SUICIDE ATTACKS AND KASHMIR

The misplaced notion of “Dying to Win” is a coercive strategy that has roots in the radicalisation of the Muslim society by those who support the ISIS and Al Qaeda ideology. They have been advocating suicide as a strategy of the weak to gain momentum whenever the losses of terrorists rise and public support shows sign of weakening. The Pulwama suicide attack is a well thought out strategy since the terror outfits were suffering huge losses. They had to do something that was spectacular to restore the morale of the terror cadres and hit back hard at the security forces. It had instantaneous impact on the morale of the terror organisations and gave them a misplaced perception that ‘Dying to Win’ has the potential to turn the balance in their favour. Al-Qaeda & ISIS were advocating for long that suicide attack is a legitimate act in Jihad as long as it eliminates Kafirs & Takfirs. One must look at suicide attack as a strategic shift in cross border terrorism in Kashmir. The Islamic State graffiti on walls and IS flags in downtown Srinagar have slowly grown into more overt demonstrations of IS allegiance during the funeral of slain terrorists in the last couple of years and is contributing to the growing perception of the dying to win mind-set. The suicide attack on the CRPF is a manifestation of rapid radicalisation and Wahabization of Kashmir. Otherwise, suicide is prohibited in Islamic law according to evidence from the Qur`an, Sunna, and the consensus of Muslim scholars; a Muslim is obligated to fight injustice to the best of his ability but not through deliberately killing himself. He is not commanded to commit suicide to escape afflictions. The ideology of using terrorism as a tool to achieve political objectives and understanding and study of suicide attacks as a weapon in the terrorist arsenal requires appropriate analytical capabilities to distinguish motivations, ideologies, and tactics especially when the impact of suicide bombing makes it a strategic weapon.

Analysis of Objectives of Suicide Attacks in Context of Pulwama

To dissolve the roots of this new weapon of terrorism, India needs to examine a counter strategy by letting this war be fought collectively by the State and the citizens. This requires introspection and analysis. It is prudent to examine these issues so as to build a mechanism to counter this strategy physically and ideologically. Suicide attacks come at a time when terrorists are suffering huge attrition. This is what was happening in the Valley for some months now. At the same time intelligence agencies had also put immense pressure on over ground workers, separatists and money launderers. The attack could be aimed to achieve following objectives:-

  • A Suicide attack as a tool of terrorism is strategic in nature. This attack should not be considered as an isolated act of individual madness, but, such attacks may occur at frequent intervals as part of a larger campaign to achieve specific objectives. The Pulwama target was carefully chosen with a view to garner support of the section of population or create a perception of “we are succeeding”.

  • The ISI objective in the Pulwama attack was to coerce security forces and law enforcement agencies to break the momentum of offensive actions against terrorists. It was also aimed at conveying a message to politicians and policy makers that they could also be targets in future if they pursue a muscular policy.

  • The terrorists are aware that the impact of a successful suicide attack is severe and immediate. They can achieve what a large armed group can’t achieve.

  • Suicide attacks also indicate that those who oppose them can also be punished through this strategy. Damage can be medium to high depending upon the degree of punishment to be meted out. Probably this message was embedded in the current attack.

  • The objective of the attack besides disrupting counter terrorist operations was also to impede unrestricted movement of security forces within the Valley.

Impact of Suicide Attacks

It is important for the Kashmiri society to introspect catastrophic impact of suicide attacks. It may have pleased separatists and disaffected population, but it will prove to be fatal for Kashmiri society and future generations. It will be difficult to erase the perception of the people in other parts of India that every Kashmiri youth is not a terrorist. In addition the tag of terrorism on innocent youth will further alienate them even globally. Alienation of population in the rest of the country is bound to happen if this lethal tactics to strike at security forces and minority community in Kashmir is carried out. Some other likely ill effects could be polarisation between three regions of J&K, harassment of Kashmiri worker and traders may increase and students studying outside the Valley may face greater scrutiny. Trade and tourism will be severely affected, as a consequence unemployment and source of earning may shrink further. The trust deficit will widen and the Kashmiri people may even face harassment internationally. Therefore, the Kashmiri society, religious leaders and political parties must come together to denounce such acts of terrorism.

Measures to Prevent and Pre-empt Suicide Attacks.

