India Diffident over growing Chinese Incursions

Over the last year or so, the incursion of Chinese troops on Indian soil has gone up. The Indian Army has said that it has registered the protest with Chinese officials but it still looked lethargic in their approach to me.
The government is just playing down these border violations by saying that it is not a big deal since the Line of Actual Control is not clearly defined. Whatever the case, if these issues are not addressed seriously then India will face tough times ahead.

China is clearly a stronger power than India, both militarily and economically. As former Indian Navy Chief, Admiral Sureesh Mehta, put it, “The power gap between the two is just too wide to bridge and getting wider by the day.” The day China will be confident enough; it will assert its claim on disputed land more aggressively. Diplomatically also India has performed very badly.

The talks over the border dispute have been going on since the year 1981, making them already the longest and the most-barren process between any two countries in modern history. Thus, the longer the process of border-related talks continues without yielding tangible results, the greater the space Beijing will have to mount strategic pressure on India.

The futile discussion and time buying process will put India under even tremendous pressure. It seems the only progress here is that India’s choice of words in public is now the same as China’s. “Both countries have agreed to seek a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable settlement of this issue,” Indian External Affairs Minister SM Krishna told Parliament on July 31. “The matter, of course, is complex and requires time and lots of patience.”

It was as if the Chinese foreign minister was speaking. Isn’t it odd for India, the country at the receiving end of growing Chinese hostility, to plead for more time and patience after nearly three decades of negotiations?

One thing is clear that New Delhi does not have any well defined plan and strategy to go around settling the disputes. More time means, more time for Beijing to define its strategy. Today, China’s muscle-flexing along the Himalayas cannot be ignored. After all, even when China was poor and backward, it employed brute force to annex Xinjiang (1949) and Tibet (1950), to raid South Korea (1950), to invade India (1962), to initiate a border conflict with the Soviet Union (1969) and to attack Vietnam (1979).

India’s long record of political diffidence only emboldens Beijing. India accepted Chinese annexation of Tibet and surrendered its own British-inherited extraterritorial rights over Tibet on a silver platter without asking for anything in return. Now, China wants India to display the same ‘amicable spirit’ and hand over to it at least the Tawang valley. Indian diplomats failed miserably and even in registering protests they appear to be defensive. It gives a feeling that they are clueless about China.

If the situation goes like this then one day, the duo might again be at war. The history has shown that the cost of weak politics and diplomacy has been paid by the soldiers.

Some part of the article has been referred from Rediff.

Vijay Divas: Remembering Real Heroes

TEN YEARS have passed since the Indian Armed Forces fought one of the toughest wars against Pakistani intruders at Kargil, Drass and Batalik. July 26 is Vijay Divas – and commemorates this victory. It was 26 July 1999 when the last of the Pakistan Army intruders beat a retreat leaving their fallen compatriots in uniform on Indian soil unhonoured, unwept, unsung and unburied.

I have followed this war very closely through newspaper and television. This was the first war in my generation and even the first televised war. This war has left its mark on the current generation. The soldiers who died while defending the honour of the country were mostly in their early 20s. They climbed up the steepest cliffs in the middle of enemy fire to hoist the Indian flag. They conquered what was considered impossible. Even then, the Army Chief, General VP Malik said,”In Kargil, nobody ever told me this can’t be done, every soldier was full of high spirits. It was the spirit of the Indian soldier on the battlefield, which steeled the leadership. And therein a famous victory was forced.”

There will be many for whom the memory of this war must have diluted. But this is the time to pay tributes, homage and gratitude to those who chose to walk on the road to death for us citizens. You just cannot let them fade from your memory. They are figures of inspiration and motivation. They are figures of grit and determination. They are the figures to guide us through difficult times and make our nation proud. These figures must be idolized.

These war heroes have motivated thousand of youth of my generation to join the forces and take charge of the security of our nation. There is no higher honour than serving the nation. The Indian Armed Forces give you that feeling of pride and dignity. In today’s time, the biggest Dharma is “Rashtra Dharma”. The stories of these heroes should be told over and over again. This will motivate even more men to serve the nation. Currently, Indian Armed Forces is short of thousands of officers. It is very important for young men of this generation to sacrifice their personal comforts to join the forces.

The government of India and the ministry of defense should also focus on this shortage, else the situation can get out of control. If the military is weak, all of us will have to share the blame. These are tough times and call for tough men to stand up.

As a grateful citizen of this nation, I salute all our nation’s warriors.
I can think of a couple of lines at this time in praise of our warriors:

How else can a man die better
Than facing fearful odds
For the ashes of his fathers
And the temples of his god.

Ten Years Later: The War India Forgot!

It used to be an eerie landmark; the tree I saw everyday in the summer of 1999, blackened and ripped by incessant bombing at the old brigade headquarters, is green again.

