I wonder how many people even know that this battle took place. Are we doing a disservice to the nation by NOT telling these battles to our children and youngsters and our people ?
I will never forget Op Rajeev. It happened on my Birthday when my CO was toasting me in the Officers mess and we heard that the Pakis attacked.
The battle as told here in the article below is pretty accurate and it surprised me as to the details. Being privy to some of the intercepts and the situation reports that came through it appears to have been told by an officer who was involved in the battle….and he does say that in the writeup. What I did hear later was that there were some GR soldiers who had to be taken / coaxed at gunpoint by a junior officer to join the battle. Such was the toll it takes on the minds of the soldiers fighting at this altitude. It is too easy to think and feel the futility & the sheer waste in human lives on both sides.
But all said and done…this is our Motherland and not an inch will be given…
Hence the saying in Siachen ” Quartered in snow…Silent we Remain…When the bugle calls..we will Stand up and fight again ”
Here goes …
SIACHEN GLACIER – 23 SEPTEMBER 1987
23rd September 1987 is an important day in the history of Siachen when Pakistan’s No. 1 & No. 3 Commando Battalions of the Special Service Group (SSG), along with No 2 Northern Light Infantry (NLI) Battalion of the FCNA, attacked an Indian post, on the Northern shoulder of the Bilafond La pass. The post at an altitude of 19,000 feet, at the time of attack was occupied by only eight men. It was this section that successfully defeated an enemy brigade sized force, creating history of sorts in the annals of military warfare. The attack carried out from 23-25 September 1987, with temperatures dipping to a low of minus 30 degrees Celsius was repeatedly repulsed. The operation codenamed ‘OP QIADAT’ by the Pakistan Army and ‘OP VAJRASHAKTI’ by the Indian Army was a sequel to an earlier operation nicknamed ‘OP RAJIV’, launched three months earlier, when Pakistan lost their ‘Quaid Post’ located at the Southern shoulder of Bilafond La, at a height of 22,000 feet, to the troops of 8 Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry (JAK LI) and the post was renamed ‘Bana Post’.
As per Pakistani reports and signal intercepts, the enemy suffered close to 300 soldiers dead. While Naib Subedar Bana Singh was awarded. the Param Vir Chakra (PVC) for ‘OP RAJIV’, Capt Iqbal of the Pakistan Army was awarded Hilal-i Jur’at (HJ), posthumously for ‘OP QIADAT’ There was wide media coverage of these operations in September and October 1987 but with the passage of time the sacrifices made have since been forgotten…
It was precisely at 5.55 a.m. on 23rd September, when the brave, young and courageous men of Pakistan’s elite SSG, launched their attack on the Indian posts of Ashok and U-Cut, referred to as Rana and Akbar Posts by the Pakistanis. They were appropriately welcomed by Nb Sub Lekh Raj along with seven other men. The numbers swelled, but brave Lekh Raj kept assuring that nothing would happen to the post as long as he was alive. It was not more than 15 minutes after he spoke to me over the radio set when a TOW missile fired from the enemy fire base established at ‘Rahber-II’ hit the bunker and killed the JCO instantaneously along with two other men. The situation became rather precarious with only five men left on the post but these brave men fought gallantly and the enemy wisely retraced their steps toward their Rahber and Tabish Posts in the rear. Capt Nazareth, the young Pakistani officer, who led the initial assault on the Indian post, was subsequently joined by Captains Rashid, Cheema, Akbar, Imran, Mohammad Iqbal seconded from the Army Service Corps to the Commando force and Naib Subedar Sher Bahadur. Captain Sartaj Wali, the Regimental Medical Officer (RMO) was moved forward to attend to the casualties.
As expected, the Pakistanis resumed their misadventure after darkness on 23rd. Their Company Commander Maj Rana was in touch with his battalion commander over the radio set. It was pitch dark, yet the enemy movement was noticed and accurate fire was brought down on them from the only mortar deployed just behind Ashok post and the aerial bursts of rocket launchers fired from Sonam were extremely effective. The attack developed a crescendo by 3.00 a.m. and suddenly there was a pause and I intercepted a message from Captain Rashid to some senior officer in the rear “We are waiting for two hours and the ropes have not fetched up yet, we will be day lighted. Cheema is dead and many are injured badly, please send reinforcements.” Their morale was low and we knew that they would not pursue the attack any further till at least the following night. On the Indian side Maj Chatterjee along with a mixed command of JAK LI and GR troops moved about the whole night motivating his men under heavy and accurate artillery fire The white sheet of ice was blackened with shelling and our pub tents and parachutes, on the ice surface were shredded with shrapnel and the mini camp at Sonam and Bana Top, where I was located, had craters all around. The sight, though scary, was spectacular with the pot holes making a distinct design on the whiteness around our abode.
The enemy resumed his attack on the night of 24th September, i.e. his third night of exposure. This time Captains Rashid and Iqbal led the assault and came very close to the top. The reinforcements promised by the Company and Battalion Commanders had not arrived and they had suffered very heavily and were tired and exhausted. It was close to midnight that I heard Rashid tell his superior officer, “Wherever I move the enemy fires at me” and prompt came the reply “The kafirs have got hold of our radio frequencies and are monitoring them, all troops switch to alternate frequencies.” There was a pause and then Rashid resumes his conversation, “Sir, we are not carrying our alternate frequencies and all are teams have left the base.” After a while there was another conversation intercepted “Rashid has been killed and the reinforcements have not reached, tell these seniors to come forward and see for them selves. They are safe in their bunkers and care little for us.” That was a good indicator, and we knew that the battle had been won.
Such was the story of the battle of Bilafond La, a battle of nerves and guts with no real winners but only losers. When will this fight end? The answer remains, till we shed our egos and ambitions.
Well fought red —Blue the winner.”
Note from Cosmicwarrior:
A few more interesting things about that battle:
a) the posts ran out of ammunition. The brave soldiers were actually throwing down emptied “dalda” (vegetable oil) cans filled with rock and ice on the enemy climbing the ropes.
b) Replenishment ammo came via a Mi-26 transport helicopter that landed in Base camp. This was a first for a helicopter of this size and weight to land there. Such was the power of this beast that most of the tents in a 300m vicinity were blown down. It couldn’t turn around within the Base, but had to fly to the widest part of the glacier to turn around and head back. Kudos to the pilots who even thought of flying this beast to 12,000 ft ASL. It’s ceiling is 15,000 but it cant carry anything leave alone ammo.
c) Some of the soldiers were evacuated at night by AirOP pilots flying daring missions with floodlights attached to the front of the helicopters. So many of them survived to tell the tale.