It is imperative to deny targets to suicide attackers by making it difficult for terrorists to reach the desired objective. Every suspect is required to be kept under surveillance so that attacks are prevented and terrorists neutralised before they could execute attacks. The most effective weapon to defeat suicide attacks are intelligence agencies backed by sound electronic, surveillance and human intelligence. As part of the defensive mechanism there is a requirement to have layered security to vulnerable targets including installations so that even if the suicide bomber is able to penetrate one layer he is not allowed to breach another. Needless to say that it is extremely difficult for the security forces to provide layered security to a moving convoy. Therefore all prophylactic means have to be utilised. Thus it would be now almost mandatory for the security forces to deploy aerial surveillance. A soft strategy to hostile acts should be simultaneously explored. Perhaps the most pronounced aspect surrounding the adoption of suicide bombing is the role of religion. The religious teachings denouncing suicide attacks must be spread through social media and regular prayer sessions. In addition, there is a need to impress upon youth that hostile measures are unlikely to benefit future generations and society at large, and that such acts of violence rarely produce few clear victories.

Conclusion

Robert A. Pape, in his book “Dying to Win- the Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism” wrote that the most promising way to contain suicide terrorism is to reduce terrorists’ confidence in their ability to carry out such attacks on the target and the society. States that face persistent suicide terrorism should recognize that neither offensive military action nor concessions alone are likely to do much good and should invest significant resources in border defences and other means of homeland security. It is again reiterated that sound human intelligence backed by technology is the only weapon that can defeat the idea of “dying to win”.

This article is based upon my two visits to Kashmir in the recent past along with Maj. Gaurav Arya (retd.) and also on the notes of the Maj. Arya.

by- Raj Sharma ( ROBIN)

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BALKANS; SERBIA AND BOSNIA : HISTORY OF FLESH AND BLOOD

The communist years

“It is the powerful who writes the law of the world and the powerful who ignore these laws when expediency dictates.”

– GEN. Macmunn

 

This is what happened in the former Yugoslavia or Serbia and Bosnia, Balkans, a peninsular geographic location in the Europe which marked the revival of worst war crimes in Europe after World War 2. Before we move on to discuss the aspects of the war let us understand the background of the war.

The state of Yugoslavia emerged after World War 1 out of the Balkan territories of the former Ottoman Empire, bringing together a number of groups of Slavic ethnic peoples, each with its own desire for independent statehood. The new nation was creation of the powers that drafted the 1919 treaty of Versailles. Through most of its history, authoritarian governments forcibly united the country. When its communist leader, Joshep Broz Tito died in 1980, Yugoslavia slowly began to unravel. In 1987 when Slobodan Milosevic became the leader of the Serbian Ultranationalist movement, he lashed out with “ethnic cleansing” in the serb- dominated parts of Croatia. Croats and serbs had been the bitter enemies in world war 2. The Croatian Ustache militia had, with the help of German Army, rounded up serbs and placed them in the concentration camps. This history served as the Backdrop for the post – cold war violence in which serb military units “cleansed” areas of the croats, killing many and driving others into the refugee status.

UN initial involvement came in September 1991, when Security Council imposed arms embargo on Yugoslavia. The U.S. secretary General for State cyrus vance and UN representative Lord Owen concentrated the Vance-Owen plan, which envisioned the canonization of Bosnia, dividing the republic among Bosnian Muslim, Bosnian Serb and Croatian Communities. None of the parties was willing to accept the terms and the mission failed.

Bosnia proved to be the battleground for the most brutal Balkan fighting and the most violent war crimes. Bosnia and Herzegovina declared independence in March 1992 and became the member of the United Nations on May 22, 1992. Serb militias moved to drive out muslims  and croats. General Ratko Mladic, killed many muslims and croats and carried out a systematic campaign of rape and terror and created several death and detention centres, reminding of the Nazi concentration camps.

“I had come to Yugoslavia to see what history meant in flesh and blood.”

-Rebecca west

The UN was unsuccessful at ending the violence. The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation(NATO) also proved incapable of reaching a consensus on military measures that would halt the Serbian attacks. A UN protection force, UNPROFOR established was Security Council in early 1992 was sent to Yugoslavia but it proved to be ineffective.

After the brutal mortar attacks on the market place in Sarajevo, NATO pressured intensely by the Clinton’s government, bombed serb positions around the capital in august 1995. However before president could achieve a NATO commitment, under rules developed in the Security Council, he had to have the assent of the security general’s special representative and head of UNPROFOR. The special representative rejected requests for the air strikes on five occasions before authorizing a military response to the Sarajevo massacre, which led the U.S. govt. To seek action outside the UN framework.

Other offensive by Croatia and NATO forced Milsoveic to the bargaining table. Bill Clinton invited the leaders of Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia at Dayton, Ohio to hammer out an agreement. The Bosnian war ended with the negotiation of the Dayton Peace Accords in November 1995, which provided the United Nations to monitor the agreement through the Implementation Force (IFOR) made up of NATO troops to be replaced later by a Stabilization Force.