But much else has withered. The legacy of the Kargil war, one of the toughest wars of modern military history — far tougher than Iraq and Afghanistan — has been shortchanged by India’s politics. 
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government has mostly looked away since 2004 when it came to observing the anniversary of the BJP government-era war. President Pratibha Patil was requested to come to Drass, but declined, army sources said.

“I think it’s just disgraceful. They are trying to politicise the issue for no reason,” retired Colonel VN Thapar, father of the late Kargil war hero Capt. Vijayant Thapar, told the Hindustan Times as he prepared to head to Drass, the world’s second coldest inhabited place after Oymyakon in Russia.

That is the casualty in a country where a major section of its under-15 population of 350 million have no recollection of the war and no sense of what it meant for India.

“We used to think armymen live a cushy life and zoom around in cars and waste money — I had no empathy for the Army,” said Manraj Singh, 19, a physical education student from Punjab’s Abohar town, as he sat back after dinner at a restaurant in Drass, a town of 2,000 people. “After we came here and saw how and in what kind of place they fought and won the war for the nation I felt really proud of them.”

More than 520 soldiers died in the Kargil war.

In 1999, Indian soldiers had to clamber up impossible, vertical cliffs amid gunfire to retake strategic Ladakh mountains from hundred of Pakistani raiders, including army regulars who sat on the height and could easily bring down approaching soldiers.

On July 26, the day when victory was declared in 1999, Defence Minister A.K. Antony will only pay a wreath in New Delhi, staying away from the massive 10th anniversary celebration planned in the operational hub of Drass on the weekend when top generals from across India and the families of slain officers and soldiers are to arrive here.

Congress MP Rashid Alvi called it “Bharatiya Janata Party’s war”. Coal Minister Sri Prakash Jaiswal said he did not know about the anniversary.

A top army officer shrugged it off. “We chose this life. We aren’t cribbing or hankering after praise. We shall honour our heroes ourselves,” said the officer, declining to be named as he is not authorised to talk to the media.

But Thapar, whose son Vijayant died fighting as he led an advance on a mountain feature called Knoll, said: “This is going a bit too far. I think we should not expect anything from the leaders and have the army and citizens celebrate.”

That is what is happening.

Unlike previous years when Drass hosted mostly western backpackers Indians dominate the tourists who have come here for the summer.

Yes, the former bombed-out dusty town is now a tourist hub.

The town where the ‘market’ was a row of crumbling wooden-shuttered shacks, and just a tea shop for some shelling-time reprieve, now has several small hotels “with complete sanitary fittings” — as one proudly advertised.

“It’s amazing so many Indian tourists are coming this year,” said Mohammed Saleem, 45, of the Afzal hotel. “They want to know what happened at Tiger Hill and Tololing peak and Drass.”

Businessman Saleem Iqbal, 25, sees a greater opportunity.

“If we get permission to take tourists to Tiger Hill on horseback, there will be a big boom,” he said.

Not like the ones he heard everyday in the summer of 1999 as he hunkered fearfully in his first floor marketside home.

 Source: Hindustan Times

Revisiting Kargil with Ex Army Chief VP Malik

Mumbai: Ten years after India’s stirring military victory at Tiger Hill in Kargil, the then Army Chief General VP Malik has broken his silence.

For the first time on television, he has confessed that the high casualties suffered by the Indian Army during the Kargil War were agonising for the military leadership. The General bares his heart out in a rare emotional interview to CNN-IBN’s Vishal Thapar.

For the General who led the blood and guts Indian fight back at Kargil, the deaths of 527 troops in pushing out Pakistani intruders were traumatic. “The most critical moment I was always scared of was the morning briefing, when I was told that in the last 24 hours we have lost so many people. That was the most scary part of the day for me,” said the war-time Army Chief.

As the Indian fight back rolled on from Tololing to Tiger Hill, the death of heroes like Captain Vikram Batra – whom he had personally commended for valour in the battlefield – were heavy blows. I remember giving him a bottle of scotch after his first battle, which he had done so well. After .4875 had been captured, there was no Vikram Batra because we had lost him. So it hurts,” described Gneral Malik.

Captain Batra’s victory call sign, Yeh Dil Maange More (the heart desires more), is one of the iconic highlights of the brutal war, it still haunts General Malik. “I’ve still got that clip with me,” said General Malik. In the thick of all the mayhem of the battlefield, there was loneliness for the man in the middle.

“Those were tense moments and sometimes we didn’t sleep properly,” he said.

With his country’s honour and his own reputation on the line, the General turned to his foot soldier on the battlefront for motivation.

“In Kargil nobody ever told me this can’t be done, every soldier was full of high spirit,” he recalled. It was the spirit of the Indian soldier on the battlefield, which steeled the leadership. And therein a famous victory was forced.

