies mutilated or recovery not possib;le.

Later mobilization preparation and repeated assaults - sometimes repeted asssaults until each point was captured.

As and when I start transcribing the stories I will merely post it on this thread to serve as a repository from which they can be lifted for an eventual website.

there are hajaaaaar photos - some already on BR. But I do not want a SINGLE photo left out. All the friggin photos must go online for posterity.

Give peace a chance. Deconstruct Pakistan.

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Postby RayC » 21 Jan 2005 00:39

Anoop,
Sent reply.

Admins: Please delete after 3 days. Problem in e mail.

Thanks.

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Postby Leonard » 21 Jan 2005 03:59

Just Found this when googling for mortars

Cover Story - Then There was Peace

Two years after the War, Kargil has become the world's highest memorial with the government's decision to open the area to tourists. An exclusive first-person account of what it was like to filmattle from the front line


Most people have no trouble remembering where they were on the day the Kargil War broke out. It was the summer of '99, June, the beginning of June to be precise, and we were on holiday in Kullu. We were staying in my father's house, over which the AN-32 and IL-76 aircraft winged their way from Chandigarh to Leh. As the battle escalated, we watched Mig-27 and Mig-29 scream overhead and infantry battalions move up the Kullu-Manali-Leh axis. Banners had sprung up everywhere saluting the soldiers who were off to Kargil. These brave young men went past the people lining the narrow streets, their faces rarely betraying .


My father, a retired general who had commanded an infantry battalion during the Bangladesh War as well as a brigade in Ladakh, would gaze in the direction of Rohtang and Ladakh. It was easy to guess what he was thinking: I wish I were there. Of the hundreds on both sides of the border who would lose near and dear ones. Of the thousands who would return crippled from the icy heights of the Great Himalayan ranges. Once the euphoria of victory had subsided, the images that would linger would be ones of the horrors of the war. And the question that would eternally haunt everyone: 'why'?




As a filmmaker who had made documentaries on all the three defence services, I was desperate to get to the war zone. As the only civilian to have flown in a fighter aircraft and operated with the army in Kashmir, I felt duty bound to get to the frontline and film the war. The trouble was, I had very little idea of how to proceed. For starters, I bundled my little family into a car and raced to Delhi. The next few days were spent knocking at the doors of air and army headquarters. Finally, Colonel Raj Williams, the man who was co-ordinating publicity on behalf of the army, called me up and said I could move to Kargil with a skeleton crew. The Ministry of Defence, he said, would give me helicopter support but the funds for the film would have to be raised by me.


The first signs of the war hit us as we flew over the Banihal pass in a Jet Airways flight on June 30. The captain asked everyone on board to down the shutters. I couldn't resist a peek and saw two Mig-21 aircraft flanking us as we descended towards Srinagar. After a calm night at the army transit camp, early next morning I left in a Sumo that had been hired for me by the corps headquarters for the airfield with special permission to film fighter operations. Quick briefings were followed by rapid take-offs. Sortie after sortie got airborne, the aircraft swinging westwards armed with lethal armament to be deposited on the windswept heights. The pilots, mostly in their twenties, carried brown holsters and joked as they walked towards their aircraft. In case they had to eject, they said, the first four rounds were for the enemy, while the last two for themselves so as to avoid being captured alive.


We crossed Zojila later that day and stopped at Gumri, a forward base hospital. Here the reality of war hit us: the wounded awaited evacuation to Srinagar. There were no wisecracks, and little conversation as doctors in bloodstained aprons worked desperately to save the lives of the seriously wounded. The medics moved from man to man, comforting them, checking on them. Most of them had hardly slept for days. Their eyes would scan the skies every now and then, soon as if in answer to their prayers a Mi-17 helicopter appeared, flying low over the ridgeline. Even before it landed, stretcher-bearers moved efficiently towards it. In a cloud of dust and amidst the deafening roar of the rotors, the big machine lifted off, turned in the air, and was gone. The doctors hadn't paused and fresh cases were lined up for evacuation.