AFTERMATH OF THE WAR

International criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia was formed in 1994 as the first institution of international criminal prosecution since the end of World War 2. It was charged with indicting and trying suspected war criminals for crimes against humanity.

However even after combined NATO and UN intervention, international administrators experienced little cooperation from the local ethnic leaders in pacifying and reconstructing the country. The United Nations was given a minor role in post conflict Bosnia. Bosnia actually demonstrated the United States Unique position and its role in contemporary international affairs, the line of Gen. Macmunn at the beginning of this article explains this fact at its fullest. It also made clear the limitations of UN sponsored solutions.

Security Council’s resolution 1244 regarding autonomy of Kosovo can also be seen as the aftermath of the war. Kosovo still is a province which has got its autonomous state but is not recognized as a nation.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: Brig. S.P.S. Warriach jr. , Commandant Rajputana Rifles Regimental Center.

-RAJ Sharma (ROBIN)

 

RED COATS TO OLIVE GREEN

The indianisation of Indian army started way back in the late 1930s. Though the process was slow but it gained momentum in the early 1940s and went on full swing after the battle in Akaran coast. Where all Indian Brigade for the first time, commanded by Indian Officers fought along the lines of Kangaw front wrote a saga of bravery in the annals of highest traditions of Indian military.

It is worth mentioning that kangaw battle was considered tougher than the Kohima battle. Maj. Gen. Woods, commander 25 Division in a special order said

 “Every man who landed on the Kangaw beaches can recall the feat with pride”.

The British joined the Indian army for the higher pay and low cost of living in India in comparison with Britain. Moreover life in India offered a romance and quasi- aristocratic status which was no longer possible in the British Army. They saw Indians as their rivals who could prove a check on their unfettered aristocracy and finally take over their vacancies. In fact the pace of intake of Indian officers was kept slow even after the formation of Indian Military Academy in 1932. The excuse put forth was that there was no officer material in India. They were reluctant to accept Indians as their colleagues, share officer’s mess with them and allow them to know their weaknesses. Besides, British officers also apprehended that on becoming senior, Indian officers could command the unit and make junior British officers to work under them.

My Readers the journey from Red coats to Olive Green was not a cake walk. It required a lot of strategy and planning but the real challenge was the British mindset. Indians had to face a lot of discrimination and prejudice. The political pressure and British commitment forced the recruitment of Indian officers though even after the recruitment in the officer rank they faced a step-motherly like treatment. Here I remember an incident from the memoirs of Gen. Thimyya, when Thimyya failed to write a letter to his commanding officer upon his return from University Training Corps (UTC), Madras. The latter blurted angrily

“If… you have temerity to think that you and other Indians can be good officers, you are sadly mistaken; your behaviour proves it otherwise. You people just don’t have it in you.”

Such cases remained constant with all the memoirs of officers who signed on the line before Partition. At the same moment there were some british officers who actually planned the Indinaisation process. It is the result of these great Military generals because of whom Indian army was combat ready for action in Indian context led by Indian officers at the moment of transfer of power on the 15th day of august 1947. Some Noteworthy generals include Lt. Gen. Maccmun who also had been the member of the Indianisation committee or the Shea committee, 1922. Field Marshal Claude Auchinlek , he is often referred as the man behind Indianisation of Indian Army. He was loved by all especially by Indian soldiers and officers because of his simplicity and fairness. He always stressed upon the indenisation and left India with an army upon which Indians can be proud of.  At the time of partition he was the supreme commander of all British forces in India and Pakistan. Field Marshal Philip Chetwode, who inaugurated the Indian Military academy, his words at the passing out parade of the Pioneers of IMA formed the famous Chetwode Charter which is the credo of Indian Military Academy and of course for every Indian Officer and soldier till date.

THE SAFETY HONOUR AND WELFARE OF YOUR COUNTRY COMES FIRST ALWAYS AND EVERYTIME, THE HONOUR WELFARE AND COMFORT OF THE MEN YOU COMMAND COMES NEXT. THE HONOUR WELFARE AND YOUR OWN EASE COME LAST ALWAYS AND EVERYTIME.

The World War 2 came for the help of the disguised Indians. Now the British were forced to expand the Indian army and commission a large number Indians as officers. The strength of the Indian Army at the onset of the war was only 528. It increased to about 25 times by the end of the war in 1945. However Indians were kept away from crucial appointments. Further, they were not allowed to command British troops and command of Indian Battalions was given to them in rare cases.

