Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Battle of Sajik Tampak - Part II - Happenings on Ground

On ground, two hours of warning time is more than enough. The teams were ready in less than one hour. Every one had taken their packed meals and sufficient water to last for three days. And if more water was required, it could be fetched from the nearby nullah. The main problem would be food. But the thing would be over well within three days, so no one bothered.

 The CO had divided the teams into four groups. Two of them to be led by Capt Naresh and Capt Pramod were to act as stops. The main Raid party was to be led by Maj Saurabh along with the ghataks and the third, the search and reserve party was to be led by Capt Sreejith. Every thing had been briefed by the team commanders as to what the teams were supposed to do. The final co-ordinates of the recommended positions of various teams were given by me in a coded form.

The teams were ready to move after the briefing by the team commanders, but they did not move late until midnight. Our Battalion HQ was in Sajik Tampak village and as a rule of the game, no party was allowed to move in daylight other than Area Domination Patrol (ADP) party. So, these parties moved to the company posted in groups of twos and threes from battalion HQ. Some villagers, we had come to know, were informers of the militants. They used to look out for the movements of our men and used to pass the information to the militants on small radio sets. In fact, we had a small EW Dte (Early Warning Detachment) provided by the Division Signal Regiment, who had confirmed to us that our movements were being noted but could not exactly point out were the signals were coming from. So, we had resorted to other tactics to deceive the villagers. We never moved out of the village in groups. First we used to move to the company posts in groups of twos and threes, concentrate there and after last light (in darkness) we used to launch the operations.

The movement of various teams started at midnight. The parties were supposed to be in their position by first light (day break). Till that time, my team was supposed to watch over the village for any movements. After daybreak, we would be converted to second reserves. The raid party was to watch over the movements for 3-4 hours after the first light and was to close in to the village slowly and enter at around 1000hrs.

I asked Ranvir to grab a little sleep as the next day was going to be a long one. But as this was his first operation, he volunteered to stay awake and keep a watch over the village. Earlier, it used to be a major problem to keep a watch in the night time. The visibility reduces to 5-10 meters.  But now a days, the technology had improved a lot. We had various Night Vision Devices (NVDs) and Thermal Imagers. They are very effective. They can trace any movement at large distances in pitch black nights. We had put one such Hand Held Thermal Imager (HHTI) on sentry post. Ranvir had already taken position and was watching over the village. I was on the radio set listening to the conversation going amongst various teams.

‘Two for one seven, over’ two was Sreejith and one seven was Saurabh.

‘Ok, pass, over’ Saurabh replied.

‘We are moving towards CP1’  CP1 was Check Point 1.

‘Roger, we are about to reach Zulu’ Zulu was Saurabh’s Check Point.


Rest of the teams also gave their reports

‘one for one seven, reached Yankee’ one was Naresh, who had reached his Check Point.

‘four alfa for one seven, about to reach’ four alfa was Pramod.


We used to change the call signs for every operation, as the militants used to keep track of our call signs.


Having gathered all the reports, Saurabh reported to the CO.

‘One seven for one five, progressing as planned, over’

‘Roger, take care, out’ replied the CO.


I was also listening to the communication and concluded that the parties would be in position by the given time. I was a bit relaxed after quite a long time. I turned around and slept on my back. Ranvir was concentrating on the village. I looked at the open sky. The sky looked pretty much the same every time. Innumerable stars blinking all the time. The sky was still as always. And the night is same for everyone. Even for the sentry of the militants who would be watching out for us somewhere outside the village.

And what I had learned was that the night is same for everyone, it is what we do today, that decides what lies in store for us the next day.

Looking at blank sky, the mind tends to wander. I remembered one night when I was on leave; I was with my friend, Shilpa, biking around the Queen’s necklace (Marine Drive). As Shilpa comes late from her job, we usually go out late in the night. We decided to sit on the sea face for some time.

We were enjoying the clear skies and the still ness of the seas. Though her hairs were not long, I loved her hair. I started playing with her hair. 

‘What?’ she said

‘What what?’ I said still playing with her hair.

‘Stop it, don’t get into this again, I’ve to reach office early tomorrow’ but I could say she also enjoyed my playing with her hair.

‘I see that you are quite busy these days’ I replied trying to keep up with the conversation.

‘I’ve got to go back to Pune this Saturday’ 

Shilpa was actually from Pune, but had shifted to Mumbai for her job. She had rented an apartment in Mumbai along with her friends. She lived here for most of the time, while her parents lived in Pune. She visited her parents often, because Pune is not very far from Mumbai. This was one of the main reasons that she could afford to come around with me at night; otherwise she was from a conservative family wearing kurtas most of the time. I had met her last year, through a friend. She was not very beautiful or good looking, but our thoughts met and we were together since. I liked to spend time with her. She had something in her that made her different from the rest of the crowd.

 ‘My parents insist that I see a boy this time, and get married’ she continued

‘Then go’ I said, anger in my voice was distinct.

She probably expected it, ‘hey, don’t get angry, I am just pulling your leg, I m not going there, and you know that’

There was a long silence after that. There have been times when we are together for long periods without uttering even a single word.

She rested her head on my shoulder.

‘You know, there’s so much pressure at work, all the time, we are running against the time to complete our projects. Not to mention the pressure from parents to get married and settle down. I am literally fighting everyday. But somewhere, I feel happy that you are with me, and that feeling keeps me going through the roughs of life…..’

Yes, I thought, one right person in life keeps you going no matter how much the pressure.

And I was here, again in the open skies. Soft blades of grass, I was playing with, gave me reassurance. I smiled thinking about the different facets of night. The night was going to be long...


Barkha Chavan said...

Super.. :) I loved dis one more...

Milind Kulkarni said...

Good one! But am not one for romance. ACTION man! :) Military action!