When Meghdoot Force (Later 9 Para) Commandos Capture Of Nejapir And Aridhok Posts In Pakistan

0
431

These are the exploits of Meghdoot Force undertaken in September 1965 during the Indo Pak war. Meghdoots, raised and led by Major Megh Singh, the creator of Indian Special Forces, the first Commanding Officer of 9 Para Commando now 9 Parachute Special Force.

The Meghdoot force which later became Para commandos

Morale got boosted in the entire Poonch Sector, Major Megh Singh and his men were on cloud nine. The destruction of bridge on Road Dwarandi–Bandigopalpur was a great achievement as it highlighted the importance of organizing even a small operation behind the enemy lines. The payback was many times more than the investment. Meghdoots were now already the favourites of the Brigade Commander. In fact, after he had rested for the day, Major Megh reported to the Brigade HQ on 04 Sep 65 and was warmly welcomed and congratulated by the Brigade Commander. Thereafter Brig Zora Singh took him to the Operation Room and briefed him on the Brigade Plan to attack and capture Raja Post and Chand Tekri Post. 2 Sikh and 3 Dogra were to carry out this task. To facilitate this operation Meghdoots were required to divert the enemy’s attention by simultaneously attacking Nejapir POST located in depth.

Major Megh Singh immediately moved with his force comprising 03 Officers (including himself), 03 JCOs and 60 men to own post from where he would go into enemy held portion of J&K or Pak Occupied Kashmir as it should be known to the world. Considering the task and the number of Meghdoots, Brigadier Zora Singh also allotted a Platoon ex-Delta Company (all Muslims) of 3 RAJ RIFLES under 2/Lt Bedi to the Meghdoot Force.

Lt CoL Megh Singh

Megh Singh with Mukherjee, Mohinder, Bedi, Subedar Hamid Khan and Dil Jan studied the ground in front in detail from a vantage point. Nejapir was in depth but so located that it was within Medium Machine Gun range not only from Raja and Chand Tekri but also from another Paki post in depth called Aridhok. The viable approach to Nejapir was under full observation and well covered by fire from Raja Post. Therefore it was decided to use another approach at night from South East involving very steep climb. This route would take seven to eight hours at night and there would be no possibility of any kind of fire support or reinforcement from own Posts.

As per plan Meghdoot Force left Gotarian soon after last light on night o5/ 06 Sep 65 with Mukherjee’s column once again in the lead followed by Mohinder and then Bedi. In the initial stages, the route was entirely through maize fields which provided good cover but also posed a major command and control problem. The Force had hardly moved about a km plus when contact between Mukherjee’s Column and rest was broken. The main Column halted and it took more than an hour before Mukherjee retraced his path and came back. Megh Singh then asked each Section Commander to don a white kerchief as recognition sign and the lead column to keep marking the route with white bandage pieces. The moon too came up and progress was good. The enhanced speed of the column was making up for the lost time. However, the danger of getting spotted from a distance by the enemy too had increased. Soon the toughest portion ….the steep climb started.

After about seven hours of tough march and the climb the Meghdoots reached a place about 2 kms from Nejapir and halted for a break. While the Column was resting, at around 0300 h both the enemy posts Raja and Chand Tekri came to life. They opened up in front of their localities with heavy volume of MMG and mortar fire. Soon the artillery too joined in with heavy shelling. The battlefield got lighted up with blasting shells and with illuminating artillery shells. All this firework was to check the advance of 2 Sikh and 3 Dogra on to the two posts and continued till both the posts were finally captured a few hours later in the morning of 06 Sep 1965.

After a 15 minutes halt, the Force continued forward, making full use of the battle noise all around. By 0400h they reached an area Graveyard around 500 m east of Nejapir Post and remained undetected. Quickly Lt Mukherjee, Lt Mohinder and Subedar Hamid Khan each led a small reconnaissance patrols towards the objective from three different directions. Soon they were back and confirmed that the Post was held by a Platoon plus. However no signs of minefields and wire obstacles were detected. After a quick appreciation of the situation, Major Megh Singh made an attack plan. Mohinder with his column together with all available Light Machine guns pooled in was to take up position in area MOUND about 300 m on eastern side of Nejapir. From here he would be able to provide the required fire support to the attack. Mukherjee was detailed to take a section and go behind the enemy post and cut off his escape routes. Balance of the force under Megh Singh and Lt Bedi was to assault the Post from the Southern flank.