What prompted the British to deny the command of units to Indian officers? Firstly the English were apprehensive about the loyalty of the Indians as they could never forgrt the 1857 uprising. The formation of INA (Indian National Army) augmented their apprehension. Loed Wavell then C-in-C of the Indian Army wrote about his interaction with Churchill –

“Churchill found another subject for criticism in the loyalty of Indian Army……The PM [Churchill] however, chose to read into Amery’s note, the impression that the Indian army was liable to rise at any moment, and he accused me [Wavell] of creating a Frankenstein by putting modern weapons in the hands of sepoys, spoke of 1857, and was really almost childish about it…. At a luncheon (on 24 June 1943), the PM took occasion to make some rather caustic references both to Arakan operations and to the Indian Army, which annoyed me…. I ignored the Arakan remarks but defended the Indian Army with some heat, and the PM said no more.”

Even one of the greatest generals of his time Lt. Gen. William Slim commander of XIVth Army was sad about Indian soldiers joining hands with the Japanese. Thus the 1857 factor coupled with the INA was a great source of mistrust.

Secondly the competence of the Indian officers was questioned by some British officers and commanders of the Indian Army. Thus, English discreetly coded the Indian officers as incompetent. Some British and other dominion officers did not like to work under an Indian officer. This racist feeling might have worked against assigning the command of a battalion to Indian officers. It could indeed be disastrous if a subordinate officer disobeyed the commander, especially during operations. A South African major, for instance, went up to his British superior appealing that he should not be commanded by an Indian. This South African was transferred to serve under a British officer elsewhere.

The Indian officers thus were largely kept away from the command appointments , a few however were given the command but hardly anyone lead during the active operations. The shift in policy came in the late 1944 and early 1945 when some of the Indian Officers were promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel making them eligible for the command of a unit.

MAKING OF AN ALL INDIA BRIGADE

During the Second World War, India was politically unstable. The Quit India Movement and demand for Independence further made things uncomfortable for the British in India. The issue of Indianisation and assigning the crucial roles to Indian officers was also raised time and again. As the Indian officers complained against the discrimination, the C-in-C Indian Army had to circulate letters to all commanders of Indian regiments and formations to stop such discrimination. General Auchinleck also visualised the serious implications of continued disregard of Indian officers in promotion and appointment matters. He asked Rudra, his adviser, to suggest six names of Indian officers for promotion to Lieutenant Colonel. This opened the door for the Indian Officers to command battalions. The political agitations, questions in Legislative Assembly and Council of State and the complaints of Indian officers for their rightful dues further compelled the British to initiate some strong measures. The British did not want to take any further risk of giving the Indians a chance to raise additional issues. To please the Indians, the British finally decided on the formation of an experimental ‘All India Brigade’ of three battalions.

The Brigade chosen for Indianisation was the 51st Indian Brigade pitched against the Japanese in the Arakan region of Burma. In 1944, the Brigade consisted of two Indian and one British battalion. The British battalion, the 8 York & Lancaster (8 Y&L) was moved out of the Brigade and an Indian battalion replaced it. When the commanding officer of 8/19 Hyderabad Regiment got wounded in heavy enemy shelling, KS Thimayya, the second-in-command was ordered to take over the command of the battalion. The British commanding officer of 2/2 Punjab Regiment (under 51 Brigade) became a casualty in November 1944. Lt Col SPP Thorat was brought to command the Battalion.LP Sen was appointed to command 16/10 Baluch Regiment which was a part of the 51st Brigade. Thus some recently promoted officers were assigned the responsibility of commanding the battalions. In tune with this, the ‘All India Brigade’ was raised and assigned a role to fight its maiden battle at Kangaw in the Arakan.

MAIDEN BATTLE FOR THE ALL INDIA BRIGADE

Kangaw lies on the costal side 50 mile south of Myohaung, the ancient capital of Arakan (in Burma). Being the only route of withdrawal for the Japanese it was important to both the Japanese and Allied forces. The Battle of Kangaw was fought in January-February 1945 and lasted for about three weeks. The issues of Fauji Akhbar continuously carried the news of raising of an ‘All India Brigade’ and the Kangaw battle in which it was engaged. The issue of 2 January 1945 recorded “For the first time in the history of Indian Army what is virtually an ‘All-India Brigade’ led by Indian commissioned officers has been in action.” Kangaw was termed as ‘the bloodiest battle of Arakan’ by Lord Mountbatten. Five squadrons of the Royal Indian Air Force supported the ground forces, while the Royal Indian Navy manned the assault and landing craft to land the troops on beachheads which later captured the village of Kangaw. It was again the first time that purely Indian formations had cooperated on such a large scale in the Burma war. Thus the Kangaw battle was unique in the annals of Indian military history.