Not long after, we reached the actual war zone. The crump-crump of shells landing in the distance was getting closer. Indian guns were firing from all around us. After a while, I could tell the difference between 105mm guns and the larger Bofors as they belched fire and smoke. Overhead, a Mirage released flares as decoys for enemy missiles. Commands were being barked as more gunfire smashed through the stillness. Around us the stark mountains were scarred by Pakistani shells, the smell of cordite filled the air. A soldier armed with an AK-47 flagged us down, checked our papers and waved us on. Be careful, he said, the enemy is shelling the road.


We got to Pandras where the battle for Tiger Hill was raging. Shells screamed overhead and exploded fairly close to us, shattering the windscreen of the Sumo. The driver was driving too fast. I had to threaten him with bodily harm to slow him down. The thought of getting hit by a shell was dreadful enough, without having to worry about fishing ourselves out of a river. Our nerves shot, we got to Drass where the area around the brigade headquarters was blackened by shelling. I managed to get a tent for the night. A captain pointed to a bunker: "Jump in there if the shelling starts. Good night."


Sandbags covered everything. I had dinner at the mess, as we ate two 155mm guns were fired at Tiger Hill from less than 200 metres away. Vikram Chandra of Star News TV channel had an Imarsat telephone and I called my wife, Dipti. While talking to her, the guns went off and I could virtually see her jump. Vikram and I then sat in the open and watched as every second or two, shell after shell arched upwards, lighting up the sky. Somewhere from the direction of Tololing, flares were fired. The orange flames of exploding shells on Tiger Hill were even more dramatic in the pitch of the night. After a while, too tired to stay awake, we crawled off to sleep.


The next day, I got into trouble in the Mushkoh area. This was a narrow valley with a small stream running through it. To the east were the skree covered, almost barren slopes leading up to Tiger Hill where the battle was still raging. In a bid to film 120mm mortars in action, we skirted around the base of Tiger Hill, moving cautiously along a dirt track that ran through the middle of the valley. MMG fire and the odd shell disturbed the beauty of this serene valley. A village was completely abandoned, its mud walls in a shambles thanks to the battering it had received. Windows and burnt doorframes still propped up the rubble in a few places. Yellow roses seemed to be growing everywhere and yellow wagtails and rose finches were belting out their music as if nothing had changed. A jonga with a colonel approached us, as he neared I could see he was livid with me for standing out in the open to film the village. "Anyway, it's your funeral," he said and drove off. Five minutes later, Pakistani observation posts picked us out and we got a hammering. Woosh! Bang! Shells screamed past us and I dived behind a rock, dragging my camera assistant with me, while the driver and escort sought shelter behind another rock. The camera and the Sumo were out in the open, but amazingly, nothing happened to either. The firing stopped and we took off like frightened rabbits.



We ran into an Infantry battalion and stopped to collect our breath. After a while, a small party of men appeared carrying one of their dead. The body was wrapped in sleeping bags. The dead soldier had left behind three daughters, the eldest just eight years old. I moved away, thinking of the grief and tears that would follow the telegram to his village. My crew was obviously thinking the same thoughts, I could see their eyes well with tears.


On the morning of July 8, a shell blew the wall of the bunker in which I was sleeping. I was thrown out of bed and lay in the dark wondering where to run. I felt tiny claws on my bare leg, and groped for a flashlight. A small lizard stared at me, unblinking through the haze of dust. I knocked it off, crawled into my bunk and went back to sleep. Later in the day, I opened my camera bag inside a helicopter and saw the lizard sitting in it. We landed at Dah, a small helipad next to the Indus in the Yaldor sector, which was relatively safe from enemy fire. I set my reptilian friend free among the rocks.


While covering a war, time loses meaning. Hours, days, weeks blur into one another. But days, even months, later, going through the footage one shot then is like reliving every moment. We moved onto Kargil, here I operated with GOC 3 Division, Major General V.K. Budhwar. In their wisdom, army headquarters had ruled that to fly in an army aviation helicopter, I had to be accompanied by the GOC. My father's old command, 70 Infantry Brigade, was now in the hands of Brigadier Devinder Singh. After a five-day march from the road head, the men were zombies. Carrying huge loads along with their weapons and ammunition, they were moving forward. More shelling, more dead and wounded till one lost count of the bodies one saw. We flew from one sector to another, and I marvelled at the human spirit that drove these men on. Some of them hadn't shaved or bathed for weeks and some looked disoriented, yet they listened attentively to orders before moving off to capture yet another hill.