The plan was put in motion. Mukherjee reached his location undetected and got deployed. Movement of Mohinder’s party however got detected and the enemy post opened up with heavy volume of fire. Nevertheless Meghdoots managed to crawl to the position in the darkness and secured the area without suffering any casualty. While Mohinder was being fired upon, Megh Singh and party moved to the Southern Flank. Then as planned at precisely 0530h Mohinder’ party opened up on the enemy with heavy volume of fire. Simultaneously Megh and his party went for the assault. Enemy opposed the attack with everything he had but to no avail. There was hand to hand fighting for a few minutes but seemed like eternity. Then the mighty warriors of Ayub Khan who use to boast that one Paki Soldier was equal to 9 Indian Soldiers, just ran away leaving behind two dead and two prisoners. Mukherjee with his section too was able to inflict a large number of casualty on the retreating enemy. The enemy must have had around 20 to 25 wounded. By first light 06 Sep 65, Nejapir post was in our hands and fully secured.

However the battle for Raja and Chand Tekri was still raging on. After first light as things lightened up, Meghdoots on Nejapir could clearly observe the assault and hand to hand fighting going on. It was only around 0800h that the two posts could be finally captured by the Sikhs and Dogras…….a large chunk of enemy held territory was now liberated.

Meanwhile a new development had taken place. Nejapir came under intermittent firing from Aridhok post and heights nearby. Since Aridhok overlooked Nejapir and was within MMG range, it was not only a big menace but also posed a threat. Hence Megh Singh spoke to Brig Zora Singh on radio and requested permission to capture it. However Zora Singh who knew the Sector and overall situation quite well advised against it. Aridhok was situated at a steep height and held by the enemy in strength and would require minimum of a battalion of infantry with adequate artillery support to attack and capture. Thus appreciating the situation like a good infantry commander, he was against taking such a big risk. Further presently no infantry battalion could be spared for this task. Still he gave permission to Megh Singh to send a Patrol and carry out recce of area Aridhok.

Having deployed properly on Nejapir and rested for the day, Meghdoots were once again feeling itchy. Nothing succeeds like success and their minds were already thinking on unconventional lines. So in the evening of 06 September Megh Singh virtually held a conference with all the Officers, JCOs and NCOs and discussed the problem of Aridhok. They all agreed that the problem of Aridhok must be liquidated. As cover of maize crop was available, it was planned to surprise the enemy during broad daylight itself, when he would be least expecting such a foolish move.

Therefore without actually disobeying the Brigade Commander, Major Megh Singh decided on a bold plan. A small patrol of 14 men comprising Megh Singh, Mukherjee. Mohinder, Hamid Khan and Dil Jan with only nine other Meghdoots left Nejapir 0800h on 07 September for Aridhok. Taking advantage of the maize crop, they moved quickly but stealthily and reached the bottom of Aridhok Hill unseen. Then taking full precaution they started the climb and by 1200h were mere 300 m away from the actual Post. Meghdoots easily spotted the lone sentry on top of a bunker but the enemy still remained unawares.

Having identified three bunkers facing them, Megh Singh positioned the Rocket Launcher Detachment and rest of the party skirted to an assault position. Two men moved further left to act as a cutoff group. On signal, three rockets were fired, one by one, into the enemy bunkers and immediately after the assault was made with just 10 men with shout of BHARAT—–MATA—–KI—JAI in full volume. The enemy took off faster than the rockets and by the time the assault party reached the centre of the Post, not a single enemy was to be seen. They all had just bolted leaving behind two rifles, huge quantity of ammunition and equipment. Four of the most unfortunate enemy soldiers fled bang into the Cut Off party and were instantly dispatched upwards to meet their Makers. Blood stains on the Post itself showed that a few more may have been wounded by the rocket splinters.

Then without wasting any time, Megh Singh and the officers along with Subedar Hamid Khan rushed down to Nejapir, leaving behind Sub Dil Han with 09 men to hold Aridhok. On reaching Nejapir, Megh Singh at once sent Lt Bedi with his Platoon to reinforce Aridhok. Brig Zora Singh was then informed of the latest situation. The Commander was mighty pleased. Thereafter every one sat down to have some much needed lunch.

So just a company size force without any fire support was able to capture two important enemy held posts in depth with just one wounded. In comparison Raja and Chand Tekri were captured only after heavy fighting and a very large number of casualties to own side. With capture of Aridhok the route to Kahuta was wide open and Meghdoots had ensured that the elusive Uri….Poonch Link Up now looked a real possibility for the Indian Army. Thus ended MISSION NEXT for the Meghdoot Force. Readers may wait for the story of Kahuta raid.

The article is written by Colonel Awadhesh Kumar, Veteran Special. This article has been posted with the author’s permission. Views expressed are personal.