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Operation Meghdoot
 

This task of establishing Indian Army's presence over Siachen Glacier was entrusted to   one of the Kumaon Battalions, supported by a company of Ladakh Scouts and two companies of another Kumaon Battalion. Before undertaking the task, the Company Group carried out rigorous training for several weeks, which included ice craft, snow craft, survival on snow and physical fitness and mental robustness. The operation 'Meghdoot' was led by Maj (later Col ) RS Sandhu, VrC.

The next wave under Capt Sanjay Kulkarni, landed on the Glacier, and hoisted the Indian Tricolour on Bilafond La (Siachen Glacier). The foot column led by Capt (later Lt Col ) PV Yadav, SM, reached the Glacier subsequently, after an extremely strenuous four-day march over extremely inhospitable terrain. The column set up Camps I, II and III for maintenance of newly established Posts on the Glacier. Companies of Kumaon Battalion were given responsibility for the security of the line of communication of these posts. One of the companies was led by Maj (Now Lt Gen) Rajender Singh Hooda.

Col (Retd) N Kumar, PVSM, KC, AVSM, Padam Bhushan, Arjun Award, IMF Gold Medal, MAC Gregor, FRGS

The timely deployment and occupation of defences on the watershed and the Glacier, pre-empted Pakistan Army's plans. This was not acceptable to Pakistan , and it then went on to occupy the Western Ridge, from where it could observe the Indian defences clearly. In a fine morning at about 0400 hours, Pakistanis attacked the Kumaoni Post. A heavy exchange of fire took place, but Pakistani attempt was repulsed. Though the post was under heavy fire of Medium Machine Guns and mortars, the brave Kumaonis put up a valiant fight and the Pakistanis were forced to retreat. Soon, own mortar fire engaged the enemy and forced them to vacate the Ridge.

 

In 1983, orders for the move of another Battalion of the Kumaon Regiment were received, to move to a particular Sector in  Ladakh, to reinforce the operation of  other Kumaon Battalion for occupation of Siachen Glacier. In March 1984, the Battalion achieved a rare feat.

The entire unit moved on man-pack basis, on foot during winter, from its permanent location, to the base of Siachen Glacier led by Lt Col (later Brig) DK Khanna. After the capture of Zojila in November 1948, it was perhaps, the first and only time that an Infantry battalion had marched across the snow bound Zojila, during winter months. This feat of the Battalion, was an unparalleled example of endurance, discipline and mental robustness, whereby such a vast distance in the world's toughest terrain, at such an altitude and forbidding climate, was covered on foot with complete battle loads. For their commendable performance Shaurya Chakra was awarded to Nk (later Sub/Hony Capt) Ram Mehar Singh in addition to seven Sena Medals and 17 General oficer Commanding

in Chief Commendation Cards. Another Kumaon Battalion was inducted into   LNk Ramesh Singh, KC Operation 'Meghdoot' on 18 July 1984.  In addition to holding posts at heights ranging from 13,000 to 21,000 feet, the Battalion was also tasked to operate in seemingly inaccessible and virgin heights which were later named after these valiant Officers, JCOs and Jawans of the Battalion who were instrumental in establishing them. Capt Yashwant Singh was awarded a Shaurya Chakra, while Maj Dhram Pal, Sub Yashwant Singh, Nb Sub Shadi Ram Yadav, Sub Rajender Singh, and Hav (now Maj) Vidya Nand received Sena Medals. Maj GV Katneshwarkar was awarded Vishisht Seva Medal. The unit also received seven Chief of the Army Staff Commendation Cards.

Operation Pawan (Srilanka) (1987 - 1990)


Sri Lanka is a multi–ethnic, multicultural society. The three main components of population are the Sinhalese (78 percent -mainly Buddhist), the Tamils (13 percent mostly Hindus) and the Muslims (9 percent - mostly of Arab descent).

 

Sri Lanka, became an independent dominion in 1947 with Tamils dominating in most government and private jobs. After independence, the Sinhalese declared ‘Sinhalese’ as the only official language and Buddhism became the preeminent religion in the state. This, in turn, led to discrimination against Tamils, who began to resent this and the seed for secession was sown. While the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) voiced this demand politically, Tamil youth, impatient about the lack of political results, started taking to arms. In 1972, a group of 10 students (one among them was Vellupalai Prabhakaran) formed what came to be known as the Liberation Tiger for Tamil Eelam (LTTE). On 23 July 1983, the LTTE ambushed an army patrol, killing 15 of them. The ethnic violence thereafter kept increasing manifold in the country. By early 1987, the LTTE had gained considerable control of Jaffna.

