ParatroopersMEGHDOOT FORCE 1965

This article was written in Jan 2003 and published in The Tribune, Chandigarh.

It is relevant to draw attention to the exploits of Maj Megh Singh and brave hearts in his team, while commemorating 50th Anniversary of 1965 War. This is one of very few instances of our troops operating behind enemy lines.

Harbhajan Singh
Lt Gen

Meghdoot: India’s pride
Harbhajan Singh

There are reports in newspapers that Indian Para Commandos were tasked to strike across the Line of Control in J&K in Jan 2002 and destroy terrorist bases. However, the plans were shelved due to conciliatory statements made by Gen Musharraf, as a result of US Pressure/mobilisation of Indian Forces along Pak Border.Some how such daring operations have not been undertaken by Indian military leadership in wars against Pakistan except during Bangladesh operations and in 1965 War by an intrepid officer Maj Megh Singh. This is the story of Meghdoot Force led by bravest of the brave Maj Megh Singh, which carried out a number of very daring and successful attacks and raids across the Cease Fire Line in Punch and Akhnoor Sectors during 1965 War.

Maj Megh Singh was serving in Headquarters Western Command, Simla in 1965 as a staff officer. He had come under a cloud as Second in Command of 3 Guards and was denied promotion. Due to this, he had put in his papers to leave the Army. Not withstanding this, on outbreak of hostilities in J&K as a result of massive armed infiltration into J&K by Pakistan in beginning Aug 1965, Maj Megh Singh sought an interview with Lt-Gen Harbaksh Singh, the then GOC-in-C. He volunteered to raise and head a small force to attack targets and carry out raids behind Pak defences in J&K as a tit for tat for their infiltration. He explained that he had taken part in similar actions during the Second World War in Burma behind Japanese lines and thus had requisite experience.Lt -Gen Harbaksh Singh appreciated and accepted the offer of Maj Megh Singh and promised to pin the rank of Lt Col on his shoulders, once he had successfully carried out operations suggested by him.

Maj Megh Singh reported to GOC XV Corps and was asked to select volunteers from infantry battalions. He was soon able to assemble a group of young, hardy and dashing daredevils and set about giving them intensive training. Within a couple of weeks he declared his group called Meghdoot Force ready for any operational task.The Indian Army set in motion a bold operation for the capture of Haji Pir Bulge in the last week of Aug to seal the important infiltration route into Kashmir Valley. 68 Inf Bde Group from Uri-Baramula side launched the main attack. Punch Brigade was tasked to attack from the South as a pincer movement and thus open direct route between Uri and Punch. Meghdoot Force played an important role in this operation by attacking targets behind enemy lines and diverting his attention.Some of the important tasks undertaken by Meghdoot Force are described here.

A small but important bridge on Road Dwarandi-Bandigopalpur, seven miles behind the Cease Fire Line was blown up on Night ½ Sep 1965. Two formidable Pak Picquets called Neza and Ari Dhok were captured as complementary action to main attack by the Punch Brigade on Pak main Picquets Raja and Chand Tekri, capture of which was necessary to link up with 68 Inf Bde attacking from the North ( Haji Pir Pass side). Meghdoot Force also attacked the Ammunition Dump at Kahuta, eight miles behind Pak Lines but found the Dump empty. Undaunted Maj Megh Singh switched his Force and successfully attacked the enemy troops guarding the vital Kahuta Bridge, which helped in the Punch Haji Pir link up.

Maj Megh Singh was rightly given the honour of affecting the link up between troops advancing from Haji Pir and Punch. He was also awarded Vir Chakra and Lt Gen Harbaksh Singh as per his promise, on 16 Sep slipped on the badges of Lt Col on the shoulders of Megh Singh.With the successful completion of Punch-Haji Pir link up, attention of Meghdoot Force shifted to Chhamb Sector, where Pak had attacked in strength on 1st Sep and made considerable gains. The Force carried out a number of harassing raids spreading chaos and confusion amongst enemy ranks. On 19 Sep elements of Meghdoot Force quietly slipped through forward lines and attacked Thil 4 Km in depth in Kalidhar Sector, inflicting severe casualties.

Three days later, at 0200 Meghdoot Force struck again at enemy logistics base at Nathal. Pak troops were completely surprised and suffered heavy casualties and the Dump was completely destroyed. On the way back, Megh’s daredevils attacked Enemy Post at Thuggi. Hand to hand fight took place and Pak troops were severely mauled. Lt Col Megh Singh was, however, wounded in this encounter.Meghdoot Force proved that Indian Army was and is capable of successfully operating and attacking targets well behind enemy forward defences. All that is required is bold leadership, training, planning and execution.

The bold spirit of Indian Army has, however, been curbed and blunted over the years by chair borne politicians and bureaucrats in Delhi. Senior military leadership also cannot be absolved of blame for caving in to civilian dictates on operational matters and not undertaking such operations. They have played too safe in ordering offensive actions across the Line of Control and looking over the shoulder to their superiors for a nod. This attitude no doubt has emboldened Pak Army and ISI resulting in repeated terrorist attacks on Army camps in J&K and deep inside our country. It is absolutely essential to pay them back in the same coin and in the language they

The writer, a retired Lieutenant-General, was the Signal Officer-in-Chief of the Indian Army.


Source: WHN Media Network

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