Source: IBN

Congress MP denigrates success of Operation Vijay

THE APATHY and shamelessness of our politicians is yet again highlighted by the comments made by Rashid Alvi, a Congress member of Parliament. In an interview to correspondent of Headlines Today, he said “Kargil isn’t a thing to be celebrated. The war was fought within our territory. We didn’t even come to know when the Pakistani army crossed over and built bunkers inside our territory. It’s only the NDA, which may celebrate.”Union Coal Minister, Sri Prakash Jaiswal asked, “When is Vijay Divas celebrated?” to the same channel.

 

Later, live on the channel, he was remorseless even when accused; by father of Kargil martyr Vijayant Thapar, of politicising the war.

I must tell this fellow that Kargil was due to the failure of intelligence and other reasons. The enemy occupied the nation’s territory and it was imperative to dislodge the enemy. The battle, which was fought saw the supreme sacrifice made by our soldiers. Let us not politicise the war for personal gains. You must acknowledge the bravery, commitment and patriotism of the soldiers.

This so-called MP must understand that every day, there are so many patriots dying to save the nation. Let’s not use the soldier of this country as a punching bag. Every year, since Kargil at least 400 security personnel have died in action across India. We are fighting a war within the territory and on borders. Is their martyrdom less significant?

It might be for you, Rashid Alvi but not for majority of population in India. You cannot hurt the sentiments of a billion people. Please refrain from politicising the issue. Alvi, while putting a question to Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit, last year referred to Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) as ”Azad Kashmir,” little knowing that India’s policy is to call it PoK. This is what he knows about India and her geography.
 
The MP’s like him are a danger for this nation.

It is a humble request to Alvi that he must render apoplogy to this nation and realise his mistake.

We need to learn to honour our brave soldiers.

Jai Hind

Lets’ not Forget Them

It’s that time of the year again.
Every July since the year 2000, the Indian media and the Army in that order, celebrates the eviction of Pakistani intruders from the forbidding heights of Drass and Batalik (and not Kargil, as we all in the media keep referring to for some completely unfathomable reason).
The Army, of course, appropriately remembers its martyrs — the young and not so young officers and several hundred jawans — who sacrificed their lives in recapturing a piece of real estate that the Pakistanis had encroached upon. It was a heroic battle against heavy odds. After that conflict, Vikram Batra, Anuj Nayyar, Manjo Pandey, to cite just three martyrs, became household names.
This year, on the 10th anniversary, the Army has planned a larger celebration and rightfully so.
We in the media have also gone into an overdrive to commemorate the occasion.
After all, Kargil was this generation’s first war. It was also India’s first televised war. We made citizens feel that they were part of the war by beaming images right into their bedrooms.
In many ways, Kargil (I actually hate using the word, but Drass or Batalik do not have the same resonance in the people’s mind as Kargil has) is also a landmark in the military-media relationship in India.
Till 1999 the Army establishment generally looked upon the media as a nuisance. Post-Kargil, the armed forces have woken up to the media’s potential as, what the military fondly calls a force-multiplier. An uneasy relationship till then gave way to greater awareness about one another facilitating meaningful interaction.
This year in fact the Army has made special efforts to invite all those who had reported the conflict from the area that summer. This, the Army says, is its tribute to media’s contribution in the Kargil conflict.
I, like many others, was in the sector in 1999, reporting the events for Outlook magazine. Every year since 2000, I too have written or spoken about the experience in the Kargil-Drass-Mushkoh-Batalik sector.
I am also hoping to be at the Drass memorial on 25th and 26th July later this month to meet up with friends who made Kargil (that word again!) such a memorable experience in our life a decade ago.
And yet, ever since I went there last week to report on what has changed and what has not in the decade since the war, a sense of unease has gripped me. At first I thought it was plain tiredness. After all, one is older by a decade and the body doesn’t take the rigours of travelling in the high mountains as easily as it did 10 years ago.
But deep down, I knew there was something more to my disquiet than just creaking old bones.
Then suddenly it hit me this morning: Are we in the media guilty of over hyping Kargil and its martyrs at the cost of totally ignoring the others? To be honest, the answer is yes.
By admitting this, I am in no way taking away the sacrifice and heroism of our soldiers during the 1999 conflict. Or trying to belittle the tough conditions under which we in the media operated and reported the conflict.
But I will also be less than honest if I don’t admit that collectively we in the media are equally culpable in ignoring or downplaying the unending internal battles fought by the Army as well as other security forces across India.
How many of us for instances, know the names of Col. Vasanth or Subedar Chunni Lal? Or for that matter Constable Tukaram Ombale? How many of us remember the faces of the unnamed police and CRPF constables who die by the dozens in the battlefields of Chhattisgarh and Orissa? Or for that matter army jawans who continue to sacrifice their lives in counter-insurgency skirmishes in India’s north-east?
In Kargil, nearly 500 people lost their lives.
Every year since then at least 400 security personnel have died in action across India.
Is their martyrdom less significant? Don’t their families deserve similar adulation? They certainly do but I am afraid even we in the media tend to report on these incidents for a day or two and move on to our next story.
In the process, we have ignored the interminable internal security threats that India faces, be it in Kashmir, the north-east or in the heartland from the Maoists. And underplayed the sacrifices made by the gallant soldiers who fight them.
In less than a fortnight, when the nation pays a collective tribute to the Kargil martyrs, all of us can perhaps introspect and review our attitude towards other, lesser known but equally valiant soldiers who fight on without expecting anything in return.
As I look ahead, post the Kargil anniversary, it is perhaps time for me to do away with my Kargil obsession and refocus on the current and future battles.

