Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Battle of Sajik Tampak - A Sneak Peek into an Infantry Soliders Life

The sentry indicated with sign language to lookout. I looked out of my camofledged bivouc, but couldnt find anything unusual happening in the village below. The village was around two kilometers far as the crow flies. It was a typically small Manipuri village, around eight-ten huts scattered in a small area. Two people were walking across from one of the huts, which looked like a church to a small house. Probably, the sunday mass had just got over and all the villagers were going back to their homes.

Just then, Lt Ranvir asked me what we were doing up there on a mountain watching the village for more than 48 hrs now? Lt Ranvir had been sent along with me as an understudy and I was supposed to train him in the tactics used in operations. So, only we could talk in whispers as we were watching the village in prone position from close by. Rest nobody was allowed to talk as a rule of the game. Well, of course, unless it was very necessary.



I recollected the briefing I had from my Commanding Officer (CO) before inducting into the operations. The source had just visited the Commanding Officer with the piece of information that six militants will be visiting the village for collection of some ration for stocking in their camps and also for rest and recoup. Earlier also we had such info that some militants do come to villages nearby for rest and recoup. But this piece of information looked promising enough because our Area Domination Patrol (ADP) had caught a glimpse of militants moving out from the village only 15 days ago, but could not launch any operation as they vanished into the jungles in a very short time. The CO also believed that there was some movement going around that village and had earlier recommended that we keep surveillance over that village. Only this time, he wanted to go over this operation in a very deliberate manner. So, he called me to brief how he wanted to go about it.

Basically, all the deliberate ops we had planned were in a similar manner and would go on for six to seven days. First of all, he wanted to set up a surveillance team. It would go there and sit in a position from where the village is clearly visible and all the movements in the village can be seen without being very close to it or being on the way from or to the village. So, this time I was supposed to go in a survey team. Otherwise, I always operated with the raiding team which actually saw all the action. Probably, the CO wanted to give me some rest by taking me off from the active ops and putting me behind the ops for a while. I was supposed to look for a suitable location for the surveillance. It would be a surveillance for 72 hrs. All our movements would be under the cover of darkness. There was this new Lieutenant commissioned in our regiment recently and he was yet to see any action. So, the CO suggested that I take him along with me so that he gets to know what the ops were like and how to operate. Anyways, as this was not active ops, would not involve any fire fights, so he could learn without risking anyone’s life. I looked towards him and realised that he must be terrified as I was on my first ops!!

Then, again the sentry signaled me to look out. I concentrated to see and I could see thru my binoculars (binos) a few people walking out of the church and walking towards a particular house. They were not carrying any weapons but they all sported uniforms. I zoomed into them and clearly saw the militants. Then I looked at my sentry and gave him a smile (as though we already had our kills!!!). I took out my log book and made a note in it.
0905 hrs:         4 Militants walk out of the church and move into house no 3.

I looked satisfied. I handed over the binos to Ranvir and he watched over the house for the next two hours. Earlier, he was preoccupied with the thought that since last two days, he had not even brushed his teeth, let alone take a bath. He would have been stinking by now. Moreover, he had already taken out more than a dozen leeches from his body. But all this didn’t seem to bother him now. He concentrated on the houses for any movement. I was satisfied this survey would be fruitful unlike the past several times the survey team was out and returned empty handed.

The main ops would start now. After I pass this info to my Battalion HQ, all the teams would activate at two hours warning order. They would be split into several stop teams, who would cordon off the village and hunt down any militant running away. There would be a raid party which would actually enter the village and hunt for its kills. Also, there would be a search party who would search all the houses and the area near for any clues or leads. Ideally, there would also be a pursue party, who will pursue the fleeing militants, but our CO was not for that party. He knew that in Manipur, pursuing a militant is more dangerous than the actual firefight. He used to comment, “Let him run today, we’ll get him tomorrow. Anyways, he is our kill.”

Since there was no more movement for the next two hours, I concluded that there would be only four militants in the village. The time had come to pass this information to my CO. I would be soon deinducted from my location and the other parties would move in.

Just then, Ranvir turned to me and signaled to me that he had spotted something and wanted orders to fire. I put him in standby and took over the Binos from him and started looking in the direction he was looking. I could see two men walking in front of us around 500 meters away on a patch of land. One of them was a militant and the other a civilian. They would be out of sight within few seconds. I realised then, that there would be more than four militants roaming around. But this was not the time to hunt one of them. I indicated to Lt Ranvir to put his weapon down. He had a lot to learn. To catch the BIG fish, leave the smaller ones. Had I fired at this militant, I would have warned the rest of the lot that we were there. Also, we had only AK 47s with us, which has an effective accurate range of 400 meters. So, we were not sure we would hit him accurately, and if we missed him on the first fire, he would vanish into the jungles within a second. And there would be no way we could track him. More over, we could even hit the other fellow, a civilian. The commander has to take so many decisions in a split second. So many important decisions, which could be a matter of life and death for many!!!

Ranvir looked at me puzzled, not understanding the decision that I had taken. He thought why to waste even a single chance to shoot these bastards. He would learn in due course of time how to deal with these bastards. I would explain to him once we hit the base. Till that time, he’ll have to wait and watch and learn. Silently.

I picked up my radio set and called my CO “Four for One Five, over”

A reply came immediately “One Five for Four pass your message, over”

I smiled as I passed the message “I can see our friends in the village”

12 comments:

Harshita said...

lovely ...keep it rolling

Sandeep B. Mukherjee said...

Purvesh, the range of the AK-47 is fine as it can be Googled over. However, I do not know if it is right to give out the pass codes on the blog. Overall, this is really engrossing. Your writing is also good. Keep it up bro :)

Prachi said...

Interesting read.. But I'm sure experiencing this is very different from reading a blog....

Barkha Chavan said...

Loved it... :)

Vivek said...

I could actually feel myself being right besides you....its quite an eye opener..and very interesting

Purvesh Gada said...

Thanks everyone. Thanks Vivek ! :)

piyush tayade said...

Thanks for sharing your real life experiences. The way you have put things in blog, really felt the action.

Vishal Kataria said...

This is crazy Purvesh... Plus I heard that your company was the one which liberated this zone! Proud of you Captain! Jai Hind!

Milind Kulkarni said...

रोमांचक लगा पुरू! लेकिन अधूरा लगा :(
जल्द ही दूसरा भाग प्रकाशित करो...

Milind Kulkarni said...

रोमांचक लगा पुरू! लेकिन अधूरा लगा :(
जल्द ही दूसरा भाग प्रकाशित करो...

Ajay Ramakrishnan said...

Great work Soldier! Truly the pen is mightier than the sword. Keep writing. Keep inspiring.

Unknown said...

Can read this again and again!