… From Across ‘The Line’


And don’t say that you’ve made a sacrifice,
because the one who’s made the sacrifice is me,
and don’t use any more lofty words
because, father, I’m already buried deep.

Dear father, when you’re standing over my grave
old and tired and childless and lonely,
and you see them lowering me into the dirt
then, father, ask for forgiveness from me.

lines from 'Queen of the Bathtub by Hanoch Levin excerpted from Maria Rashid's 'Dying to Serve'

The picture above was taken by Lieutenant Allah Noor Afridi as I stood atop an observation bunker overlooking Batalik sector in early May. In the center between the rising ridge lines is the spot where Indus, with all its rage contained into a narrow gushing stream by the towering mountains enters Pakistan. We were a couple of hours hike from the gun position and I was brought here to familiarize myself with the forward posts in our Area of Responsibility (AOR). Lieutenant Afridi in the typical map reading lingo had indicated to me a few landmarks. On the spur in the middle distance rising towards our left there were (if I remember correctly) Suspoon-1 and Suspoon-2, the Indian forward posts. A further leftwards and up (not pictured) was Shangruti the prized top with Pakistan. Having spent a while telescoping our eyes onto the ‘humps and slopes’ we returned to Niazi Gun Postion, located on a relatively flat top near the village named Marol. Under the full view of the onlooking Indian posts Niazi was a suicidal spot to fire from, but then Kargil was still a quarter of a year away. To a present day visitor, the gun position stands abandoned as in the days preceding the ‘Kargil Adventure’ it was moved under cover of the western slopes of village Ganokh.

What Survives of the Entrance : Abandoned Niazi Gun Position
Helipad amidst the bunkers : Abandoned Niazi Gun Position

A Ghumman in Batalik

The area we familiarized ourselves with in the preceding paragraph were the very grounds my friend and course-mate Lieutenant Faisal Zia Ghumman must have walked a few months after me. From here he ventured beyond the Shangruti top into the very heart of Batalik. The sector where the heights were still covered in April snow when Indians got the very first inkling of Pakistani intrusion from the shepherds of Garkund and Kokarthang grazing their stock on these tricky slopes. It was here in Batalik sector, away from the media glare of Tololing and Tiger Hill of Dras that the bloodiest of battles from the Kargil conflict were fought. It was the sector that suffered the heaviest of losses both for the intruders and the counter attackers. It was here somewhere near Munthu Dhalo or Pt. 4812 near Kalubhar where Lieutenant Ghumman might have fought his last battle, breathed his last and for his gallantry was posthumously decorated with Sitara-e-Jurrat.

Lieutenant Faisal Zia Ghumman Shaheed, SJ – 33 Frontier Force

Accompanying ‘Tiwana’ to Siari

A few days before I stood atop that bunker overlooking Batalik sector, I was at Skardu. A Second Lieutenant fresh from the Academy reporting to the regimental headquarters of Abbasia on to his very first operational posting. Having acclimatized myself to Skardu’s height and weather, which meant a non-stop scaling of Kharpachu knoll for seven consecutive days without a break, I was ready to be ‘dispatched’ to operational area reconnaissance. The first stop was the gun positions at Siari – Frano ahead of Piun. Piun dear reader, that is reached after a day’s stretch on the road passing through Khaplu (my readers would fondly recall it as Khaplu of Allah Rakhi). Getting ready to accompany Major Latif my battery commander as we waited for HMT (Hired Mechanical Transport) were told that “Tiwana” was headed that way and would gladly drive us in a military jeep, Toyota RKR. And then there he was, the first of our Platoon Commanders I saw after wearing the rank. Major Tiwana, with all the grace, respect, fear and hesitation, an inherent mix that we cadets develop towards our Platoon Commanders.

A day long drive to Piun does not have much of a highlight where Majors Latif and Tiwana conversed most of the time and I a much junior officer sat on the back seat planks facing a direction perpendicular to the jeep velocity, which dear reader, is not a very pleasant position to be in long journeys. My fan moment came when the trio after being welcomed at the Headquarters of a Northern Light Infantry Battalion was eating supper in officers mess. Courtesy to the NLI CO, on the dinner table I was crowned ‘The Youngest Officer in Shyok Sector’ (it was my 20th day as a commissioned officer). The NLI regiment’s shield presented as a memento that evening still decorates my collection. The next day the drive was resumed and at the end of our journey at Siari we bid farewell to Major Tiwana who headed to Company Headquarters.

Somewhere near Siari – Frano is the spot where Shyok enters Pakistan and where there’s a qadeemi qabrastan. From both sides of Shyok stream, the ridge line starts rising again reaching the formidable height index of 18000 ft and beyond. There we had our forward posts named Taimoor, Faryad, Tariq and many others. This theater faced Indian Chorbat La. Pakistani offensive into this challenging terrain had met an initial setback, of which we shall talk in a bit, and this sector was then subjected to medium and field artillery duels in the coming days. It was in one such artillery bombardment towards the mid of July that Major Tiwana embraced shahadat. He was posthumously awarded Tamgha-E-Basalat.

Major Ahmed Khan Tiwana, TBt – 9 Frontier Force | 7 Northern Light Infantry – Photo via Twitter by @leftofthepincer

The Fortunate Ones …

… and Others Buried in Snow

Not very far from Y Block in DHA Lahore is a graveyard with neatly laid out grave plots on green grassy patches. Here lies buried my friend and course-mate Lieutenant Faisal Zia Ghumman, Sitara-E-Jurrat, the very first shaheed of 96th PMA Long Course from the Kargil Conflict. Both Lieutenant Ghumman and Major Tiwana’s bodies were recovered and buried in their respective areas with full military honour. Not everyone fighting on the desolate heights of Batalik and Chorbat La and Kargil was that fortunate.