Source: NDTV Written by Niting Gokhale

Indian Subcontinent after 61 years

Indian SubcontinentINDIA WAS divided in 1947. Sixty one years have passed since then, but still the countries of the subcontinent especially Pakistan, India and Bangladesh have still not been able to deal with their internal problems and security issues. British divided India into Dominion of Pakistan and Union of India before leaving the country. This was done in accordance with Jinnah’s two nation theory. Jinnah’s two nation theory was based on separate countries for Hindus and Muslims. There was support and opposition of the partition, but many believed that was the best way out. The partition led to violence and riots and millions of Hindus and Muslims migrated to the country of their choice. Based on 1951 census of displaced persons, 7,226,000 Muslims went to Pakistan from India while 7,249,000 Hindus and Sikhs moved to India from Pakistan immediately after the partition. The province of Bengal was divided into two separate entities of West Bengal belonging to India, and East Bengal belonging to Pakistan. Pakistan was declared an Islamic state while India became a secular state. There was no denying that partition was based on hatred and this is still imprinted on our minds. Kashmir issue has been the centre of problem between India and Pakistan. The issue has led to many wars between the two countries.

Pakistan, a nation which was formed after the partition, moved towards fundamentalism. It surprises me that in the last 60 years, Pakistan has took keen interest on happenings in India rather than looking after itself. This led to unrest in East Pakistan, which launched a language movement in 1952 to declare Bengali as national language. Dominion status was rejected in 1956 in favour of an ’Islamic Republic within the Commonwealth’. Attempts at civilian political rule failed, and the government imposed martial law between 1958 and 1962 and 1969 and 1972. The government was dominated by military and oligarchies all rooted in the west. Significant amount of national revenues went towards developing the west at the expense of the east. The people of the eastern wing began to feel increasingly dominated and exploited by the west. There was violation of human rights in East Pakistan and the people revolted against the dictatorial regime in 1969. Thus Bangladesh was formed in 1971 and became an independent state after Pakistani army surrendered to India after 1971 war.

Thus we had three nations formed from one and their present is somehow dictated by happenings on the other two. Bangladesh was formed with an intention to create a secular state but the fundamentalists and politicians gave up this idea and declared Bangladesh as Islamic state after eighth amendment in constitution in the year 1988. The situation worsened for non Muslims in the country and large number of people fled from Bangladesh to India. The religion is still one of the major political issues in all the three countries. But there is no denying that India has done well to large extent. The sovereignty of the country is based on the equality of the people in terms of rights. India has been successful compared to the other two. In fact, I will say that the other two nations have failed miserably.
One thing that India has done and Pakistan has been unable to do in all these years after formation, is build sound democratic structures. It is these structures, be it the judiciary, legislature, our electoral system or the media, with all their faults, which have ensured that we don’t stray from the path of democracy amid tremendous challenges. Pakistan on the other hand, which has had a few flings with democracy, mostly sham ones, have repeatedly reverted to military dictatorships, when the democratic experiment failed. No wonder even after 61 years, Pakistan is yet to inculcate the democratic ethos and has allowed no democratic institution to flourish. This took a toll on the economy of the country as well.

The biggest tension that is mounting between the subcontinent countries is that of terrorism. Pakistan has constantly supported and funded the terror organisation in Pakistan occupied Kashmir. Bangladesh has also opened the gates to terror outfits lately. India is surrounded by two states whose credibility on the fight against terror are questionable. Pakistan is the country that is almost universally identified as constituting the most serious active threat to our national security.

India is on the path to become a superpower. Even the world acknowledges the progress that our country has made in these years. Clyde Prestowitz, president of the think tank Economic Strategy Institute said that India can become the superpower in 21st century. He also said that we need to maintain a constant focus on the problems that we, as a nation are facing. We still have to work very hard to ensure social-economic development of the people from all the sections of the society. The fruits of development should be shared by one and all. The problem of internal threat should not be neglected.

