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That Unsuccessful Operation Of The Indian Army In Sri Lanka

Indian Army
Indian Army

There is a tradition in the Indian Army that when commandos are trained there, they are taught all the tricks to survive in adverse conditions as well as eat snakes by killing them. It is believed that if a commando kills and eats a snake, then he can do anything in this world.

On the night of 11 October 1987, 10 Para Commandos based in Palali, Sri Lanka were given the responsibility of taking control of the LTTE headquarters at the University of Jaffna. Before taking off, all the commandos raised their war slogan, ‘Durge Bhavani Ki Jai’ and at 1 pm two MI helicopters took off for Jaffna with 50 soldiers.

He was flying only at a height of 200 meters. All the lights on the helicopters were turned off to keep the mission a secret. Sushant Singh, the author of ‘Mission Overseas-Daring Operation of the Indian Military’ and co-editor of the Indian Express newspaper, explains, “A military term is a pathfinder. Para commanders were given the role of pathfinder. The main role went to Sikh LI. It was given. The job of the pathfinder is to mark it by landing at that place and tell that this place is good for landing.

Fight Against Fire

“Four helicopters were to land there in a row of two. The fire came so fast that he gave up his intention to do so.”
“Because of this, when the second team of helicopters came, they could not see where they had to land. They decided to go back. There were 53 commandos on those helicopters. When they came back after some time, they were fired upon That there were huge holes in the helicopters. Later it was counted that there were 17 holes in that helicopter, but despite this, they were able to land 31 soldiers of Sikh LI there.”

As soon as the first helicopter came 10 meters above the surface, all the commandos started descending with the help of rope. But as soon as Captain Ranbir Bhadauria jumped down, his leg got stuck in the hanging rope. Bhadauria, who is currently living in Sitapur, says, “It is a tradition in airborne operations that the senior-most person jumps down first. Due to the fast-moving wings of the helicopters, the landing rope wrapped around my feet. My pack was over my back.” in which I had my commando dagger. But I could not take it out. I could see that 35 of our men had got down.”

Whereabouts Of Prabhakaran

“When the last man started to land, the only option I had was to go back to the helicopter with the rope or to go back to the base with the rope. I thought my comrades would think that the sire should jump down first, but Afraid of the fire, I went inside. I was very confused about what to do. But then the person above helped me and the rope wrapped around my feet came out and I got down.”
Major Sheonan Singh and his companions started moving into the area where Prabhakaran was supposed to be present along with his companions. On the way, he saw an isolated house. When he knocked on the door, a professor teaching at the local polytechnic opened the door.

He asked him where was Prabhakaran’s whereabouts. That professor also warned him that Prabhakaran is always surrounded by 100-150 people. His soldiers will not be able to cross him. Major Sheonan asked the professor to show him the way to get there. He took his son-in-law hostage and asked him to take him to the LTTE headquarters. A commando was put behind him and it was made clear that if a bullet was fired at him, he would shoot his son-in-law with a bullet.

Major Sheonan Singh says that he must have gone a short distance now that bullets started raining on him from three sides. The commandos pressed the trigger with a rifle taunted on the head of the Professor’s son-in-law and the son-in-law was killed there.

That Bloody Fight

Sushant tells that when Indian soldiers reached Pirampady Lane, a Tamil fighter suddenly came out of a house and moved towards them. When he was only three feet away, Sheonan fired at him and his entire uniform was drenched in his blood.

After this, an incident happened with Captain Ranveer Bhadauria which shook him. When he entered a house, a woman was standing in his kitchen with her two-year-old child. Indian commandos fired in reflex action in which the woman was killed. Bhadauria could not shoot him at the two-year-old child because he remembered his son, who was almost the same age as that child. But a soldier accompanying him put that child to sleep forever.

Colonel Ranveer Bhadauria recalls, “Once the fire is opened, the man does not see where the bullet is going. I was not in the courage to hit anyone. I came out. When I went back, That child was dead. All these things happen in the war, which is always sad. Sometimes I sit alone and think about that incident, but sometimes the weevil gets crushed along with the wheat.”