Lieutenant Faisal Zia Ghumman Shaheed

From DHA Graveyard we return to Major Tiwana’s location facing Chorbat La. It was early June when the initial exploits of the battalion were ambushed by Ladakh Scouts. Captain Farhat Haseeb Haider of Talagang while leading a body of 10 Jawans charged on a counter attack and never came back. Colonel Moeen Yusuf Khan, his course-mate tells us that a sepoy, the sole survivor from the raid confirmed Haseeb’s shahadat. The officer was duly rewarded for his bravery but the body of the first Sitara e Jurrat of 89th PMA Long Course could not be recovered.

Just three days before in the same sector, Indians were trying to scale the formidable heights in Turtuk desperate to secure a foothold. A daring dash by a patrol of 11 Rajputana Rifles led by Captain Haneef Uddin was met with stiff resistance. The attack failed with heavy losses with the daring Captain among the casualties. For conspicuous bravery in the face of imminent danger he was awarded Vir Chakra. For some time our both Captains Farhat Haseeb Haider of 7 NLI and Haneef Uddin of 11 RAJRIF shared the same fate, with their bodies lying on the snowy slopes astride Shyok too difficult to be recovered due to treacherous weather conditions and the heavy volume of all arms fire. Captain Haneef’s body was recovered at the end of war and was buried in Delhi with full military honours. Captain Farhat Haseeb Haider lies buried under some unmarked boulder across the divide in a foreign land.

Captain Haneef Uddin VrC – 11 Rajputana Rifles – Image from Facebook Page
Captain Farhat Haseeb Haider, SJ – 9 Punjab | 7 Northern Light Infantry – Image from an article by Colonel Moeen Yusuf Khan published in Hilal English

The Formidable Majors of Tololing

Op Vijay, launched by India to reclaim the lost heights in Kargil began with disastrous consequences. By the end of May it had failed to materialize any tangible gains and had added body bags for India in considerable count. It was around mid June that Indian determination to push the impetus of attack supported by some innovative artillery fire power and complete supremacy in air started to bear some fruit. From the stretch of Turtuk and Batalik, we dear reader, now return to more accessible towns of Dras and Kargil and with it come to us two iconic names, Tololing and Tiger Hill, the much showcased prize for India from the Kargil conflict. The conflict here was a televised affair and the battles fought here truly the show battles. A lot many of us would remember the blinding flash and deafening thunder of Bofors and other medium artillery guns pounding the Tololing and Tiger Hill heights in direct firing role. The occupants of the posts on these localities were battered and shattered by the artillery shelling and air bombardment but they stayed put holding onto what they had won till the last of their ammunition and breath. Totally cut off from the replenishment lines, ditched by their army and government they preferred death over disgrace.

The officers of 2 Rajputana Rifles remember the night of 28/29th June with an innate pride yet in a solemn tone. This was when they won back Three Pimples – Black Rock complex giving them the Tololing Ridge in its entirety. Soon after the Kargil had been won, Major Sandeep Bajaj in a televised talk revisited the night of attack. His eyes locked on to that invisible moment from recent past, his lips went on narrating the bits. After the attack was over as they were combing the captured objective, there in crystal clear night they came across the three Indian dead. The bodies of ‘Archie’ (Major Padmapani Acharya the company commander, Maha Vir Chakr), ‘Anand’ (company commanders rifleman runner) and ‘Vijayant’ (Captain Vijayant Thapar, Vir Chakra) lying close with their faces reflecting the gentle moonlight. And then there were Pakistani dead mentioned by Major Sandeep with compassion but we don’t get any names.

Going by the Pakistani accounts from soldiers who were in that battle, among the Pakistani dead there must have been the lionheart from Astore, Major Abdul Wahab of 6 NLI. The officer had volunteered for posting to war-zone and got posted to 6 NLI in Buniyal sub-sector. Those who fought beside him narrated his tale of valour. Mortally wounded with enemy fire with very little hope of making it alive he pushed the surviving ones to extricate. Instead of becoming a drag to be carried on someone’s shoulder he stayed put. His last image as recalled by his retreating jawans is that of a profusely bleeding Major sahib desperately struggling with his weapon held in a firing position ready to give one last dash onto the assaulting enemy. Major Abdul Wahab was awarded Sitar e Jurrat. The officer’s body along with others who fell on Tololing was never recovered.

Major Abdul Wahab, SJ, TBt – 32 Baloch | 6 Northern Light Infantry – Image source Pakistan Defence Facebook Page
One of the “Three Indian Deads” – Major Padmapani Acharya, MVC – 2 Rajputana Rifles
Captain Vijayant Thapar, VrC – from “The Band” 2 Rajputana Rifles | The Picture is added to honour the Proud Father of the martyr Col V N Thapar visiting this post and leaving his thoughts in the comments section of this article.