If Drass and Kargil had been bad, then Batalik was the next thing to hell. The Indus here churned its way through steep gorges, a tumbling mass of muddy water waiting to pull into its swirling depths any man or beasts that dared transgress too near its banks. The guns here were dramatically located, literally wedged into the mountains from where they belched their flame and fury. As the battle raged all around us, I flew with the army aviation cheetahs, shooting film after film.


Then abruptly, on July 9, it was over. I was waiting for a helicopter when I saw Lieutenant General Kishen Pal, the corps commander, alight, a huge grin on his face. His staff officer was carrying a stinger missile launcher that the Pakistanis had abandoned as they fled. Word spread like wild fire that the enemy was on the run. I flew in the same chopper towards Chorbatla and we could see the enemy dead everywhere. Our boys were now moving up to bury them. The tri-colour was flying on most of the peaks. There was a huge surge of relief and everyone was hugging everybody else, glad to be alive. The pilot turned to me, perched in a glass bubble up in the sky, his voice on the radio loud and clear, "We've won!".


The guns were silent as I made my way back towards Zojila. Litter and spent shells were being burnt everywhere. At the base of Tiger Hill, I waited for the commanding officer of 8 Sikh to return to his battalion base. He arrived shortly, and though we didn't know each other, we hugged. After visiting his unit's gurdwara, he spoke on camera, describing the war and the actions fought by his men. Surrounded by his men, they sounded the regiment's battle cry, a scene that we used to wrap up the final film. It was a touching moment.

http://www.indiaprofile.com/people/kargil.htm

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Postby Jagan » 21 Jan 2005 04:09

Nice piece by kunal verma.

dragging my camera assistant with me,


err..... focus? :D nah!!

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Postby Ved » 21 Jan 2005 06:00

Rakesh wrote:Perhaps we can set up a domain name ---> www DOT op-vijay DOT com


Good idea - but dont forget to include the name OP SAFEDSARAR - the Air Force operation!

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Postby Ved » 21 Jan 2005 06:10

Kalki wrote:Just one advice/suggestion.

If educating people is the goal, on a mass scale, make the site on the track of Learn about kargil war in 4 hours or Kargil war for Dummies.
Not on the tracks of Kargil War explained using Einstein's Special Theory of military jargon.


Thats a point - how 'bout making key statements as clickable links which provide a detailed background? Most people dontwant to spend too much time reading,and would prefer the facts in a crisp fashion.

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Postby shiv » 21 Jan 2005 06:20

Yes and No Ved.

I believe that it is all too easy to make a half-hearted non-comprehensive summary site using the excuse that people do not want details.

In fact that is EXACTLY the excuse I used when I made my "summary site" on the 4 wars with Pakistan linked below. Just read the index page and you will know what I mean.

http://www.geocities.com/thalsena/

If someone wants to make a summary site - he or she is welcome to do it. I will be putting up facts here too.

But my intention is to try and foster the building of comprehensive site with help from other interested parties. Magazines and source material from that era will degenerate or get thrown away as people move and video arcives will be lost or become inacceesible.

The time to start making a comprehensive history is sooner rather than later.

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Postby Ved » 21 Jan 2005 06:21

[quote="shiv"]I intend to do a lot of groundwork on this topic.....there are hajaaaaar photos - some already on BR. But I do not want a SINGLE photo left out. All the friggin photos must go online for posterity.
quote]

There are two contributions you could make use of...
1. The IAF ran a weekly chat show on rediff.com, the transcripts of which are still on the rediff site. There are many questions from the public,and their answers, which reflect many relevant aspects.
2. I can lay my hands on 2 airborne movies - one, the LGBs hitting Tiger Hill and knocking out the Puki Bn HQ, and the second, pictures of Muntho Dhalo - before, during and after. Interested?
Last edited by Ved on 21 Jan 2005 06:31, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby shiv » 21 Jan 2005 06:27

Ved wrote:2. I can lay my hands on 2 airborne movies - one, the LGBs hitting Tiger Hill and the second, pictures of Muntho Dhalo - before, during and after. Interested?