At the same time, we need to refrain from communalism as that can be the biggest hindrance in the path of the development of the nation. Love for one’s country does not vary in degree from person to person nor it is distinguished by caste or religion. Loving one’s country is a universal feeling. The fundamentalist will try to fly the flag of religion as it has been the easiest way to crust the spirit of humanity. This is applicable to both Hindus and Muslims in our country. We should not have repercussions in our nation of something, which has happened in other parts of the world. One must strive hard, contribute and participate in the revolution that will witness the emergence of India as a superpower.

Stand Up for Our Soldiers

VICTORY IN Kargil was certainly a defining moment in the history of Independent India. It was the outcome of supreme sacrifice by the soldiers of this country, displaying valour with dignity. Kargil was not an easy win. The terrain was tough and the enemy was perched comfortably on high mountain peaks. The task was to regain the occupied peaks. The Kargil victory was an extraordinary achievement for the Indian Armed forces as they conducted the war without violating any international norms. July 26 is celebrated as Vijay Divas, to mark the victory in Kargil. The young officers and soldiers were primarily responsible for India’s victory in Kargil. As a grateful citizen of this nation I pay my homage and salute those brave soldiers who “gave their today for our tomorrow.”
Kargil WarBut nine year on I feel that we as a nation are callous towards our soldiers. A soldier lays down his life to protect the integrity of the nation, which is his duty. The duty to live up to the trust of billions of people, duty to save the motherland from enemy, duty to keep the integrity of the country intact. A soldier fulfills all his duties but can the same be applied to Ministry of Defence (MoD) or for that matter to our bureaucrats and politicians. They earned money on the bodies of the martyrs. They even neglected the intelligence failure. Like the other wars Kargil was also converted to genuine victory. India declared ceasefire when Army was ready for the final assault. Nehru’s mistake in calling a ceasefire too early and taking the issue of Kashmir to the United Nations for resolution are fairly well-chronicled, as a starting point for the modern-day Kashmir issue. Under pressure from Mountbatten and personally committed to peace and non-violence, Nehru opted for a civilised resolution to the conflict. The 1965 war with Pakistan did not end in a decisive victory for any one side. When Pakistan captured the Akhnoor and Chicken’s Neck in Kashmir, Shastri’s aggressive reaction of opening war along the entire western front with Pakistan had resulted in the Indian Army making substantial inroads into Pakistan territory and famously coming within striking distance of Lahore. Shastri, for reasons still not quite clear, decided to play a Prithviraj Chauhan to Ayub Khan’s Mohammed Ghouri. He agreed to withdraw the Indian Army from all captured territories, including some strategic territories in Kashmir. 1971 was probably the best opportunity that India had to resolve the Kashmir issue on terms favourable to it. India had come out of the war not only a decisive but also a magnanimous victor. The ceasefire Indira Gandhi unilaterally declared, against the advice of her armed forces commanders, was driven by realpolitik and economic reasons.
We as a citizen join hands and come forward to extend our support to our brave soldiers. But only when there is a war. We forget them during peace time. Why? Why can’t a nation salute its soldiers when he is alive, not just when he is dead?
Few months ago after the recommendations of Sixth Pay Commission, former servicemen staged protest against the recommendation. They said that the Sixth Pay Commission hasn’t met the expectations of the defence personnels. Minister of State for Defence M Pallam Raju voiced displeasure over the protests by the ex-servicemen, saying it was not dignified on their part. I agree with Raju because India is perhaps the only nation where the politicians are not interested in looking into the grievances of the services. The government must realise that they have taken such a step because their demands are very genuine and they have protested as the last resort. If government hopes to solve the trouble with the laid-back attitude then it is trying to fool itself. A nation is as strong as its armed forces. The words like non-violence and world peace are used these days but one must understand that on the international stage you are identified by your defence forces. Unfortunately, government hasn’t woken from slumber. In India, soldiers are treated shabbily, their prestige is often mocked at and their fate is decided by the IAS babus who have earned notoriety for reasons other than providing a clean administration and efficient governance. Hence joining the forces is no longer a matter of pride and preference, consider the number of vacancies the forces have now. When the ugly politicians look down on patriotism and honour of the soldier, we see heroes laid to rest unsung and soldiers committing suicide.
The defence forces are facing shortage of thousands of officers which has been accentuated by the attrition. This year National Defence Academy (NDA), which has the intake of 300 could get only 192 cadets while Indian Military Academy (IMA) got 86 out of 250 intake capacity. The signs are really disappointing and the government must not take it lightly. After independence, Jawaharlal Nehru neglected the army for years and thus China was able to attack India without any hesitation. He himself later admitted this.
The Indian public and press remain apathetic on defence issues as well. Kargil war was duly covered by media. But when the war was over none of the media houses took the issues of unceremonious treatment meted to the families of martyrs. We forgot that our soldiers are still guarding the frontiers. We as a nation never try to understand the sacrifices, problems and demands of the forces. The problems of the forces is not a priority for our politicians. There has been no solution till date concerning to the Sixth Pay Commission report. It may be seen that initially, an IAS officer and defence service officer start off on an equal footing so far their salary is concerned. But after a year or two, an IAS officer is promoted to the post of under secretary which is equivalent to the rank of a Major or equivalent ranks in other wings of defence forces, where as, the officers in defence services attain the rank of a Major after seven years. As such, a wide gap is created in the salary of an under secretary and an officer of the rank of Major and equivalent ranks in the defence forces.