Tiger 1 Over, Tiger 2 Over

Karnal Sher and Ammar

My unit officer once posted as observer in a United Nations mission had Indian counterparts in the same contingent. Upon repatriation he shared a story with me. Indian officers while conversing with each other would address the officer ranks with unique call signs. Tiger 1, Tiger 2 and so on. Initially amazed on the practice the officer was to discover later that the unit was 18 Grenadiers the victors of Tiger Hill, the most revered Indian war trophy from the Kargil conflict. Tiger Hill, the high ridge not very far from Tololing. It was here that 8 Sikh initially securing a foothold was almost uprooted by the ferocious counter attack of a handful of 12 NLI soldiers daringly led by Captain Karnal Sher Khan the winner of Nishan e Haider. Such was the ferocity of his attack that 8 Sikh had to be reinforced with another unit 18 Grenadiers. Brigadier M.P.S. Bajwa, the Brigade Commander in his throwback memories of the war recalls that it was the “fierce attack” by two Pakistani officers Captain Khan of 12 NLI and a Major from Special Services Group that had killed two JCOs and 14 soldiers of 8 Sikh at India Gate. It was Sepoy Satpal Singh of 8 Sikhs who shot the ‘man in track suit’, our gallant Captain Sher and when he fell the battle was over. Brigadier Bajwa remembers burying around 30 dead but sending the gallant Captain’s body down from Tiger Hill. The body was returned to Pakistan along with a citation for bravery, but the SSG Captain along with the other dead of 12 NLI met a different fate.

Body of Capt Karnal Sher Khan of 12 NLI , who was awarded Nishan-e-Haider, the highest Military Award of Pakistan | Picture by Brig MPS Bajwa

The brave SSG Captain who accompanied Sher in the daring counter attack was Captain Muhammad Ammar Hussain of 1 Commando Battalion. The officer for his valour earned Sitara e Jurrat. A roundabout in Chaklala, Rawalpindi is named after him as Ammar Shaheed Chowk. As per Indian narrative the bodies were buried in situ on the slopes of Tiger Hill where the soldiers fell. 7 of these were however saved for a later burial and moved atop another height nicknamed ‘Gun Hill’ after the heavy pounding it received from the mortar and artillery fire.

Captain Muhammad Ammar Hussain, SJ – 63 Frontier Force | 1 Commando Battalion

Associated Press has a video where the burial of the seven soldiers in a shallow pit serving as a combined grave was shown to the reporters and televised on the media. A unit Khateeb reading out a silent prayer as the bodies clad in Pakistani flag were lowered into their rocky abode. The flags were removed and we see Indian soldiers covering the bodies of their dead opponents with the excavated scree, as much as it could be excavated on rocky bed of Himalayas. A wooden board affixed as a makeshift headstone bears the inscription ‘PAK – 12 NLI’ on it. The Khateeb then rubs his hands raised in a prayer on his face and chest as if blessing himself with the invisible supplication, an indication that the prayer is now concluded, and the ceremony comes to a close. There won’t be any last post sounded for these brave souls. The very country that sent them into battle never wanted their bodies to be sent back.

Paltan Ki Izzat

19 Frontier Force Regiment

In 2011 the year of my voluntary retirement, yet again posted to Himalayas in the rank of Major, I happened to be part of a Corps Study Panel. The theme was to study and revise the existing motivational model of a Pakistan Army soldier. Our case study involved soldiers from a number of different armies of the world in live combat asking the primary question as to what makes a soldier to fight. The answer was simple, Esprit de Corps. While it’s necessary to have an ideology with a system of belief, what makes a soldier to fight into the very alleys of death is his buddy, his platoon and the honour of his Unit (Paltan ki Izzat).

The commanding officer of 19 Frontier Force, fighting the battle of Kargil went to unprecedented limits to secure his Paltan ki Izzat. His unit fought one of the last battles on Zulu Spur at Tiger Hills. The officer under orders to retreat wasn’t willing to go back without claiming his battalion’s dead. A wireless message was relayed by Commanding Officer of 3/3 Gorkha Rifles (the Indian outfit fighting the 19 Frontier Force) onto the Brigade Commander, Brigadier M.P.S. Bajwa that a Pakistani Commanding Officer wanted to talk to him. The Brigadier recalls the conversation with someone identifying himself as Lieutenant Colonel Mustafa, commanding officer of a battalion once commanded by Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw (the Indian Chief of Army Staff during 1971 War). Our Brigadier vividly remembers the words of Colonel Mustafa

Your boys have fought very well. My boys have been killed, and you know this is a case of ‘izzat’ of the battalion. My request is that I be handed over the bodies, as I would like to bury them myself. This is for ‘izzat’ of the paltan.

20 years after Kargil War: Pakistani Commanding Officer urged Indian Brigadier for bodies – ‘for paltan’s izzat’ by Man Aman Singh Chhina | The Indian Express

The sanctity of the words between a ‘Pathan and a Sardar’ was kept. Indians made it a formal event and recorded it on videotape. In a botched war effort where the Govt of Pakistan and the Army Commanders had disowned their soldiers fighting on the treacherous Himalayan slopes, this request to videotape the handing over of bodies did not deter CO 19 FF an inch from claiming his battalion’s shaheeds. A video on YouTube shows a Pakistani major with a collection party meeting an Indian officer receiving three bodies draped in Pakistani flag with full military honours, both Indian and Pakistani soldiers offering a joint salute and signing a certificate of handing over of the bodies. Sometimes I wish we had an Army Commander like Colonel Mustafa.

