Indian army goes through many mind-blowing moments in daily life and some of them never reported in the media because it is just a normal day at work for the army. Avinav Prakash shares an encounter his uncle had while serving in the armed forces. It is thrilling and one of the achievements of the Indian army.
My uncle is in the army and it was him who had narrated this incident to me.
It was in 1999, few months after the Kargil War had ended. Back then, he was in one of the Gorkha Regiments. Most soldiers were returning home, a much-deserved break from the just concluded War. My uncle was still in base. He was to return home the next day. He received a call, which reported him of a suspected terrorist hideout in a nearby.
In those days, J&K was a terrorist haven. Owing to lack of LOC fencing and a porous border, infiltration was common. Even though the War was won, a bigger challenge lay ahead for the Indian Army: Flushing out the terrorists from Indian territories.
Upon receiving the call, he assembled his soldiers, who were not much in number (most had headed home). The operation area was in dense jungles off a cliff in Ganderbal district. My uncle and his team of 11-12 soldiers set out with arms and ammo. It was a 2 day climb to the suspected hideout. The jungle was so dense that the gap between 2 adjacent conifers was barely 2-3 ft.
They were barely hours away from the point when a soldier noticed something unusual on the ground. It was a chocolate wrapper. It is very unlikely for someone to come so high to have chocolates! Unless, of course, you are a infiltrator. (My uncle said it is very usual to find such wrappers. Terrorists bring with them lot of dry fruits and chocolates to survive for months together and carry out insurgency operations)
The wrapper was a lead. It was certain now the there is something fishy in that area. They continued climb with utmost alertness. And finally, within hours, they reached the spot.
There was nothing around. Calm and tranquil. The soldiers screened thoroughly but to no avail. They took it to be a damp squib and planned to return. It was a futile operation. Suddenly, my uncle noticed a tree sliced from the stem. It is so normal otherwise but not normal when you are in Ganderbal. Reason being: it is very very very unlikely for a villager to scale a cliff, walk through a dense forest and hack a tree. It had to be someone with vicious intentions.
My uncle ordered the soldiers to uproot the stem/trunk. To his surprise, the stem had no attached roots. He was sure now that something lay underneath. With bare hands, they got down to digging it up. They kept digging it. My uncle knew that there had to be something.
The soldiers were tired by now. The are digging up to 6ft when they hit something. Plastic! At once, all were on feet and dragged out the plastic cover. What lay underneath was shocking! Huge deposits of arms and ammunition. AK-47s, 56s, machine guns, rocket launchers, grenades, SMGs and many other sophisticated weaponry, all with “Made in China” embedded on them. The catch was so huge that additional personnel had to be called in to carry it back to base.
They did not come across a single insurgent. Not a bullet was fired. It is said that the infiltrators had prior information of such raid all thanks to ‘some’ local villagers. They hid their weapons and left the trunk as a ‘mark’ and mingled with the crowd. Little did they know, by the time they came back when the situation eased, all their stuff would be gone!
This ‘big fish’ is considered one of the biggest catches in history of Indian Army. This news had no national or international reporting. Neither the army ever highlighted this story. Probably because, it is just another day in the life of an army man.
My uncle says: When you are in a jungle, you gotta think like animal!
Salute to the army who always save us!