Indian Soldiers Lost

Around 10.30 am, MMG fire started coming at the Indian soldiers from the university grounds. It was the same MMG that he had left with Major Birender Singh of the Sikh LI and his 31 soldiers. Did it mean that Birender Singh and his soldiers were killed?

Sushant Singh explains, “In the end, only three soldiers survived. They decided that they could survive only if they attacked the LTTE soldiers and took back the MMG that they had captured. Two of them attacked them. Attacked with bayonets because all their bullets were exhausted.”

“The LTTE shot those soldiers and captured alive one of the surviving soldiers, Gora Singh. They didn’t kill him because they wanted to learn how to use the rocket launchers they snatched from the Indian soldiers.” Gora Singh was released in November 1988 in exchange for LTTE prisoners of war. Later for many years, he worked in 13 Sikh LI.

Meanwhile, Major Sheonan Singh realized that the 54 Artillery Brigade was present in Palali and it had artillery. But as soon as he demanded artillery fire, the ground came out from under his feet when he came to know that the artillery was there but his ammunition had not reached there from India. The Sri Lankan army provided him with some mortar guns, but the shells left by him fell on the Indian army itself.

‘If Pakistan wants war then it is right’

Speaking on the phone from Connecticut, USA, Major General Sheonan Singh said, “We had read in the books how to control the gun. We got in touch with the Sri Lankans on the radio. We asked them for fire. We sent some of our boys to climb it on the roof. I was sitting down. They told me where the ball was falling. We told them to shoot 50 yards south.”

“I didn’t know at that time that I could even say 25 yards. I said 50 yards because that’s what we used to do in our training. As a result, the ball fell on the same house where we were sitting. Coincidence From then he fell outside the house where three of our jawans had taken positions in which two people died, one was badly injured.

Meanwhile, 37 hours had passed while fighting the commandos. Three tanks were sent to bring them back, but those tanks also had some defects. Major General Cheonan Singh recalls, “One of them did not have a gunner. One did not have a loader. Three tanks had only one loader. When these tanks reached us, Tank Commander Anil Kaul inflicted damage on the enemies on the way.” They fired to deliver, which destroyed all their shells. In a tank, the shell was stuck inside the gun.”

Tank Spoiled Game

“His auto-extractor was not working. When these tanks reached us, we told them that we have had fire from this house all day. Let’s go and destroy them. It took them 45 minutes to do so Because the gunner said that I will fire with my gun. The bullet was taken out from the second tank and loaded into his tank. When he fired, the bullet also went out over that house. We said that this tank demoralized us more than the enemy is.”

“Get out of here as soon as possible, because in the morning we will be easily targeted. At the same time, a tank got stuck in hail while reversing. Its JCO said that recovery would be needed to get it out. I shouted Had to leave you here and go away.”

“The LTTE guys will come in the morning and they will give your recovery. The tank crew was not in combat mode and it was not a battle of tanks. It was clear that we had put the wrong thing in the wrong place. It was beneficial that because of the fear of tanks, they did not come very close to us.”

About 40 Indian commandos were killed in this operation. None of the targets were met and the Lungi-clad LTTE fighters harassed the Indian soldiers badly.

who didn’t fear death

When I asked Major General Sheonan Singh how you judge the combat prowess of LTTE fighters, he replied, “The first thing was that they were not afraid to die. A man who is not afraid of dying can do anything.” In any battle, only young soldiers win you and not experienced soldiers. Only experienced soldiers in battle are those who did not die in the first battle and they do not want to die in this battle too. Those who do not know what death is. It is they who win the battle.”
“He had complete faith in his leadership and had provided him with the best weapons. He could easily mingle among the people. He was sure that if he left his weapons and went among the people, no one would recognize him. Where As for Testis, he was fighting a guerilla war against the Sri Lankan army. He knew the way. He knew where to hide. His training as a soldier was top-notch.”

After this, the Indian Army remained in Sri Lanka for about three years. When she returned to India in 1990, 1155 of her soldiers had been killed. Today, a monument of black granite stands at Palali airport, in memory of the Indian soldiers who took part in this failed operation on October 12, 1987.

By Rehan Fazal
Courtesy of BBC

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