One of the three bodies handed over at the base of Zulu Spur that cold morning of July 29 might have been that of Captain Abdul Malik. The 19FF braveheart from Hyderabad who earned Tamgha e Basalat for his valour. Here our friend Cuirassier with twitter handle @leftofthepincer adds that the three bodies recovered included Lance Havaldar Mubarak Shah, Naik Munir, and Lance Naik Habib-ur-Rehman. Captain Abdul Malik’s body wasn’t among them. 19 Frontier Force were defending the post codenamed “M-6” and they fought well.

Captain Abdul Malik,TBt – 19 Frontier Force

A Grandfather’s Request

Captain Taimur

To wind up this story of ours dear reader, we shall head back to Shyok sector. From the villages of Siari – Frano, my readers would remember where we bid farewell to our Major Tiwana, the ridgeline rising towards north east meets the glaciated ice of Chulung La, one of the southern glaciers of Siachen. Here in a race to reach the top called point 5770 Pakistan outdid India with its soldiers of 3 NLI Battalion under Captain Taimur Malik establishing Bilal Post. Oblivious to the fact Indians in their bid to secure the height gathered a diverse team skilled in High Altitude Warfare led by Major Navdeep Singh Cheema of 27 Rajput. The team under complete secrecy and artillery silence resorted to scaling the top from the most difficult almost vertical approach completely hidden from view. They did achieve surprise for when they reached the top the soldiers of Bilal Post were caught unaware and all perished to the daring assault by Indians. The post re-crowned Navdeep Top now lies with India.

There’s more to our story. General Ved Parakash Malik the then Indian Army Chief recalls that when the dust from the battle of Kargil started to settle down he received a request through Defence Attaché’s office in London. The grandfather of our young Captain Taimur Malik who had fought in the 1948 war on Kashmir had requested to return the body of his grandson for reburial in Pakistan.

Lieutenant General Konsam Himalay Singh who back then commanded 27 Rajputs that was phenomenal in capturing point 5770 (now Navdeep Top) recalls that it was after a month of the Kargil conflict that he was asked to exhume the body of Captain Taimur Malik of 3 NLI. The officer insisted that he will have the bodies exhumed only if Pakistani Govt. agrees to own all four (the captain and three soldiers) of their bodies. It was honoured and the bodies of point 5770 martyrs were handed over with full military honour. Our young Captain Taimur Malik having been buried in the foreign land for a while now rests in eternal peace in his native village in Pakistani Administered Kashmir.

Captain Taimur Malik, TBt – 38 Azad Kashmir | 3 Northern Light Infantry

Kargil conflict shrouded in denial and mystery from one side and televised and much celebrated by the other made an objective analysis and assessment a challenging affair. In the initial phase when the defenders were well trenched-in and secure on the formidable heights gave the attackers a bloody nose. As the Indians counted the body bags the diplomatic front accelerated their pace and the military commanders started to look for innovations. After that it was no going back for India and a fight for survival for Pakistanis with their depleted supply lines. To make the matters worst in branding them Mujahideen they were the disowned fighters whose injured, albeit very few would be treated in Indian military hospitals as Prisoners of War and whose war dead would be denied the dignity due to a martyr.

After the War | Post Commander with Northern Light Infantry | A Bofor Shell’s throw away from Tololing

After my first posting as a Second Lieutenant I was to return to Himalayas a few years later as a young Captain. While serving on a forward post, I was with Northern Light Infantry troops who were the veterans of Kargil conflict. They had stories to tell and I was an eager audience. There in the Himalayan stretch, just a bofor shell’s throw away from Tololing when the breeze swayed, it crossed that imaginary dotted line imprinted on military maps and reached the fighters now buried in a foreign land. The heights of Batra Top, Tiger Hill, India Gate, Three Pimples, Tololing and further towards Batalik those of Kalubhar, Munthu Dhalo, and all the way to Navdeep Top on the shoulder of Chulung La stand tall like sacred cathedrals. They saw the best of fighting and their formidable slopes now hold our best of the fighters in their eternal sleep.

… and you see them lowering me into the dirt
then, father, ask for forgiveness from me.


Postscript

This post was written as a young officer’s memoir whose tenure of posting in Himalayas as a Second Lieutenant preceded Kargil conflict by the count of a few months and later as a young Captain succeeded it by a couple of years. It was written primarily to pay tribute to those known to me and to extend it to few other bravehearts who fought gallantly from both the sides. There were many and a lot more stories need to be told, for which I will try to make an effort in future. It also acknowledged the soldierly and professional conduct from the adversary in honouring our war dead, returning the bodies where requested and recommending an officer for his bravery through a hand written citation.

This article received a huge response both in terms of visits and comments which I had never expected. The words left here by war veterans, senior armed forces officers and members of civil society are dearly received and greatly treasured. The comments panel has words from big names whose writings on military history and battle actions I have idolized and cherished. Thank you Sirs for you made my day! In the coming days I will try to reply to a few comments as best as I could, but I want to thank you all from the core of my heart for your time and words. I have tried to be objective and impartial while approving the comments, but for the select few if they don’t find their words here perhaps the content and context were either irrelevant or too much for my lenient being to approve for which I apologize.

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author bio

Imran Saeed

I am a teller of old tales. History, folklore, military, and more. Mostly covering Pakistan, my homeland, but also the Great White North, where I am currently settled.
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UR Raj

Having served there in two tenures, I am well aware of the peculiarities of the 1999 War. Isn’t it unfortunate for the attacking forces that their dead bodies were not accepted by the same people who led them to their deaths?
How many times Pakistan would cause such adventures and leave piles of their dead for the Indians to bury ?
Hats off to the Indian soldiers who gave true respect to their erstwhile enemies.