YES!!

Please email me on shiv at b-r dot com and I can give u an email id that will receive biggish attachments.

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Postby Ved » 21 Jan 2005 06:34

K. Will take a week, at least.

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Postby Mandeep » 21 Jan 2005 19:53

I'd be glad to be associated with anything to record the history of the Kargil War. Count on me.

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Postby Jagan » 21 Jan 2005 20:39

Tlking about the IAF.

there seems to be a dearth of personal accounts/experiences of IAF Officers compared to the stories available on the Indian Army with a personal angle? I think the IAF should get some of its Op Vijay veterans to put thier thoughts and experiences on paper. I have seen the 1999 IAF journal and it had two short accounts by W/C Sinha and F/L Nachiketa. then there is the Perumal story on the Canberra from Sainik Samachar -but beyond that not much. everything is spoken about in a wholistic way but not much on how the war was personally to the pilots and crew.

Mandeep

Do you have access to any of the Gazettes of India - I am sure that beyond teh well publicised stories of the Vir Chakras and Maha Vir Chakras - there are hell of stories hidden in the citations of Sena Medals and Vayu Sena medals. What do you think?

Jagan

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Postby Mandeep » 21 Jan 2005 22:30

Correct, Jagan.

On another interesting note, I've submitted a proposal to the Centre for Armed Forces Historical Research to record the experiences of all war veterans - WW 2,J&K 1947-48,1962, 1965, 1971, Sri Lanka, Kargil and all the insurgencies/IS ops. This would be both audio and video.

Lets see what cmes out of it.

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Postby Rakesh » 21 Jan 2005 22:45

Ved wrote:
Rakesh wrote:Perhaps we can set up a domain name ---> www DOT op-vijay DOT com


Good idea - but dont forget to include the name OP SAFEDSARAR - the Air Force operation!


Ved we will surely mention Operation Safedsagar in the Kargil War History. After giving it some thought, I think it would be better if we gave it the domain name ---> www DOT 1999war DOT com which would be similar to www DOT 1971war DOT com. It will include write-ups/articles on both Op Vijay and Op Safedsagar.

Bharat Rakshak can start an entire war series based on this: the '47 war, the '65 war, the '71 war, the '99 war, etc. That is a long term thing, but for now we will be focusing our energies on Kargil. Thanks.

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Postby Jagan » 21 Jan 2005 23:45

Mandeep wrote:Correct, Jagan.

On another interesting note, I've submitted a proposal to the Centre for Armed Forces Historical Research to record the experiences of all war veterans - WW 2,J&K 1947-48,1962, 1965, 1971, Sri Lanka, Kargil and all the insurgencies/IS ops. This would be both audio and video.

Lets see what cmes out of it.


Mandeep,

A very good suggestion. We are really bad at the video and oral histories - i agree completely. hope CAFHR does something on it.

Jagan

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Postby Arun_S » 22 Jan 2005 02:59

I know many of use here in US wanted to get DVD for LOC-Kargil.

FYI the movie will be be shown on DishNetwork on ZeeTV channel on 23-Jan-04 at 6 PM (PST).

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Postby Cybaru » 22 Jan 2005 03:01

Arun_S wrote:DishNetwork on ZeeTV channel on 23-Jan-04 at 6 PM (PST).


04 last year ??

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Postby Ved » 25 Jan 2005 06:48

shiv wrote:
Ved wrote:2. I can lay my hands on 2 airborne movies - one, the LGBs hitting Tiger Hill and the second, pictures of Muntho Dhalo - before, during and after. Interested?


YES!!

Please email me on shiv at b-r dot com and I can give u an email id that will receive biggish attachments.


OK, I've located the CD, it will, hopefully, reach me within the week. Can you give me the email ID on godsbird@rediffmail.com?

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Postby shiv » 25 Jan 2005 09:22



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