NEW DELHI:Among the 22 soldiers who were honoured on Republic Day for their roles in the surgical strikes against Pakistan, the top award of the Kirti Chakra, the second-highest peacetime decoration, was conferred upon a Major, who killed four people (terrorists and possibly their Pakistani Army handlers, according to sources) in close combat.
The army sources today said that the Major was “the mission leader” of a team assigned to destroy terrorist staging areas across the Line of Control in Kashmir, and that he blueprinted the top-secret operation after a detailed reconnaissance and analysis of data available on the shortlisted targets in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir.
“Major (name withheld) along with his buddy closed in and neutralized two sentries in the open,” the army said. The Major, who was the commander of a strike team leading the operations from the front, went on to eliminate two other enemies as well.
The surgical strikes were conducted by India on September 29 in retaliation for the deadly attack, weeks earlier, on the Uri army base in Kashmir, where 19 military personnel were killed.
The Major’s Kirti Chakra was earned by “warrior ethos, uncanny intelligence gathering skills, devotion beyond the call of duty,” said the army.
Details of the surgical strikes have so far been kept totally classified. How many soldiers took part has not been publicly shared. A combination of ground forces and para commandos were involved. Army sources said that the soldiers trekked starting at midnight upto two kilometres into Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir. They returned before dawn, after killing dozens of terrorists who were planning strikes in major Indian metros.
Now, army sources, offering some information, said that after the troops “infiltrated” the areas they were to target, meeting or rendezvous points were established where they were to regroup after the operation was completed. “Diversionary tactics” or faking activity in an area to mislead opponents were likely used, they said. After a “commando base” was established, the soldiers broke into pre-assigned groups. One isolated and blocked potential escape points for targets, while also cutting off any routes that could have been used for reinforcements for the terrorists. The other group established a “fire base” from where rocket-propelled grenades, assault rifles and mortars and missiles could be used. Typically, this sort of group destroys the target after the assault party or first group has gone in, provides backup for the first group, extricates soldiers who need help or may be cornered, and can turn into an alternate assault group, if that becomes necessary.
The Major was leading an assault party that silently took out enemy sentries and then launched the full-blown assault on the terrorist target. These soldiers took out terrorists and Pakistani Army regular handlers. A total of 10 people were killed by the Major’s team, said sources. After that, he directed the fire base to destroy the terrorist launch pad. Members of his team then met at the “rendezvous points” and returned home.