Nauman

Yes sad and unfortunate. Throughout those months Pak gen Mush never owned his own.
High command mistake yes. But the Lts,caps,majs who died up there deserved to be owned by 3/4 stars.
To this a few civies still own the lads as our finest who made us proud. May their families, friends find solace that unknowns still remember their dear ones.

Anil Kumar

Kargil was a clear example of misadventure by Pakistan Army and Indian Army in retrospect did have shortcomings not visualised well in time by the top echelons early with the result paid a heavy price to win each piece of stone and bunker of Kargil.
The Pakistani further disgraced themselves by not honouring their martyrs to own their dead soldiers .

Himanshu Verma

I’m not a soldier, much less an officer, and so I’m not qualified to judge one.
I just want to know how You as an officer view, what was done to Lt. Saurabh Kalia and His men.

(We all know, there were no Mujahedeen or Jehadis from Your side, but only uniformed Officers and Men.)

Ramesh Kothare

It is a blot on every officer and soldier of Pakistan and on their parents. To do what they did to the mortal remains of a human being, particularly when he is a soldier on duty. The ‘heroes’ spoken of in this narrative, all lose their respect and will be remembered as savages.

A Shahid

The conflict of kargil is a scar on the face of Pakistani military, how they planned a totally unworkable plan with no back up and supply lines secured, and disowned the brave sons of soil! It was a misadventure of enormous scale executes by a gang of few generals, with zero accountability

Col Fasih Ahmed, IA

Very graciously acknowledged.

Anil Sarin, Ex Major, 4 Rajput

Soldierly objectivity, straight talk – that’s what I admire about the Armed forces. I moved out of the Army many many years ago, but the pride I feel always remains fresh in my heart. ‘Izzat aur Iqbal’ is our credo, and there’s no higher way of living than that. I salute you for your even handed reportage, and pray for peace between our nations.

VP Singh

I don’t agree. It was a very much workable plan. It was almost impossible to capture these heights initially,we lost lot of brrave hearts without any success. It is the shear will power of Indian Army and innovation that lead to success. No other Army in the world can capture such heights.

Col Fasih Ahmed, IA

The chest always swells in pride listening to a soldier in combat. Although we both belong to opposing forces the fauji pride exists in equal measure. A true representation of regular armies from across the world. Pakistani boys were pushed into a military miadventure by unscrupulous leadership. The boys braved the onslaught unleashed by the Indian army particularly the relentless beating by the Indian artillery. We lost some wonderful men and so did Pakistan. Both sacrificed themselves to preserve the honour of their respective armies! Jai Hind

Darshan Dhillon

Salute and agree. Soldiers fight for their nations and must be honoured by countries to which they belong to

Neeraj Madan

An account, straight from the heart of a soldier. No jingoism, simple , straight facts .
A heartfelt salute’ to you Major .

Wg cdr vk

Excellent account of the kargil war
Specially when it comes from the other side and hope more such stories come out

Capt. Vijay

I true that… The soldier’s spirit of the now retd major is truly intact. Well fought brave soldiers of Pakistan, but it was for a wrong cause and for bad higher leadership, all the way… May the souls of the brave ever rest in peace.. Jai Hind

Raja

As a retired service person I can say one thing…..we share the same DNA but ultimately it’s only that the wars won by India is because truth and justice prevails in the end.

Col SC Narula

Kargil was a clear example of misadventure by Pakistan Army and Indian Army in retrospect did have shortcomings not visualised well in time by the top echelons early with the result paid a heavy price to win each piece of stone and bunker of Kargil.
The Pakistani further disgraced themselves by not honouring their martyrs to own their dead soldiers .

Dharamjit Singh Nagil

Hats off to you for an unbiased account. Indian Army always respected the brave soldiers of the adversaries. This has been the strength of our culture. We have same genes yet how the brave heart Lt Saurabh Kalia was treated by your army was totally un soldierly behaviour. What is your take on this?

Pravesh

Very nostalgic and well articulated, what the moot point is as touched by the major is soldiers on both sides are from same culture up bringing and family values hence what makes a soldier face death is none other than Izzat of his Battalion, and then the country. He fights bravely against all odds for esprit de core and for his brothers in arms.

Lt Gen T S Shergill PVSM

Extremely touching and true; one land, one culture, one ethnicity, one language divided by religion. Only the dead unify us.

O P Manchanda

Summed up beautifully Mau Mau
Brig O P Manchanda ( If you recall those difficult days in PW Camp ).

Shona George

Very well put Sir

Viking

Well said, Sir! I share the same view, as a philosopher. Head bowed to the felled soldiers of Kargil – in khaki or in OGs and, kudos to the author ….

Wingedream

सर आंखों पर ।

Wg Cdr DPRao retd

Sometimes i wonder at the futility of such wars…esply. so ..between us two adversaries…for what gains…This narration clearly identifies that the ethos, feelings, family loyalties etc of the two sides are exactly the same …we are one peoples…divided by religion …Hindu Mussalman…..I daresay Both Our Gods are UP THERE….sittibg accross 9n their lawn with a glass of beer…laughing at us….saaley sab …’ C s ‘ hain …fight for f’ all !!

