20 years after Kargil; veterans say surgical, air strikes testimony of New India

Sanjeev K. Sharma
JAMMU, July 20: While the nation is celebrating two decades of successful “Operation Vijay” where the belligerent neighbour was badly defeated by mighty Indian Army in Kargil war, veterans of Indian Army now see a big change in Indian political will to make the enemy shiver down the spine.
“Look this is the testimony of new India. Just see how after 12 days of Pulwama terrorist attack India launched airstrikes in Balakote and smashed terrorist launch pads on enemy soil and how the panicked Pakistan was forced to release our pilot Abhinandan in no time, while, the same never happened earlier as prisoners of 1971 and 1965 Indo-Pak wars are still languishing in Pakistani jails,” said Goverdhan Singh Jamwal-a retired Major General of Indian Army.
“Pakistan now very well knows that if it launches any more terrorist attack on Indian soil then Lahore might be the next target of Indian strike,” the General who fought Indo-Pak war in 1948 in Uri sector of Kashmir and led troops in 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak wars said, adding that air and surgical strikes are selected and well prepared operations.
He termed Kargil intrusion as misadventure by the then Pakistan army chief, General Parvez Musharraf to capture Ladakh which will have Siachen cut off automatically to go to their side.
“It was a pre-planned task which Musharraf had conceived in his mind when he was a junior commander and he even kept then Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharief in dark on the intrusion,” General Jamwal informed.
He said that Musharraf clearly knew that India can’t be defeated militarily by fighting war as same was earlier established in 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak wars which gave Pakistan a crushing defeat and Pakistan sponsored militancy in Kashmir too had failed.
“So he (Musharraf) tried Kargil misadventure which too failed,” General Jamwal maintained.
“The Kargil war was something that took Indian Army all of a surprise for which we were not prepared but still our troops proved their mettle as Indian response was very matured where the whole nation joined to boost their army and TV channels played a big role by taking war to every home in the country,” the General said adding that earlier Indian public had no idea as to what happens in a war.
“It was the time of Kargil war where almost every Indian became familiar about how troops climbed mountains, how they fired, how they suffer injuries and casualties etc and TV sets did this,” he said.
“Earlier wars were away from public eyes and even sometimes dead bodies were not received by the family members of the soldiers,” the General maintained adding that after Kargil war respect for Indian Army increased manifolds.
On how to avoid such misadventures of the enemy in future, the retired General was prompt to say, “Arms and ammunition should not be left to rust in arsenals but these should be put to use.”
“Intelligence also needs to be strengthened as Kargil was also an intelligence failure. However, people of Kargil gave initial inputs to Army about intrusion as Army was having good relations with the locals there,” Jamwal said.
“Pakistan has compulsions to go for such misadventures as it wants to remain in good books of some Kashmiris. The belligerent neighbour uses poor Muslims for such attacks while its army enjoys comforts there and is well off with its officers owing factories, big farms, petrol pumps etc,” the General informed.
Another veteran Colonel (retired) Varinder Sahi, Vir Chakra awardee also president of War Decorated India and a defence commentator, said that Kargil war was well fought by Indian Army with poor Government policies at that time.
The Colonel claimed that things are very much different now as the then Government was reluctant in permitting troops cross the LoC while now our forces have launched successful surgical and airstrikes deep inside enemy’s land.
Sahi termed Kargil intrusion as a coward and dishonest operation by Pakistan which was tightly slapped by the Indian Army.
“Shamefully the height of dishonesty displayed by Pakistan was to the extent that it even disowned its dead soldiers,” the Colonel said.
“As far as our troops are concerned the response to intrusion was very much talented and brave where weak Government policy resulted in large number of casualties on our side,” he said adding that hills in Kargil are vertical towards our side with 70-80 degree inclination while slope to the other side is gradual. Our boys had to climb vertically where enemy was well prepared and secure in trenches.
“Correct strategy would be to go from behind the enemy either by infiltrating or by para-dropping troops by helicopters to take the enemy by surprise. That would have reduced our casualty and time of war,” he maintained.
“Government’s reluctance on not crossing over to Pak occupied J&K resulted in more loss of our men and enemy got an opportunity to runaway as the entire track was open for infiltrators to escape on their side,” he maintained calling it an operation weakly supported by Government but bravely fought by troops.
On Air Force strikes by India, he said that it supported Indian troops as trenches and bunkers of enemy were smashed and their weapons were destroyed which reduced the killing capacity of enemy.
On how to avoid a future Kargil, he said that enemies within the country should be dealt first and quoted reports to say that number of terrorists are very less than number of over ground workers in Kashmir at present.
“They (terrorists and infiltrators) will keep on coming to this side as long as Biryani is served to them. They know, if anyhow, they get trapped by Indian troops then stone pelters will come to rescue them,” the veteran of Indian Army said.
“Next time India should launch missiles strikes as we have missiles with capacities to hit targets at large distances. Moreover, Air Force will not prefer to risk life of our pilots in air strikes. If anyhow, in retaliation the enemy also fires missiles, still no problem then as we have missiles which can smash enemy missiles much before reaching our land,” Col Sahi maintained.
Yet, another veteran, Captain Bana Singh (J&K’s lone recipient of Param Vir Chakra-highest gallantry award in Indian army) termed the surgical and air strikes by Indian Forces on terrorist camps in Pakistan as ‘just a demo’ against the misadventures of ‘wicked neighbour’.
“Now Pakistan has realized Indian might as public and Army in India are in high spirits at present,” Singh said adding that Pakistan was forced to release Indian pilot Abhindan as it knew India will launch a more stringent strike for its pilot which may have cost heavily to Pakistan.
Abhinandan was Indian pilot and during air strikes he fell into enemy land and was captured by enemy as his fighter plane crashed there before destroying Pakistan’s F-16 war plane.
Bana Singh also said that there is no problem if Pakistan sends terrorists to Kashmir as Indian Army is well prepared to deal them.
“We defeated Pakistan in 1948, 1965, 1971 and also in 1999 but still it is not mending ways and starts madly firing and shelling on Indian side along Line of Control (LoC) and International Border (IB) in J&K,” he said.
He also said that today we are living in a new India with strong political will with our Government and where entire nation is with its Army which guards borders so that our people sleep fearlessly.
Singh called Pakistan a ‘tiny nation’ and added that many times Indian PM has asked it to come for talks by shunning terrorist activities but indiscipline is ruling the roost in that country.
“See the history every Pakistan PM faced jail and that is their level of discipline,” he maintained