New Delhi, 29
Government in its wisdom once again decided not to celebrate 29th
July this year, which was the anniversary of the fantastic Kargil
war in 1999. 527 brave souls gave up their lives and 1700 were
injured recapturing the commanding heights which Pakistan had tried
to take by force. The assault on Tololing, the early Batalik battles
the fire fights in Mushkoh valley and the tribulations in Turtuk,
that reached our drawing rooms live now seem consigned to
Vijay’ –– one of the most heroic physical battles fought under
great odds and lack of technical hardware –– like weapon
locating radar which have just arrived, night vision devices which
Tehelkha made known and bullet proof vests over which there was a
scandal –– was hailed all over the world for the sheer courage
of the indomitable Indian soldier.
the Defence Minister preoccupied and the BJP Government in the
throes of pre- election dramas, Parliament boycotts and political Baithaks,
the MOD did not find it fit to commemorate the heroes and Government
stated that they did not wish to annoy Pakistan. Deputy Defence
Minister Chaman Lal Gupta said one Vijay Divas was enough and so it
will be. Besides the soldiers that died, Rs 1,984 crore were spent
as per the government release.
is a pathetic country that does not remember its heroes. We should
have, beginning with 6th May when Lt. Saurav Kalia a
young officer barely six months out of the Academy, leading a six
member patrol, was declared missing. There is impotence in the Armed
Forces when they fail to tell the Government that morale depends on
glorifying heroes. Regiments must honour their heroes in public and
the Government must encourage this. In the West, Governments spend
millions to remember their war victors and make much of them at the
anniversaries. They even fly out veterans as the costs are minimal
but advantages are many.
year the Commander Pacific had released a report from United States
explaining the weaknesses of the Indian Army and another forthright
report, was commissioned by the Pentagon and prepared by young and
attractive Julie McDonald of Boston Consulting. This very revealing
booklet is doing the rounds.
of looking at it seriously it is being cursed with words that she
had no business to go around asking frank questions. The four GOI
reports have told the nation in no uncertain terms that the 15 days
from 6th May to 21st May 1999 when incursions
were noticed were days when the politico military decision-making
machinery of the country was found to be wanting. A CDS had been
recommended and in hindsight it was only when Gen. V. P Malik
Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee returned from Poland on 21st
May, having earlier left on 10th May 1999, that some
action took place.
“Safed Sagar” was launched by the Indian Air Force to push the
intruders back and assist the Army to restore India’s Line of
Control. Now that four years have passed and many including those
abroad have analysed India’s security situation, it is clear that
India’s top leadership has still a lot of work to do. Pakistan’s
Musharraf would have had the upper hand and would have had ownership
of some of the heights they actually held in 1965, but for
Chief Marshal P.C Lal in his book “My Years with the IAF”
summarized the 1971 war and had this to say about Kargil “In the
Kargil sector, there was some very tough fighting. The vital road
link between Srinagar and Leh lies through this region. As related
earlier, certain Pakistani posts such as Point 13620, Black Rock and
a few others had changed hands twice during 1965. In December 1971,
the Indian Army accomplished this difficult task a third time. Under
the leadership of Brig. M.L. Whig and Lt. Col R. B. Gurung, the
troops secured Point 13620 on the north bank of the Shingo river, a
tributary of the Indus, attacking from the rear, cutting off their
supply line and their source of water. Our ancient Vampires from
Srinagar operated in close support, especially on 8 and 9 December.
In this region, on either bank of the Shingo river, on the Brachil
Pass, on the Bielargo Ridge, Wali, Hathi Matha and several other
well-fortified posts were attacked and the well-entrenched enemy was
cleared bunker by bunker.”
days ago Lt Gen S K Sinha while releasing a book on Gurkha actions
in the region also recounted how Point 13620 had changed hands and
was back with India, and admitted he contributed to the Saichen
dispute. He was Secretary LOC committee and left the border at NJ
9842, not foreseeing that the future may see action in the glaciers.
is sad to recollect that on May 5th the then DGMO Lt.
Gen. N. C. Vij (now Army Chief ) visited Kargil and Batalik unaware
of the intruders.
Surender Singh was the 121 Bde Commander reporting to Maj. Gen. V.
S. Budhwar, GOC 3 Infantry Division reporting to Lt. Gen. Krishan
Pal, GOC 15 Corps at Srinagar. On May 13th 1999 Defence
Minister George Fernandes visited Kargil and while he claims that he
was told the situation would be sorted out in 48 hours, the Army
however stated they had said they would know the situation only
after 48 hours.
May 21st a Canberra was shot at losing one engine and
Squadron Leader A Perumal courageously brought the plane back to
Srinagar. At this time Lt. Gen H.M Khanna the Army commander was on
leave in Pune, ostensibly being briefed by his predecessor Lt. Gen.
S. Padmanabhan. In New Delhi the Chiefs of Staff Committee with
Admiral Sushil Kumar in the chair standing in for Malik, ACM A.Y.
Tipnis and Lt. Gen. Chandra Shekar VCOAS kept meeting but none could
ring the bells of the Ministry of Defence, that the matter was
the nation celebrates economic gains four years later, committee
after committee has sat to make the National Security Council
functional, bring the impotent CDS system into play, NSAB meetings
continue ad nauseam, there is a lethargy, which has seeped into the
Armed forces which no one is reporting. Nobody listens.
national petrol pump scams made servicemen suffer, personal agendas
of Hindutva and vote banks have become more important than the
morale of the armed forces of this nation. The soldier is taken for
granted and the fact that Kargil Day passed without memory except
for two talk shows on TV, is a sad commentary on our brethren in
uniform. This is a Kargil day thought for all of us to ponder.