Col Srivastav, IA

We all were very young Captains and Majors during the conflict. The adrenaline levels and rage was at its peak against each other. But now in the hindsight when much of water has flown in Indus we can say that both sides were doing what soldiers do best “fight for their honour.” One side lost because it’s own army and government disowned their soldiers and martyrs. The other side won because it’s government and the entire nation was with them. I am glad that you put across this article in a very unbiased and truthful manner.

Rajiv Dua

I was an Army Aviation Pilot based out of Kargil during the entire conflict. What hurt me most was the way our POW’s were tortured by the Pakistani Army. This is not Done.

Shahid

The heart is like as in the war,but also sad. How can we leave someone behind? Salute to lions like Colonel Mustafa💕

Nicco Bahri

As a Veteran of three major wars and many other conflicts,I find the same feelings of honour,izzat and espirit the Corps on both sides.Similar emotions move the soldiers of India and Pakistan.Seeing the faces of the young wasted lives brings tears to my eyes.

SK Jaswal

A fantastic recount of such an unfortunate incident.
Hat’s off to you for keeping it so simple & maintaining an unbiased approach, keeping the honour/ traditions of the Armies across the world live.
A great read, infact a treat to go through your findings.
God bless
Col Jaswal
Indian Army

Vivek

How many times Pakistan has tried 1947-48, 1965, 1971 & 1999. They have never learnt a lesson. Officers stay in comfort and push the men to be slaughtered. It is a shame on the leadership they do not accept their dead. They will be deprived of beautiful women in Jannat! What a tragedy.

Brig SK Sharma

An account which only a soldier can narrate- in a calm tone, balanced and factual.
Could form a core of a book with more research and a wider coverage.

Shashi Varma

👍👍
Having served in that area during 1971/72 and later 93/95, old memories revived
Salute to all who took part in this operation as also fallen Soldiers who never came back home,🌹🌹
Parve M s conduct Un Soldier like despite being Pak COAS,

Major Manish IA

It’s been singular honour of my life to serve during Kargil conflict the heart swelled with pride with every eviction of enemy from those heights my CO got injured but still he stood his ground and never let enemy gain an inch.
A word about opponent I acknowledge they were worthy fighters but the cause for which they fought was not worth and it defeated them.
Salute to the martyrs of both side .
Jai Hind

Col MS Chahal

A very well written account on the Kargil war that saw many brave sons of the soil laid to rest. Major you are a wonderful soldier yourself and true son of your motherland.
The character displayed by Brig MPS Bajwa is a true depiction of great military leader that is a lesson for the generations.
Highly appreciate your true feelings as a upright soldier and gentleman.

Col B. K. Basu(Retd)

Very absorbing reading. Straight from the heart of a combat soldier.
The saga of two Armies, both fighting and makin the suprime sacrifice for their nations. But with one difference, the fallen of one (India) is given thir due honour and that of the other (Pakistan) is even denied recognition. Shame on Pak military top brass.

Anil

Straight from the heart with facts and only facts .

Singh

I was a young Lt fresh out if IMA and joined my unit in Batalik in July 98 …it was calm and getting warm as mountains were heating.Had no inkling if the heat we were to face in coming days.The enthral of being next to Mighty Shangruti feature all along watching the Marol Shangruti Road and Indus moving beyond Gurgurdo into PoK still makes me deeply nostalgic of those times and places.
Incidentally got wounded in the shadows of Shangruti during the War ,got airlifted, operated ,saved and surgered to be back as the war was finishing.
Years later while commanding in Northern Areas visited Batalik with my wife and kids and took them to show the places of worship for me ,the land where Me and my colleagues shed blood for our motherland and our enemy for his .
A very mixed feeling of forlorn emotions and something gone by overwhelmed me as it was just yesterday. Everything was so fresh ,so clear every name every place every nala every post every village every trail.
We lost my beloved Coy Cdr and 12 men and my buddy whuch still rankles me as he was behind me when it happened but every image is so clear so sharp every word every dialogue every action so nuanced in my memories.
War came and War went by leaving trails of shaheeds and tales of our heroes sung and unsung. This article brought back sombre memories of course mates lost and stark remembrances of their valour and supreme sacrifice .Every Victory extracts its cost. JAI HIND.

JWO (Retd.) SK Singh IAF

Reading through the delicate narrative of probably (as author himself unsure of some events) true account of Kargil Conflict, what seeps out is, out right love of men (Lower rank Officers and Jawan) in uniform. For Indians their mother land & Army and For Pak men their Paltan and their Army. Top echelons of both sides were below par on all count. If 3/4* Generals and Army Chief of Pak failed as Soldiers in living and upholding the ethos of Soldiers, then top Indian Army leaders initially failed to acknowledge and take action and later failed in taking moral responsibility.

Out and out the heroes were who were in battle ground and those beyond battle ground were liability and disgrace.

Sanju

And the leaders of pakistan who plotted this war on india are still free! Even mussaraf lived a hero life! This show how anti india pak leadership is. They have blood on their hand of young soldiers and tears of families who are counting years remembering the killed soldiers. Sad!

Abhi

Soldiering is profession best understood by a soldier only. And when I use the word soldier I am not including the mercenaries and paid professional killers hired solely for causing death and destruction. There is a certain dignity, pride, ethos and self esteem attached with the word soldier. A soldier fights for naam namak aur Nishan (नाम नमक और निशान نام نمک اور نشان) and while doing so still follows certain unwritten fundamentals of soldiering. The enemy soldier is an enemy only as long as he is alive . Once he is dead he is just a soldier who has laid down his life for his country and must get every respect that is due to a soldier . I am so proud of the Indian Army that despite having faught a gruelling battle in the most adverse conditions and in the process taking casualties in each rank still did not forget the core qualities of soldiering and gave the respect to the dead Pakistani soldiers that was due.
What however is totally baffling and sad is the refusal of Pak army to accept this dead back and give them the burial that they rightfully deserved. How could you disown your own soldiers who died fighting for their country on your orders. A matter of deep shame for any Army.

