Indian Army is known for its impeccable integrity and unbelievable valor of its Soldiers. There are many Stories of utmost sacrifice committed by our soldiers during an event of War. However today we will be presenting a rarely heard story of Operation Rajiv (named after Second Lieutenant Rajiv Pandey) which was very crucial in process of recapturing Siachen, unofficially known as the Third Pole of the world.
It was 23rd September 1987, when Pakistan’s 1 & 3 Commando Battalions of the Elite 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 by Indian Army.
Pakistanis named this Operation as ‘OP QIADAT’ whereas Indian Army named their operation as ‘OP VAJRASHAKTI’ which 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’.
On the basis of the Intel inputs and signal intercepts, Pakistan suffered badly and close to 300 soldiers dead. While NaibSubedarBana Singh was awarded the ParamVir 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.
At 5.55 a.m. on 23rd September, when 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. On the Indian side Nb Sub Lekh Raj along with seven other men were ready to welcome Pakistanis. The numbers swelled, but brave Lekh Raj kept assuring that nothing would happen to the post as long as he was alive. Pakistanis fired a TOW missile which hit the bunker and killed the JCO instantaneously along with two other men.
The situation became grim as only five men left on the post but these brave men fought gallantly and forced Pakistanis to retreat to their posts. However 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. Their morale was low because they were not able to tie the ropes and several of their soldiers were killed in the process. Indians side was able to trace the wireless communication of Pakistanis, and they got to know that they have decided to not to proceed with attacks on that 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.
As expected the enemy resumed their attack on the night of 24th September, it was the third consecutive night when Pakistanis were attacking that specific area. Pakistani Captain Rashid and Iqbal were leading the assault and came very close to the top. However the reinforcements promised by their Commanders had not arrived and they had suffered very heavily and were tired and exhausted.
It was close to midnight when Indian Officers heard their wireless communication where Captain 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 “Captain Rashid has been killed and the reinforcements have not reached, tell these seniors to come forward and see for themselves. They are safe in their bunkers and care little for us.” That was a good indicator that battle has been won by Indian Army and they have delivered a massive blow to the so called Elite Commando force of Pakistan has been brutally humiliated by Indian Army.
This was an unheard story of battle of Bilafond La, a battle of nerves and guts which was won by the better side i.e., Indian Army.