Vijay Divas: Tribute to Kargil War Heroes

Victory in Kargil is certainly a defining moment in the history of Independent India. It was the outcome of supreme sacrifice by the soldiers of this country, displaying valor with dignity. Kargil was not an easy win. The terrain was tough and the enemy was perched comfortably on high mountain peaks. The task was to regain the occupied peaks. The Kargil victory was a tarvel for the Indian Armed forces as they conducted the war without violating any international norms.

In memory of Vijay Divas,26th July, Let us bow our heads to the great heroes of India who laid down their lives so that we are safe today. FOR THEIR SAKES AND OURS LET US PLEDGE TO GIVE INDIA OUR VERY BEST. EACH TIME AND EVERY TIME.

Lt Saurabh Kalia

Lt Saurabh Kalia was the first martyr in Kargil War. On May 15, 1999, after a continuous cross fire with Pakistan armed forces from across the LoC, he and his troops ran out of ammunition. It is also believed that their signal instrument was out of order, or not working in those conditions. They were finally encircled by a platoon of Pakistan rangers and captured alive before any Indian reinforcement could reach for their help. No trace of this entire patrol was left and Skardu Radio of Pakistan reported that Lt. Saurabh Kalia and five of his men were captured alive.

They were in their captivity for over twenty-two (May 15, 1999 – June 7, 1999) days and subjected to unprecedented brutal torture as evident from their bodies handed over by Pakistan Army on June 9, 1999. The postmortem revealed that the Pakistan army had indulged in the most heinous acts; of burning their bodies with cigarettes, piercing ear-drums with hot rods, puncturing eyes before removing them, breaking most of the teeth and bones, chopping off various limbs and private organs of these soldiers besides inflicting all sorts of physical and mental tortures before shooting them dead, as evidenced by the bullet wound to the temple.

Yogender Yadav Grenadier Yogendra Singh Yadav, an Indian Army soldier instrumental in capturing the strategic Tiger Hill during the Kargil War. He was awarded the Param Vir Chakra – the country’s highest gallantry award.

Rifleman Sanjay Kumar Killing five enemy personnel, lifting a machine gun while hit by a bullet in thigh muscle, lobbying a grenade and clearing a important army post. It is not a narration of any popular bollywood film but a real life scene enacted by Rifleman Sanjay Kumar of the 13 JAK Rif in “Operation Vijay” while capturing army post in the Mushkoh Valley. He was awarded Param Vir Chakara and only one of handfull of personnel to be conferred this highest military award. Little did the PVC awardee know that his act would bring this laurel, for him it was a part of the duty which was executed with perfection.

Cap Vikram BatraI’ll either come back after raising the Indian flag in victory or return wrapped in it.
– Shaheed Captain Vikram Batra, PVC
Captain Vikram Batra fought with exceptional bravery and magnitude, which is rarely seen. He has set an example before the youth of our nation, which shall inspire generations to come. In recognition of his gallant act, Point 4875 has now been renamed as Captain Vikram Batra Top and has received all credit to capturing this vital peak by his Commanding Officer, Colonel Y.K. Joshi, 13 JAK Rifles. For his sustained display of the most conspicuous personal bravery and junior leadership of the highest order in the face of the enemy, Captain Vikram Batra was awarded the Param Vir Chakra, India’s highest medal for gallantry, posthumously.

Cap Manoj PandeyLieutenant Manoj Kumar Pandey, 1/11 Gorkha Rifles, forced back the intruders from the Batalik sector on 11 June 1999. He led his men to recapture the Jubar Top, a feature of great operational importance. But his finest hour was in the capture of Khalubar in the early morning hours of 3 July 1999. On the night of 2/3 July 1999 the battalion’s progress on to its final objective, was halted by a determined enemy firmly entrenched on commanding heights. Clearing it was critical as the battalion faced the prospect of being day lighted in a vulnerable area. Lieutenant Pandey stepped forward to take on the mission. Quickly sizing up the situation, the young officer led his platoon along a narrow, treacherous ridge that led to the enemy position. While still short of the objective, the enemy fired upon the Indian soldiers effectively stalling the Indian attack. Displaying great courage, he surged ahead of his troops and charged at the enemy with a full throated battle cry through a hail of bullets.