The three senior Indian officers of the All India Brigade led their troops intelligently and courageously. It is evident from the fact that the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) was awarded to all the three Indian commanders for their creditable role in the Kangaw battle. Soon Thimayya, a battalion commander, was promoted to become the first Indian Brigade Commander, thereby paving the way for further promotions to Indian officers, up the military chain.

It is also notable that the at the time of partition the chief of staff of the GHQ at Delhi was an Indian, Brig. (temporary) Sam Manekshaw (who later rose to the rank of Field Marshall after the decisive victory of 1971 war with Pakistan.) The C-in-C of that time Gen. Sir Roy Bucher said, “Sam is the best officer any commander could have.” Manekshaw was also instrumental in the Kashmir conflict and was the member of the committee which drew the ceasefire line between India and Pakistan.

This is how the churning of the Red Coats to Olive Green took place. After the final transfer of power in 1947 the Indian Military commanders meticulously worked for the modernisation of Indian Army and removing the colonial features of the army wherever it was found necessary. It also adopted and innovated new techniques of warfare along with tactics and strategy based upon its learning from the contemporary situations especially those of the cold war era and post cold war era while keeping in mind the experiences which it had in the Second World War and the First World War. In the process the Indian army preserved the necessary aspects of the British design to keep up with the modern circumstances as this setup is a tried and tested method which always provides room for new changes. With no doubts within these years may this country might have failed to reach its desired goals but the Indian Army today stands at par with the all the elite forces of the globe and no doubt is one of the most powerful armies in the world but above all it is a moral army and not a imperialist and rouge one.

The title for this article has been adopted from the book Red coats to Olive green by Victor Longer.

In the sacred memory of all the fallen brave hearts who ever breathed on the Kangaw beaches and also for all others who fought at the Burma front in the Second World War against the Japanese.

– Raj Sharma (ROBIN)

A SOLDIER’S HABIT

For you contours are easy to read than the city maps,

You feel comfortable in jungles and get lost in metros.

For you time is in hundred hours and 3’o clock is a direction,

Distance is always in multiple of hundred meters and you keep on losing north.

When people meet near pubs, cafes and discos you meet near Bunkers . caves and culverts.

For you Kenwood and motorola are familiar brands and apple and blackberry are fruits.

You never knew cars, mobiles and bikes had a series The only series you know is the AK’S .

You remember the raising days , but forget the anniversary and Birthday.

When other talk of CEO and COO, you only know c with only one O, viz, “CO saab ”

For you lol and asap is Greek and you even look for them in C****

When others talk of pune bangalore and gurgaon you talk of poonch lalganj and bongaigaon.

For you The Safety honour and welfare of your country comes first always and everytime and women will be from Venus always and everytime.

For you green and blue are own , Red and pink danger zones.

For you the choice of arms and ammunition was more painful than breaking up. And chasing girls tougher than marching up.

You will travel hundred miles to meet her but will expect her to walk the last five steps.

You can take darbar of thousands of rusty men for three hours but will be afraid to speak three magical words.

You will crack any code or language , but one line of hers with few dots and exclamation will confuse you.

For all those who think him to be a knucklehead , he is actually a exemplary gentleman who is perfect from Bunkers to ballroom. Who thinks about his fellow countrymen before himself………….. Protecting his motherland ……..A PROUD SOLDIER.

It is for you my dad, My Commanding Officer ….. Love you

THE FORGOTTEN HEROES OF BATTLE OF REZANG LA.

“If you know the enemy and yourself, you need not fear the result of hindered battles,

If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained, you will also suffer defeat,

If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle”.

-Sun Tzu

 

We cannot reverse history, but no self respecting Indian soldier or citizen would like to ever remember the ignominy of the rout of the Indian Army in 1962 Sino- Indian War. There was nothing to cheer or feel proud of total unprofessional defeat, except the sympathies for the families of fallen soldiers whose lives could perhaps be saved with adequate and appropriate modern equipment, training coupled with apt diplomacy, political will and military leadership then found missing. In that chaos the boys of 13 KUMAON wrote history at Rezang la.

The heroes of rezang la wrote a saga and it is the greatest battle fought by Indian army post Independence. Military historians consider it to be one of the finest and greatest battle fought in the history of mankind it is often compared with the famous battle of saragrahi and battle of thermopyle.