Sheela Jaywant

This blog was shared by an Indian Air Force veterans’ group. Professionally written. Touched. Thank you for writing this. Old men in Parliaments make wars, young men die fighting in them. Sad. Warm regards to the writer.

Shiv dugal

It was a off time,I am not a soldier or officer. I was in London and staying with a friend,the other person staying with his family was a Pakistani customs officer. Both of us did not know about Kargil. We chatted,we partied and became the best of friends ,then suddenly kargil intervened ,there was quiet that day but we just felt sad for all the young men on both sides who would not know life . We both prayed for the dead. We parted a few days later ,never to meet again but with mutual sadness for two people who have so much in common at the people to people level.

As a part of the proceedings from the Indian side, and having seen most of the now revered places mentioned in the article up close(though of course from the Indian side), I can very closely relate to this straight-from-the-heart article of a soldier.

For what was well known, but never spoken except in hushed tones, this article is a plain, simple, and honest account of the truth. No judgements, no prejudices, just straight facts of events as they actually happened.

Of how soldiers respect each other despite the high level ideological differences.

Hats off to our fellow army men, and to those of Pakistan, who laid down their lives due to a huge misadventure of their senior masters, with little regard for their own safety.

R D Sarma

A soldier once fallen is equal. Why do we fight ? For some strategic advatageous points, actually not required. Look at the universe its huge, its beyond our knowledge. Lets save this world. Lets give a better world for our kids. Did Allah or Jesus or Buddha or Vishnu ever said kill in my name, never ever. Jehad is not a war its a business soon we all understand its better for us. What do life on earth wants demolition or creation? Even if demolition is required your Allha, your Jesus, your Budhha, my Vishnu will do in there own way. We dont require to take that responsibility. Apart from tears no one achieves anything from war
Take the case of Afgan, is anyone ready and wishes to settle down with his/her daughter in taliban occupied Afgan. So if mot then no support.

Brigadier Rajeev Varma (Retd)

Fascinating, to say the least. Shameful on the part of Mush and other senior officer’s of Pak to not acknowledge their brave men who laid down their lives. A well written piece.

Lt Col Arindam Chaudhuri, Veteran

It is not easy to write something like this acknowledging the facts. In the melly of political jingoism there were soldiers who fought for their cause and went down fighting for pride. It is very intriguing that once a battle is over, soldiers acknowledge the valour of the enemy and you sir have the heart and courage to bring it out.

Jai hind

Col Sudhir Sakhuja (Retd), IA

From an ex infantryman: Salute the author for an honest, soldier-like narrative.

Naveen Bakhshi

Very detailed account which when seen from the other side gives you the insight about the Kargil War as seen from other side.

Capt Vijay Srinivas

I have served in this section in 1990-92, did lot of foot patrols and couple of long range also. Always thought mountain warfare. I commanded a Company right opposite Frano with three en posts in sight. That is the exact spot where River Shyok entered Baltistan ( POK).Having read this article my old memories came back with a flash. My long range patrol took me to places in Batalik, Chorbatla areas then to Yaldor river outlet. Enjoyed every bit. Only regret is I could not be part of Op Vijay, such opportunities do not come often. It is a matter of pride to take part in such Ops especially in the areas one has served.

Col Sen MP

It was a great articulation of facts and accepting the truth with all the humility. As we (IA) gave the respect to the fallen soldiers of Pak which was due, unfortunately the Pak Army didn’t treat our soldiers with dignity. Case of Lt Saurabh Kalia is known to the whole world.

Brig AK Dutta, VSM

A very well written and touching account of a war that never should have been. But aren’t most wars like that. Salute to the bravehearts who fought on both sides.

Jawed Husain

Dear Officer
Regards to you for straight forward details. I m sure you are a great soldier urself. The difference between two armies is ethos of our culture where you respect the dead who fought for their motherland. The treatment of lt Saurabh Kaliya after capture put a blot on your army senior brass and a good soldier must criticise it. In a war one side looses but there is no shame as long as you fight honourably. I pray for fallen braves from both sides.
Lt col Jawed Husain.

Nikhil

Awesome memories. Well penned down. Straight from a soldier’s heart. May our future generations learn some lessons.

Capt. VK Rohilla

I sincerely appreciate you to have brought this war account on paper. I happened to read this article after such a long time, yet, I could feel a soldiers true emotions and their leaders supporting and disowning their own men.
Sometimes I feel very strongly,” What if both the Armies unite, both the Nation’s unite again? I am quite confident that there wouldn’t be any force in this world to stare at us”.
Perhaps, some big powers and spineless leaders don’t want India and Pakistan to reunite.

Bhagwaan kare ke ek aisa din bhee aaye jab dono bhai fir se ek saath khushi- khushi rahein.

raja

The imperial forces divided one nation in two and our wars and conflicts makes them laugh their way to banks with thriving arms industry exports to make both nations divert much needed funds for development to arms purchases.

