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This is an extract from India’s Bravehearts: Untold Stories from the Indian Army by Lieutenant General Satish Dua (Retired) which will be out soon in 2020. 

Lieutenant General Satish Dua (Retired), PVSM, UYSM, SM, VSM, retired as the Chief of Integrated Defence Staff. As the Corps Commander in Srinagar, he planned and executed the surgical strikes in Kashmir in 2016. A counter-terrorism specialist from 8 JAK LI (Siachen), he has operated extensively in J&K and the Northeast during his four decades of service. He has also been a Commando Instructor and India’s Defence Attaché in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

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Life on the LoC 

Today the LoC is a violent place, but it wasn’t always like this. In the early 1980s, when my unit was deployed in Kupwara in north Kashmir, life on the LoC was fairly peaceful. There was no infiltration and almost no firing across it. In fact, we would even occasionally interact with soldiers on the opposite side, especially when locals approached us because their cattle had strayed across. 

The Pakistani soldiers would call out to us asking for sugar, as they used to get gur in their tea rations. Once when I was Captain, we yelled out an Eid Mubarak greeting to a Pakistan Army Junior Commissioned Officer ( JCO) on the opposite post. He asked us, ‘Sahab, agar main aapko sewaiyan doon toh aap khayenge? Haan, main aapke saamne usmein se do chammach kha loonga (If I give you sweetened wheat noodles [the traditional sweet dish prepared on Eid], will you eat it? I will eat a bit out of that bowl in front of you [implying that it was not laced with poison or anything harmful].’ Major Yashpal Singh, who was the Post Commander, warmly replied that we would eat it happily without his having to prove that it was safe. 

Military to military, we are brothers-at-arms, and not surprisingly, we find it easy to talk to each other. In 1999, my battalion was also deployed on the LoC, albeit not in Kargil but in another part of the LoC in J&K. By then there was a lot of activity on the LoC – frequent fi ring as well as infiltration attempts by terrorists, heightened by the tensions of the Kargil war. In those days, I used to spend my days in different company locations on the forward posts of the LoC. One day I went to visit one of the forward platoons, from where the enemy post was just fifty metres away. The LoC ran between these two posts. I spent some time at the post, reviewing the defence preparedness and chatting with the boys over the ubiquitous chai and pakoras. I was pleased to see that the soldiers on the post were enthusiastic about their work, and their morale and motivation levels were high. I then went into the Post Commander’s bunker to change out of my uniform into a set of civvies, as did my QRT soldiers.

LOC

On the forward slopes, that is, any slope that descends towards the enemy, where one was exposed to enemy view and fire, we normally did not move in uniform. Instead, we dressed in a Pathan suit which is worn by the locals and which was convenient to walk, although not to run in. If you threw on a bukkal (shawl) like the locals did, the soldiers could hide their weapons as well. The LoC in this part runs along a big nala. The slope on our side was a forward slope which went down to the nala. The slope that rose from the other side of the nala was in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK). The mountainside was covered with terraced fields, as is the case with cultivable land in the mountains. There were very few trees which could provide cover from the enemy. By wearing local attire it was easy to mingle with the villagers who were working in the fields on the forward slopes. The Pakistan Army would not fire at the locals, lest they run the risk of losing their support during the infiltration of terrorists.Th e LoC in this part runs along a big nala. The slope on our side was a forward slope which went down to the nala. The slope that rose from the other side of the nala was in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK). The mountainside was covered with terraced fields, as is the case with cultivable land in the mountains. There were very few trees which could provide cover from the enemy. By wearing local attire it was easy to mingle with the villagers who were working in the fields on the forward slopes. The Pakistan Army would not fire at the locals, lest they run the risk of losing their support during the infiltration of terrorists.

 

 

2 Comments

  1. Raj / November 10, 2020 at 11:12 am /Reply

    Was reading it with such a nostalgia of LoC, till it ended so abruptly. Why?

  2. Duleep Samuel / November 10, 2020 at 11:41 am /Reply

    please inform me when this book becomes available,it is so nice, thanks

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