On night 17-18 November around 2200 hrs, a heavy snow storm was leashed in the battle zone for nearly two hours. After the snow storm, visibility improved to 600 meters. At 0200 hrs, LP ahead of 8 Platoon observed a large body of Chinese soldiers swarming through the gullies at a distance of about 700-800 meters moving from the pass. Lance Naik Brij Lal the LP commander ran back to Platoon Headquarters to in inform this unusual development. He, with his Section Commander Hukam Chand and one LMG were rushed as reinforcement to the post. By then the Chinese had advanced with in firing range of small arms from the post. The LP fired a pre-determined red Verey Light signal along with long bursts of LMG fire, warning the C Company to ‘stand to’ in their dug out positions. Similarly, 7 Platoon’s LP on the forward slopes also saw Chinese forming up and the entire C Company was alerted. Maj Shaitan Singh immediately contacted his sub-unit commanders on the radio communication who confirmed that all ranks were ready in their battle positions. Since the paucity of troops had caused wide gaps in 7 and 9 Platoon localities, he also ordered 9 Platoon to send a patrol to ascertain the situation. The patrol confirmed massive Chinese build up had taken place through the gullies. Though, the Chinese had brought their assaulting troops to their forward assembly areas under the cover of inclement weather, their intensions to shock the defenders with silent surprise attack had failed miserably in all aspects.

All ranks of the Charlie Company with their fingers on triggers, waited patiently for the impending major frontal attack on their positions around first light with improving visibility. Around 0500 hrs, the first wave of the Chinese were spotted through their personal weapon sights by every Ahir manning the defences and hail of LMGs, MMGs and mortars fire greeted the enemy. Scores of the enemy died, many were wounded but rest duly reinforced continued to advance. Soon all the gullies leading to Rezang La were full of Chinese corpses. Constant wave after wave of the Chinese launched four more attacks that were beaten back that dwindled defenders strength and ammunition as many Ahirs fell fighting. As the fifth attack was launched, Naik Chandgi Ram, a wrestler of repute led his comrades with bayonet charge killing 6-7 Chinese single handedly till he fell to martyrdom. There were some skirmishes with the Chinese patrols that too were beaten back but one such patrol had severed the telephone line leading to the Battalion Headquarters. By about 0545 hrs, the Chinese frontal attack was beaten back and failed.

By now, the Chinese realized Rezang La was not a cake walk and changed their operational plan. Rezang La was resorted to heavy artillery shelling and to destroy field fortifications they used concentrated fire of 75 mm recoilless (RCL) guns brought on wheel barrows from the flanks. The deep craters near the Company Command Post (CP) indicated use of 132 mm rockets. The Chinese shelling was a spectacular display of fire power against defenders who had no artillery support and no bunker on the Rezang La feature, re-visited after 3 months in February 1963, was seen could bear the preponderance of enemy’s devastating artillery fire.

The Chinese started regrouping for a long detour over 7 Platoon positions that had no survivors. A little distance away Naik Sahi Ram the only survivor detached from his platoon waited for the enemy to assemble and let them have it with accurate LMG fire. The Chinese dispersed and Sahi Ram waited for the next wave that came with RCL guns and blasted his lone firing position. Major Shaitan Singh re grouped his dwindling assets to charge the advancing Chinese. Since all the platoon positions had been overrun with no survivors, the enemy was re-grouping to assault the C Company Headquarters after heavy pounding. While moving from one gun position to other, motivating his depleted command, Major Shaitan Singh was hit by the enemy LMG fire on his arm but undaunted he kept motivating, regrouping and reorganizing his handful men and weapons. His Company Havildar Major (CHM) Harphool Singh kept persuading him to move to safer place with few survivors who could walk .Ahir guns kept firing till silenced but camouflaged sniping enemy MMG covering the flank fired long bursts killing many. Maj Shaitan Singh was hit again severely in the abdomen. Grievously injured and bleeding profusely he was pulled by Phool Singh and Jai Narain to safer place behind a boulder and bandaged his wounds. Since there was no line or radio communication, he ordered Phool Singh and Jainarain to leave him and rush to the Battalion Headquarters and froze to martyrdom in the night. In the Spanggur Gap, 1/8 GR fought bravely with artillery support by Lt Goswami and troops of tanks commanded by 2 Lt Baswani firing and destroying the enemy. While the Chinese kept swarming to capture Gurung Hill, held by the company of 1/8 GR under command Capt PL Kher, Goswami to give closest support, ordered to fire on his own observation post (OP) position that killed 3 other ranks and severely wounding Goswami whose frost bitten legs had to be amputated later. He was decorated with well deserved Maha Vir Chakra (MVC) for his heroics.