 

The Sri Lankan Army launched an offensive in May 1987 to regain control of Jaffna, employing air and artillery power. The heavy casualties to local Tamilians had an adverse reaction in Tamilnadu. This compelled the Government of India to call for a cease fire between the two warring parties. The worsening situation led to the signing of India - Sri Lankan Accord on 29 July 1987. Since Sri Lankan Army was to be confined to barracks, President Jayawardhane requested India for armed assistance to help maintain law and order. Mr Rajiv Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India, acceded to this and by early morning 30 July 1987, the advance party of an Indian Infantry Division began induction into Sri Lanka as a part of Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF). Thus Operation ‘Pawan’ was launched. However, soon after arrival, the task of peacekeeping got converted into ‘Peace Making’.

 

Col GV Katneshwarkar, VSM, while commanding a Kumaon Battalion, led his Battalion into Operation 'Pawan' On the eve of Diwali, on a 24 hour notice. As soon as the first wave of three companies landed at Palali airfield (Jaffna) on, they got sucked into battle. The Battalion along with its attached elements was tasked to link-up with a Infantry Brigade located at Jaffna, along Road Kankesanturai-Jaffna. Kokuvil was a strong hold of the LTTE, undaunted by the stiff resistance of the LTTE, the Vanguard Company fought gallantly and cleared the road.  One Company finally established link-up with the Infantry Brigade at Jaffna.  The Battalion freed the famous Aman Temple at Suthumalai on night, inflicting a psychological blow to LTTE (Aman Temple had a special significance for LTTE as the premises were used by LTTE Supremo Vellupillai Prabhakaran to address his cadres). During the operation, three foundries manufacturing mortars, grenades, improvised explosive devices and mortar bombs were unearthed and a huge quantity of explosives and ammunition were recovered. LTTE was forced to exfiltrate from their strong hold at Suthumalai.

 

After successfully operating in Kokuvil area, the Battalion moved to Mallakam. During the tenure in Sri Lanka, the Battalion had killed 19 identified and 73 unidentified militants. 27 hardcore militants were apprehended and a large quantity of arms, ammunition and explosives were recovered. During the operation, the

 

In January 1988, one of the battalions was inducted into Sri Lanka. The Battalion was tasked to search and destroy the militant camps, in the sensitive areas of Kumurupiddi and Irrakandi in Trincomalee Sector.

 

A number of operations were carried out by the Battalion against the militants resulting in the capture of large quantity of arms and ammunition as also neutralising a number of hardcore LTTE militants and their supporters. Besides the military operations, civic actions programmers undertaken by the unit were highly appreciated by the local population and the civil Government authorities. During its tenure, for commendable performance in various operations, the unit earned four General Officer Commanding -in-Chief Commendation Cards and the Commanding Officer Col LL Andrews was awarded Yudh Seva Medal.

 

Another Battalion was inducted on 19 May 1989. During this period the Battalion carried out extensive operations in and around Kilividdi of Muttur Sector in Trincomalee district with success.  The Battalion inflicted heavy casualties and captured large number of LTTE insurgents, weapons and ammunition. The Battalion earned one Sena Medal, three Mentioned in Despatches and two Chief of the Army Staff Commendation Cards.  A Battalion was inducted into Sri Lanka in the Trincomalee Sector, under command Col (Now Maj Gen) Rajender Singh, SM, VSM. A number of encounters with the LTTE took place in the area of Sampur, in which LTTE suffered heavy causalities and large quantities of bombs, explosives and documents were recovered. The Battalion was subsequently moved to Jaffna Sector, where it took part in Special Operations in the built up area near Vellvutturai and Point Pedro.  Capt DR Singh and Capt (now Col) R K Mahna were awarded Sena Medals, while Hav Kishan Singh and L Nk Rajender Singh Dangi were Mentioned in Despatches. The Battalion also received two Chief of the Army Staff Commendation Cards.

 
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