Sunday, January 09, 2005

Combing the Capital - I

23 February

“Charlie for Khalid, Charlie for Khalid.”

Not the ideal words, voice and tone to be waking up to, but apni apni kismet hai.

“Khalid for Charlie, go ahead.” I mumble, only half awake as I stick a paw out of my warm sleeping bag to grab the little Kenwood.

“Charlie for Khalid, my company base came under attack last night.”

Whattttttt ???

F*** !!! This is crazy !! Charlie’s company is located in an area where these kinds of things do not happen. What’s going on?

I’m more than fully awake now and I quickly get the details from Charlie. Just after midnight, his camp got fired upon from a hillock that overlooks it from the north. No casualties, barring a jeep that suffered some GSW (gun shot wounds) on its bonnet and two store tents that suddenly found themselves reconfigured with a few neat, circular ventilating vents.

Charlie’s lads fired back with LMGs and RLs and a QRT (Quick Reaction Team) was sent off to out flank the attackers, but by the time they got there, nary a soul was around. They found some fired cases, all AK and spotted some foot prints. But nothing that could lead them anywhere or to anyone. A plain and simple ‘fire and f*** off’ op or for those who take umbrage to my less than placid language, a ‘shoot and scoot’ op.

Charlie goes on to inform me that he’ll be working on his neighbourhood to seek out information on this and requests me to also put in my 8 annas bit towards this end.

“Wilco, out” is my response as I sign off, mulling over this event.

Like I said, these kind of things don’t happen in this area. And then, an attack with just AKs? The hillocks too far away for rifle fire to be effective. If the militants had used PIKAs or rockets, I’d understand. And if this was anyways going to be an ineffective attack, then why launch it? Nothing to gain and there’s always the risk of the baddies bumping into a patrol at night.

Anyways, its too early in the morning to tax my limited grey matter and I yell out for Man Friday to charge my batteries with some tea.

Later in the morning, I’m out with Karan headed for Charlie’s location. He isn’t there when we reach but I get to hear the story from some of his jawans. Nothing new.

I then venture across to the hillock, Karan and I pretending to be Messrs Holmes and Watson, sans the homburg and pipe, but come up with nothing.

I head back to Charlie’s location and find that he’s back. He tells me he’s asked around but has got no news at all. The poor guy is all low and blue because getting a camp attacked by militants is a big insult. Sadly, I can do nothing to lift his spirits so after advising him to stay on the alert for a few days to avoid a repeat, I head back to my hidey hole.

The next few days I ask around, but zilch is all I get.

01 March

“Charlie for Khalid.”

Sigh !! Another wake up call from Charlie. Now what?

“Charlie for Khalid, another attack last night.”

Jeez !!!

Similar attack, from the same location. Same reaction from Charlie’s angels. Same result.

Except…..no jeep and no tents got hit. And…..Charlie’s guys have found blood on the hillock, from where the militants fired. The trail leads to a point but then dies. No further leads.

Now this is really getting crazy. Has some militant or group of militants lost their head? What ARE they trying to achieve?

I start my snooping around with renewed interest and vigour. Some crispies are handed out. Some locals are pulled in and questioned….some politely and some not so politely. Ikhwans, cops, BSF, other Army units….everyone’s asked….but with no luck.

Leaping Lollipops !!! I’m beginning to believe the ghost of Bomber Khan is at it….trying to extract some kind of revenge.

04 March

I’m informed that I’m right, or nearly so.

My good and trusted source Gulzar turns up with the news that this whole thing has been engineered by the remnants of Bomber’s gang along with a new lot of HM jerks who’ve just inducted into this area. They’re being led by an Al Badr (another militant tanzeem) Pakistani and want to ‘make their bones’ ASAP.

But what will they achieve by this stand off kind of thingy is my doubt and it gets answered when Gulzar tells me that the plan was for two guys to fire from the hillock, while the rest of the militants laid an ambush for the troops that were sent on an outflank move. The first time they studied the reaction and the second time, they laid the ambush along the route the platoon would take. Sadly for the militants, and happily for our boys, the QRT didn’t follow the same route.

Gulzar goes on to tell me that of the two militants that were on the hillock, ones got splinter injuries from a Karl Gustav rocket. The guy’s knee has been badly jacked and he’s undergoing treatment in Srinagar. The others have melted into the environment.

All this Gulzar has got from another Kilo who knows another Kilo who knows another Kilo who knows the Kilo that took the wounded HM chap to Srinagar. And if I want to know more, I need to get to THAT Kilo. Whew !!!

Financial negotiations get underway and after Gulzar has considerably lightened the little leather pouch I store my crispies in, as well as a few 100 grams of tea leaves that I got from a friend located in the cushy environs of a tea garden in Assam, he leaves. I’m left behind with the name and village of the Kilo that took the militant to Srinagar.

Time to get to work on this gentleman.

TO BE CONTINUED ........

7 Comments:

At 12:37 AM, January 10, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fantastic.... keep it up Khalid... Mayaa

 
At 9:44 PM, March 13, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

great style....

Al_Ex

 
At 2:22 AM, March 19, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah.. go for it Khalid :)

x_x

 
At 11:09 AM, April 08, 2005, Anonymous bits said...

Am hooked mate!

 
At 1:27 AM, April 14, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

am def addicted to this blog.. hope u are doing something to get it published so that common folks can get a feel of army life...how tough it gets out on the streets...

Short*Skirt

 
At 12:21 AM, April 18, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes. i do second SS's opinion. you should publish your memoir. Very captivating :)

Veeshaka

 
At 10:00 PM, April 18, 2005, Blogger Counter Insurgent said...

Mayaa, thank u, ur compliments are a tonic, as always :+)

Alex, X_X, Bitsy...thank u all. it's very encouraging to elicit such a response

SS, Veeshaka ...thank u. but i really am not too sure if this would make a good book. maybe i need to go deeper and make it more broad spectrum..to produce a meaningful book.

 

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