The Chinese massive two-pronged advance and offensive embarked to secure Chushul succeeded with heavy causalities on both sides. The remoteness of Mugger Hill, Gurung Hill, both the Brigade and Battalion Headquarters and A Company as brigade reserve, negated the possibility of  any reinforcement or counter attack at Rezang La.

The Chinese did not attack Mugger Hill on 18 November but shelled it heavily. B Company had good observation of the Spanggur Gap and directed artillery fire on the enemy gun positions. D Company had sent patrol to Rezang La under Naik Roop Ram and was engaged by the enemy MMG that killed two and wounding another two soldiers. Enemy fired over 600 shells on Battalion Headquarters but there was mercifully not a single causality.

 

The Honours and the Awards

Every soldier out numbered 10 to 1, who fought and died at Rezang La, was a national hero and deserved a gallantry award. But wars are never fought for personal glory or award. Major Shaitan Singh was conferred with the Param Vir Chakra-the country’s highest gallantry award posthumously. Of the others, Jemadar Hari Ram*, Jemadar Surja* Jemadar Ram Chander, Naik Hukam Singh*, Naik Gulab Singh* Naik Ram Kumar Yadav*, Lance Naik Singh Ram * Sepoy (Nursing Assistant) Dharam Pal Dhaiya* were decorated with Vir Chakra and CHM Harphool Singh*, Havildar Jai Narain, Havildar Phul Singh and Sepoy Nihal Singh were decorated with Sena Medal each, while Jemadar Jai Narain* was mentioned-in-dispatches. Brigadier TN Raina, another die hard Kumaoni and the inspiring Brigade Commander of the 114 Infantry Brigade deployed for the defence of the Chushul was awarded country’s second highest gallantry award Maha Vir Chakra while Lt Col HS Dhingra, the Commanding Officer of 13 Kumaon was warded Ati Vashisht Seva Medal for his inspiring leadership under adverse battle conditions. The Battalion was also awarded ‘The Battle Honour Rezang La’ and ‘The Theatre Honour Ladakh’

. On 18 November 2015, I stood close to the Memorial, overlooking the massive Rezang La feature, in biting chilly winds, I had the unique privilege and honour to pay my homage to Rezang La warriors with pride and tears in my eyes, as I read the inscription on the marble slab as under: –

 

“How Can A Man Die Better?

Than Facing Fearful Odds,

For The Ashes Of His Fathers,

And Temples Of His Gods.”

 

-Lord Maculay

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: My mentor Col. N.N. Bhatia (Retd.), under whose proper guidance I presented this work.

In the sacred memory of 144 Martyrs of C Coy 13 Kumaon Regiment who fought till the last man and last round, against hordes of Chinese on 18 November 1962.

Written By – Raj Sharma under guidance of Col. N.N. Bhatia(Retd.).

 

About the Author-

Raj under the pen name of Raj Sharma is an undergraduate student of history in University of Delhi. He is currently enrolled in the USI of India as a fellow in its Centre for Armed Forces Historical Studies and Research. He is well informed about military strategy and war history of Indian army. He has worked upon Indian contribution in the World War 1.

About the Guide-

Col. N.N. Bhatia, a retired army officer from 13 Kumaon regiment in a 3rd generation Indian army soldier who has seen action in 1965 and 1971 both. He currently devotes much of time in armed forces historical research and has had his PHD in World War 1 and 2 both.

 

THIS IS PARTS OF PAPER PUBLISHED IN USI OF INDIA FOR THE ENTIRE WORK ON REZANG LA PLEASE DROP AN E-MAIL AT rajsharma56959@gmail.com.

 

DADDY’S DAUGHTER

 

 

Her hair was up in a pony tail, her favorite dress tied with a bow.

Today was Daddy’s Day at school, and she couldn’t wait to go.

 

But her mommy tried to tell her, that she probably should stay home;

‘Cause the kids might not understand, if she went to school alone.

 

But she was not afraid; she knew just what to say.

What to tell her classmates of why he wasn’t there today.

 

But still her mother worried, for her to face this day alone.

And that was why, once again, she tried to keep her daughter home. 

 

But the little girl went to school, eager to tell them all.

About a dad she never sees, a dad who never calls.

 

There were daddies along the wall in back, for everyone to meet.

One by one the teacher called on a student from the class;

To introduce their daddy, as seconds slowly passed.

 

At last the teacher called her name, every child turned to stare.

Each of them was searching, for a man who wasn’t there.

 

“Where’s her daddy at?” she heard a boy call out.

“She probably doesn’t have one,” another student dared to shout.