Lt Anuj NayyarOn 06 July 1999, Charlie Company was tasked to capture an objective which was part of the Pimple Complex on the western slopes of Point 4875, at a height of 16,250 feet. At the beginning of the attack, the Company Commander got injured and the command of the company fell on Captain Anuj Nayyar, 17 Jat. Captain Nayyar continued to command his leading platoon into the attack under heavy enemy artillery and mortar fire. As the platoon advanced, the leading section reported location of 3 to 4 enemy bunkers. Captain Nayyar moved forward towards the first bunker and fired the rocket launcher and lobbed grenades into it. Thereafter, the section along with Captain Nayyar physically assaulted and cleared the bunker. The enemy, which was well entrenched, brought heavy volume of automatic fire. Captain Nayyar, unmindful of his personal safety, motivated his men and cleared two more bunkers. While clearing the fourth bunker, an enemy RPG shell killed him on the spot. In this action, Captain Nayyar killed nine enemy soldiers and destroyed three medium machine gun bunkers of the enemy. The success of this operation, after a brief setback, was largely due to the outstanding personal bravery and exemplary junior leadership of Captain Nayyar. He displayed indomitable resolve, grit and determination and motivated his command by personal example, acting beyond the call of duty. For conspicuous gallantry and supreme sacrifice, Captain Anuj Nayyar was honoured with the Maha Vir Chakra, posthumously.

Lt Vijayant ThaparThe death of Maj. Vivek Gupta, Saurav Kalia and the recovery of Maj Adhikari body had a deep impact on Robin. The killings , the hand to hand fighting in which heads rolled was tough on a young man just 22 years.

Vijayant moved under the command of his CO Col. M.B. Ravindernath, VrC and his company commander Major P. Acharya. The battalion was then given the task of capturing Tololing. This was a God sent opportunity for Vijayant as he was an officer always looking for action. After the initial assault by Major Mohit Saxena was held up, on the night of 12th June’99 Capt. Vijayant Thapar led his platoon to capture Barbad Bunker.

After the successful capture of Tololing he was given the task of capturing Three Pimples, Knoll and Lone Hill area. The attack started with Vijyant’s platoon leading on a full moon night along a razor sharp ridge wih no cover to offer. There was intense and accurate artillery shelling and heavy enemy fire. He lost some of his dear men and some more were injured causing the attack to be disrupted. However with his indominable spirit and tremendous urge to capture Knoll he got together, the remenants of his men and moved through a ravine to face the enemy. It was a full moon night . Moreover this was an impossible position to capture. The troops of 6 Northern Light Infantry had all the advantages. Strongly prepared positions one narrow knife edge ridge, with precipitous slopes on both side, ravines thousands of feet deep, devoid of cover and almost vertical climbs at places.

While the exchange of fire was going on, full of excitement Vijayant reached his company which had already secured a foothold on Knoll. By this time his company commander Major P. Achrya had been killed. At this news Vijayant’s anger was explosive. He surged ahead with his colleague Naik Tilak Singh. Both of them started engaging the enemy merely 15 mts. away. There were two enemy machine guns firing towards them. After about an hour and a half of fierceful exchange of bullets and abuses Vijayant decided that he had to end the enemy. As he moved up to do so a burst of fire struck him on his head. He fell in the arms of his comrade Naik Tilak Singh. A brave son of India had fallen. It was after that the men of his company charged and fully captured Knoll. The victory at Knoll on 29 June 1999, is a saga of bravery unmatched, and unbounded grit and determination. Courage alone and unflinching faith in almighty God alone turned a tactically impossible situation into a victory

For this act of bravery and his ultimate sacrifice, Capt. Vijayant Thapar was awarded the Vir Chakra.

Lieutenant Keishing Clifford NangrumOn the night of 30 June/01 July 1999, in the operations to capture Point 4812, Lieutenant Keishing Clifford Nongrum was tasked to assault the feature from South-Eastern direction. Lieutenant Nongrum led his column over the near impossible vertical feature. On reaching the top, his column encountered strong enemy opposition. The enemy was well entrenched in interconnected bunkers, carved out of boulders, and remained invulnerable to even artillery fire. The enemy pinned the column of Lieutenant Nongrum down with heavy and accurate automatic fire for about two hours. On seeing the futility of own fire against the fortified bunkers, Lieutenant Nongrum with utter disregard to personal safety charged through the fire zone. Closing in with the first bunker he threw grenades into it and killed six enemy soldiers. He then tried to snatch the universal machine gun of the enemy from the bunker and received a volley of bullets. The audacious action of Lieutenant Nongrum stunned the enemy giving valuable reaction time to his troops to close in and finally clear the position. Though severely wounded, Lieutenant Nongrum refused to be evacuated and fought valiantly till he succumbed to his injuries. This act resulted in the ultimate capture of Point 4812. For conspicuous gallantry and supreme sacrifice, Lieutenant Keishing Clifford Nongrum was honoured with the Maha Vir Chakra, posthumously.