Milind Gee

As a civilian and seeing the mayhem created by the Paki leaders and army and ISI it shows only one thing clearly, total moral bankruptcy on the part of their spineless leadership. Such people will never get better in life as their leaders are morally, ethically bankrupt and thus their country is veering on bankruptcy. There is no reason to be one country with them ever. They will bring us down… they don’t know what is Integrity.

Anil Suryawanshi

Unfortunately we missed the entire action & so called war on our own ground . I wonder why PM Wajapayee did not allow crossing of LOC . One aur commodore saw both mush & nawaz standing together through his air craft but did not kill them due to restrains imposed by PM . HH Dalai Lama did not consent participation of our unit thus we missed the action.

Col Mani K Gahatraj (Retd)

A clear overview of unbiased masterpiece account of Kargil War showcasing the true human sides of boots on ground from both Indian & Pakistani Armies written from the pen of an honest, upright and brave universal sodier. The young officer writer proves that a true soldier’s creed across the canvas of conflict lives on….except for exceptions of cruel abberations that spans the
entire world of soldering. The account of the battles fought, the officer’s mess life, waiting for transport to forward area, the simplicity of a soldier’s life, respect dedicated to soldiers killed in action by the enemy soldiers are touchingly heart warming. However, there is no escape for the soldiers in a complicated world of Politicians and Generals who, sitting in parliaments and war rooms, take decisions that affects the lives of thesoldiers, their wives and children. The article is painted with honesty and clarity of the rarified atmosphere of Kargil heights. Jai Hind.

Col Sanjay Mallick Retd

I just hope you and your family are not harmed by your establishment for coming out with the true facts. The spirit & soul of Lt Saurabh Kalia will forever haunt your establishment.

Colonel Sudeep Singh Sidhu

Dear Author,
FORWARDED your naration on Lt General Konsam Himalay Singh to him. Great General. So we’re your martyrs.

Col NN Bhatia (Retd)

The write up is true confession of a young professional soldier from the other side of the hill with out any jingoism. As India & Pakistan being staunch enemies, there were fierce battles & heroism, both sides fighting for their NAAM, NAMAK & NISHAN. On hind sight, what a collosal loss of young lives on both sides in a war that Pakistan forced on India. Also, what a remarkable conduct of operations around Tiger Hill under Bde Cdr of Brig Bajwa’s calibre who appreciated the bravery of enemy young Captain killed in action putting a citation in the deceased’s pocket & Pakistan Govt awarded him with country’s highest award. But what they did to brave heart Capt Saurabh Kalia & not accepting some of their dead soldiers bodies, leaves a black spot on Pakistani Army. Last but not the least, Pak top military leadership conscience must answer what they earned in forcing Kargil War on India causing
more animosity & deaths of so many young officers, JCOs & soldiers on both sides that even God & Allah may not pardon them!

This is Ex Maj Manish. Bhatnagar, complex commander of Point 5770 Indian Side in the glacier in Jan Feb 1999. Your write up is a masterpiece from a ground soldier. Brilliance of simplicity and straightforwardness in narration about heartfelt truth any true soldier would instantly connect with.
As an adversary, Pakistani incursion of Point 5770 was reported by me in sitreps in Jan, Feb 99 soon after when one of the officers you narrate had occupied the Bilal post. Things are in public domain already.
As a soldier a sour point with me is the way your guys, Naik Gule/Bhule Khandan etc treated Captain Saurabh Kalia and his 5 men torturing them over 3 weeks before murdering them in cold blood. Pakistan could still do well to bring these people to book, besides releasing the Indian PsOW still languishing in your jails. Please communicate if there are any from your side here. I know there are none. Still a sincere effort would be made for any humanitarian cause at my end. I am a practicing lawyer now, having authored the book Kashmir & Kargil on this wasteful war. Do view my song for PsOW on facebook page kashmirkargil.com. it has a universal appeal to all armies not to ill-treat any POW and observe one day every year dedicated to the cause of PsOW for accomplishing their welfare and treatment according to Geneva convention. Support the demand for POW day internationally as well as in your nation.

Lt Col Surinder Mohan. Vetran

I served in Kargil/Batalik sector in 1977/78. The narrative put forward is a wonderful account of the events during Op Vijay. Hats off to authors unbiased soldierly approach. Well done and thank you !

Vijaya Raghavan

A ‘Himalayan Blunder’ by Pakistan’s GHQ. A misadventure that ruined all peace initiatives taken by Mian Saheb and Atalji. Gen Musharraf and his cabal of impressionable trigger happy Generals proved their lack of ‘Head and Heart’. Unconscionable from start to finish. India lost hundreds of its valiant sons on these rocky freezing slopes. Families grieve for their loss, every day. But at least they have the moral consolation to lean on, in that the Indians fought to protect and retreive their land. The Pakistani soldiers fought an entirely needless and reckless operation from the outset resulting in an appalling aftermath. Yet, the Indian Soldiers respected the fallen Pakistanis, which their GHQ did not. And chooses not to. Even to this day.

Vinay Kakkar

A very good article.I liked the fact that you gave due to all men who fought valiantly for their countries.I also liked the fact that you did not write a one sided story magnifying acts of your own side and belittling those of the opposite side.You also took pains to put pictures of Indian Army Officers in your article.You are a good man and a true soldier.Respect to you for that.

Amit Sehgal

My enemy I will Kill you without pity, fear or remorse, but when you are dead you will not be alone. I will be by your side and honor as my own, for you are my image as we both have no personal enmity but a solemn duty to fight for the Naam, Namak and Nishan.