 

And from somewhere near the back, she heard a daddy say,

“Looks like another deadbeat dad, too busy to waste his day.”

 

The words did not offend her, as she smiled up at her Mom.

And looked back at her teacher, who told her to go on.

 

And with hands behind her back, slowly she began to speak.

And out from the mouth of a child, came words incredibly unique.

 

“My Daddy couldn’t be here, because he lives so far away.

But I know he wishes he could be, since this is such a special day.

 

And though you cannot meet him, I want you all to know

All about my daddy, and how much he loves me so.

 

He loved to tell me stories, taught me to ride my bike;

Surprised me with pink roses, and taught me to fly a kite.

 

We used to share icecream  in a single cone.

And though you cannot see him, I’m not standing here alone.

 

‘Cause my daddy’s always with me, even though we are apart;

I know because he told me, he’ll forever be in my heart”

 

With that, her little hand reached up, and lay across her chest.

Feeling her own heartbeat, beneath her favorite dress.

 

And somewhere there in the crowd of dads, her mother stood in tears.

Proudly watching her daughter, who was wise beyond her years.

 

For she stood up for the love of a man who wasn’t in her life.

Doing what was best for her, doing what was a right.

 

And then she dropped her hand back down, staring straight into the crowd.

She finished with a voice so soft, but a message so clear and loud:

 

“I love my daddy very much, he is my shining star.

And if he could, he would be here, but heaven’s just too far.

 

He was an Indian Soldier, he died just this past year,

When the enemy bombed his bunker and taught all Indians to fear.

 

But sometimes when I close my eyes, it’s like he never went away.”

And then she closed her eyes, and saw him there that day.

 

And to her mother’s amazement, she witnessed with surprise,

A room full of daddies and children, all starting to close their eyes.

 

Who knows what they saw before them; who knows what they felt inside. 

Perhaps for merely a second, they saw him at her side.

 

“I know you’re with me Daddy,” to the silence she called out.

And what happened next made believers, of those once filled with doubt.

 

Not one in that room could explain it, for each of their eyes had been closed.

But there on the desk beside her, was a fragrant long-stemmed pink rose.

 

And a child was blessed, if only for a moment, by the love of her shining star.

And given the gift of believing, that heaven is never too far. 

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT : SUB. MAJ. Bheem Bahadur Gurung because of whom this poem got published in ADGPI- INDIAN ARMY. Gurung saab …. jai hind saab.

In the loving memory of my dear friend Nandita Dagar, who lost her daddy Lt. col. Cheema Dagar during operation Rhino.

 

INTO THE THE BATTLE OF NEUVE CHAPELLE

The naked Earth is warm with spring,

And with green grass and bursting trees.

Leans to the sun’s gaze glorifying

And quivers in the loving breeze;

And life is colour with warmth and light;

And a striving evermore for these;

And he is dead, who will not fight;

And who dies fighting has increase.

 

The fighting man shall from the sun

Take warmth and life from the glowing Earth;

Speed with the light foot winds to run,

And with the trees a newer birth;

And find when fighting shall be done;

Great rest and fullness after dearth.

 

All the bright company of heaven

Hold him in their high comradeship-

The Dog Star, and the sisters’ seven,

Orion’s belt and sworded hip.

 

 

The woodland trees that stand together,

They stand to him each one as a friend;

They gently speak in the windy weather;

They guide valley and ridge’s end.

 

The kestrel hovering by the day,

And the little owls that call by night,

Bid him be swift and keen as they-

As keen of sound, as swift of sight.

 

The black bird sings to him,

‘Brother’, ‘brother’,

If this be the last song you shall sing,

Sing well, for you will not sing another;

Brother, sing.

 

In dreary doubtful waiting hours,

Before the brazen frenzy starts,

The horses show him nobler powers;

O patient eyes, courageous hearts

 

And when the burning moment breaks,

And everything else is out of mind,

And joy of battle only takes

Him by throat, and makes him blind

Through joy and blindness he shall know.

Not caring much to know, that still

Nor lead nor steel shall reach him,

So that it is not the destined will.

 

The thundering line of battle stands,

And in the death moans and sings;

But day shall clasp him with strong hands.

Hands: hands; of Neuve Chapelle.

And shall fold him with softer wings

Wings: wings; of Neuve Chapelle.

 

-In the loving memory of Indian soldiers who fought at the battle of Neuve Chapelle, France. Especially to those brave souls who were reported missing in this battle. A tribute to the souls of these men not as an act of celebration but as an act of commemoration for their supreme sacrifice in the highest traditions of French, British and Indian military history.

 

– RAJ SHARMA