We have all read the stories of the Kargil War , how we managed to capture all the icy peaks and remove the Pakistani Intruders from the valley , but there are some incidents which no one knows about and have never been published on the interests. So we thought it would be nice to tell you these unheard stories from the summer of 1999 , when the Bofors roared in the Mushkoh Valley and the infantry soldiers faught like possesed men
Here are some #KargilWarStories –
1 WHEN INDIA HAD JUST CANCELLED A DEAL FOR ARTILLERY LOCATING RADAR
In the Kargil War , 80% of the Casualties , fatal and non fatal were due to Pakistani shelling. So many lives could have been saved if we had Artillery Locating Radars or what’s know as Weapons Locating Radar (WLR). Three years before the war (1997) , the army headquarters had gone ahead with it’s decision to purchase these kinds of radars. The vital piece of equipment traces the trajectory of approaching shells and calculates the location from where they have been fired.
A team had visited the United States Of America and almost placed an order worth Rs. 200 crores.
Then the Defence Research & Development Organization (DRDO) said that these equipments can be made indigenously. Nothing happened.
By the time and decision was taken on their import , the nuclear test of Pokhran on May 11 , 1998 forced the USA to impose a ban on military purchases. The non availability of these radars was sorely felt
AN/TPQ-36 Counter artillery radar Firefinder Weapon Locating System which was supposed to be purchased by the Indian army in 1997.
Nearly 2 decades after the Kargil War – Indian Army successfully inducted the Weapons Locating Radar “SWATHI” which has been indigenously developed by the DRDO.
(SWATHI WLR Radar)
2 IGNORING THE RECONNAISSANCE MISSIONS OF PAKISTANI
Months before the infiltration was detected and the gun battle started in the month of February , a Pakistani Mi-17 helicopter had flown into Indian territory for a reconnaissance mission , but our commanders concluded that it strayed into our airspace. In October 1998 , there was another report that Pakistanis were surveying that area with Remotely Piloted Vehicle (RPV) or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).
Scientists from the Defence Research Development Organization (DRDO) were called in for investigation after Indian soldiers reported seeing lights scanning the mountains.
But their investigation concluded that Pakistani armoury doesn’t have UAVs which can operate in heights above 12,000 feet. So was there any foreign power helping Pakistan ?
3 WHEN WE HAD MISTAKENLY LET 30 PAKISTANIS PASS BY
After capturing the Tololing (Point 4590) which was a victory with a heavy price.
The first to take on the Pakistani infiltrators was the 1 Naga which faced heavy casualties due to lack of snow gears and intelligence. This was followed by 18 Grenadiers which also faced heavy casualties including their 2ic (second in command) Lt. Col. R. Vishwanathan and Major Adhikari.
Then , 2 Rajputana Rifles were assigned the job of recapturing the post , after the gun battle and taking back Point 4590 the troops were resting on top the mountain an suddenly an officer spotted some movement along the western spur. Through his binoculars he saw about 30 men moving through the mist. Finally he thought they had a chance of firing at visible targets. But caution took over. In the mist it was impossible to identify the men , the officer thought that they could be their men too. He radioed back to base and was told to hold fire. It was , he had been informed , an Indian Army patrol. After they had lowered their guns , came another message. They were not the Indian Patrols. It was too late , the jawans of the 2 Raj. Rif had missed a opportunity to gun down 30+ odd Pakistani Infiltrators
4 WHEN A SOLDIER OF 18 GARHWAL RIFLE HAD SLIT THE HEAD OF A PAKISTANI SOLDIER , DURING THE KARGIL WAR
After recapturing the point 4700 without any significant casualties , the soldiers of the 18th Garhwal rifles were like possessed men and went berserk . Out of frustration and to avenge the death of their fallen comrades one of the Indian soldiers instantly took out his knife and slit the head of a dead Pakistani soldier in one stroke. The head was sent to the 121 Brigade Headquarters at Drass and pinned to a tree trunk. None of the enemy had been captured alive-but this is proof that it is only a matter of time
The enemy head , a war trophy because an exhibition piece. Major General Puri of the 8 Mountain Division came all the way from Mughalpura to see it. Officers at the time of war dropped in to Brigade Headquarters to take a look. It was hung for a couple of days before Major General Puri asked it to remove it , after which it was buried in a corner .
Note – There are only 2 civilian witnesses to this incident and no photo is available of the above mentioned.
5 THE STRENUOUS JOB OF THE ARMY MEDICAL CORPS
The helicopters landed at the Forward Surgical Centre (FSC) every 15 minutes.
The FSC was a 25 bed hospital but after the growing casualties , the number of beds had to be increased to 45 , which weren’t enough. Some had to be treated inside the ambulance itself. Colonel Anil Kayastha the chief surgeon , now recalls how they worked day and night to save lives , to save limbs. On easy days , Col Kayastha tells that they had to operate for 16 hours minimum and most days the surgeries extended between 18 and 22 hours.
6 WAR GAMES JUST A MONTH BEFORE KARGIL
Every year in the month of April, the northern command of the Indian army holds a war game involving senior officers. One of the participants of the war games of the year 1999 was Major General Mohinder Puri , GOC 8 Division. The war game , every year represented two sides and one commander is designated Swarag (India) and while the other Narak (Pakistan). Through sand models and maps the war games are meant to civer every eventuality. In the 1999 exercises held at the 15 Corps headquarters, Major General Puri was Redland representing the enemy and another officer designated blueland representing India. Puri’s main attack came from Uri and Kupwara in the Kashmir Valley. However the presentation of one of the Brigade Commander , Brigadier D.H Sumanwar , involved a daring surprise attack through the areas of Kaksar and Mushkhoh , the very areas feom where the Indian Army had to remove the intruders during the Kargil war.
The aim of the war games that year at the headquarters in Badami Bagh was to validate operational plans and readiness against the background of heightened insurgency in the valley as well as the nuclear status of the two counties.
But in his summing up remarks , where the Corps Commander gives the final assessment of the war games , Sumanwar’s presentation was dismissed outright. No intrusion , it was felt was even remotely possible through these heights since the terrain was considered too treacherous.
7 DEFENCE MINISTER’S EARLY ANNOUNCEMENT OF VICTORY
On July 4 , when the officers of 18 Grenadiers were given the task of capturing the Famous Tiger Hill. Two officers , Lieutenant Balwan and Captain Sachin Nimbalkar were at that very time making repeated attempts to dislodge the intruders from the tiger top. They were still 50 meters short of the peak when the officer radioed , “We Are Short of the top”. This message when conveyed to the Several commands and went up the line ; through Srinagar and Udhampur to Delhi. Somewhere along the way , it became “They are on Tiger Top”. The defence minister was told of this “great victory” while he was addressing a public meeting in Punjab.
The Tiger Hill was actually captured on July 8 , 1999 after the most fearsome fire fight between Major Harpreet and Pakistani Intruders.