During the 1971 war, fierce action of 120 Indian para commandos of getting into the Pakistan territory in the Poonch area of Jammu and Kashmir made them procure a huge appreciation even form the enemies in a post-war flag meeting as “excellent work by the boys”.
A special-forces unit of the Army’s Parachute Regiment, 9 para made their way 15-20 km inside Pakistan. The unit not only destroyed its artillery guns but also put an end to about 60 Pakistani troops and rest were court martialed as a result for fleeing their posts.
After this incident of first raid behind the enemy lines, Pakistan army had to make changes to its military doctrine increasing one more line of defence for its artillery.
Colonel K D Pathak (retd), then captain and second-in-command (2IC) of the raiding company, while giving details of the war said, “During the night of December 13, 1971, my unit was assigned the task of destroying Pakistani artillery guns deployed near Mandhol village, 19 km southwest of Poonch. These six 122-milimetre Chinese guns of the Pakistani battery were creating trouble for our 93 and 120 infantry brigades. The 9 Para unit was then posted at Nangi Tekri (naked hill), 4,665 feet above the sea level, in the Poonch sector.”
The veteran, now 77, further informed about the company of six officers and 120 men led by Major C M Malhotra and “that cold night” started at 5:30 pm. He said, “We had to cross neck-deep water of the Poonch River to reach Mandhol, which we found to be deserted. After locating the guns, the party split into six groups, one to take down each target. In a fierce battle with the enemy, we blew up all its guns with 3-to-5 kg timer explosives powered by pencil cells and put inside the barrels. Many Pakistani soldiers were killed. Several fled. We lost only two men, while 20 were wounded”.
The raid concluded next morning at 6:30am. Colonel Pathak, co-founder of the Indian Special Forces retired in 1992 said, their return with 20 wounded soldiers and the body while also keeping safety was critical. However, the local Pakistani line of Defence was smashed by the sudden raid.
“It was precise, calculated, and successful operation inside the enemy territory,” he said. “After the war, even the military delegation from Pakistan praised the professionalism of the Indian troops who had carried out the operation.”
Even Pakistan commended and recognised the success of 9 Para after the ceasefire about the damage done by the unit at Mandhol.