Major Sonam WangchukOn one of the world’s most brutal battlefields, his colleagues and officers say, Wangchuk has captured a vital mountain ridge in the Chorbat La sub-sector near Batalik, giving the army a foothold that it desperately needed. They’ve gone over the mountain tops and now directly face the Pakistani side of the loc. “Thanks to his heroic action, we are sitting bang on the LoC in Chorbat La,” says a Ladakh Scouts officer. On May 26, when Wangchuk got his orders, he promised his son he would return for his birthday on June 11. Given his battle experience in the Siachen glacier, Wangchuk was the obvious choice for the assault. Two days later he was asked to capture an 18,000-ft high ridge just inside the Indian side of the loc. Glacial and rocky, with days warming to minus 6 degrees Celsius, the mountain with its 80 degree gradient was a test even for skilled mountaineers. Information filtering in over wireless dispatches from the LoC describe how while leading a platoon (36 men) and supported by artillery fire from the rear positions, Wangchuk was negotiating an ice wall in the dead of night on May 31 when he heard sounds of picks and hammers on the other side of the ridge facing Pakistan. He quickly flashed a wireless message to the rear. Wangchuk and his men made it to the ridge top in three hours under heavy fire by Pakistani troops from the flanks. The mountains rang with the Ladakh Scouts’ war cry, “Ki Ki So So Lhargyalo” (The gods will triumph), as the superbly fit Wangchuk — he was a top athlete at Delhi’s Modern School — led his men towards the brutal enemy-held cliffs. From there they spotted a group of intruders trying to scale the ridge from the Pakistan side. Wangchuk told his men to hold on till the enemy came within firing range. Four intruders were killed in the gun-battle. Wangchuk and his column had foiled a major infiltration attempt. The soldiers then retrieved the bodies of the intruders who turned out to be Pakistani Army regulars.

A grateful Nation remembers all the Kargil Heroes and pay their homage to those brave men. Jai Hind. Jai Bharat. Indian Armed Forces Rock.

Homage

Battle of Longewala: Truth must be told

THE BATTLE of Longewala is part of army folklore. This is a fairy tale of 100 odd soldiers and their steely resolve, which forced an entire Pakistani brigade, backed by an armoured regiment of 45 tanks, to retreat in the 1971 war. This fascinating story was also captured on celluloid in the film ‘Border’, directed by JP Dutta. The battle of Longewala has been told and retold in military journals and is held out as a shining example to students graduating from the military academies. The sheer valour displayed by Major Kuldeep Singh Chandpuri and his alpha team is just an unmatched feat.
Longewala TankBut some war veterans have challenged this story after 37 years. Major General (retd), Atma Singh Hansara, told Hindustan Times in an interview, “I dispute the ground battle completely. It is mockery of army ethos. No ground battle was fought and the army had merely rehearsed it on a sand model after the ceasefire to cover up the incompetence of senior military commanders.”

Air marshal, MS Bawa, who was directly involved in the war, also agrees with Hansara. He says, “This is a challenge. There was no contact between the enemy and the army.” He further said that the Pakistani thrust was blunted entirely by air action alone.
Atma SinghThis controversy made me go through some facts related to the battle. It is very hard for me to believe, as the story of Longewala has motivated several youngsters to join the forces. I tried to read the available journals, articles, magazines and accounts of war heroes to know the truth.
The Air Force War diary says that this turned out to be a clean battle, one of its kinds. This is the most decisive battle fought between Indian Air Force (IAF) and armour. Even Major General, RF Khambatta, GOC, 12 Infantry Division, lends credence to the Air Force’s claim. Pakistan General, Muqeem, in his book ‘Crisis of Leadership in Pakistan’, mentions that large number of vehicles, tanks and guns got bogged in sand. The enemy was the master of skies and destroyed 18 tanks and other vehicles at his leisure. The army documents related to war seems to nail the controversy. It only gives credit to Chanpuri’s men for ‘holding out’ a lonely post. The document says, “ At Longewala that day, IAF added a glorious new chapter. This was the straight battle between the Pakistan armour and IAF hunters. The bulk of Pak armoured regiment was destroyed by air action alone.”
Truth, it is said, is often the first casualty in the war. The controversy has raised several questions that need to be answered. If this is the truth, then why the army is keeping the lie still alive? Is the army taking more credit than it deserves? What incompetence military commanders are trying to hide? If former officers are correct, then what has propelled them to speak now? They should have protested before or even when the film Border was released?
The Indian army has been in news for wrong reasons, and it is time more facts were opened to put an end to this (de)famed battle. But let’s not make any conclusions unless we hear from both the forces. It is better not to conclude with half knowledge. This is something related to the dignified and respected Indian armed forces, and thus, it is in the interest of services that the truth about the Longewala battle be told to the citizens.

Clarification: I have taken the quotes from magazines, journals, war veteran accounts and websites.