Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Jahangirs Journey - VII

0605 hours.

Karan is shaking me awake. There are sounds of gunfire from the North West and the radio is crackling.

Contact established?

Good. Which would mean the information was accurate. I offer a silent prayer that we suffer no casualties. In this dirty war, because the enemy is a cowardly rat who hides all the time, generally the first casualty is always ours.

Anyways, I get myself focused and listen in on the radio.

It’s Juliet, one of the nine RR company commanders on the net. He is giving out a sitrep (situation report) to the Brig.

They cordoned village B with 30 odd men and he entered around 0530 hours along with 8 guys. They moved straight to the Muqaddam’s house which is somewhere nearly in the middle of the village. They wanted to talk to him and get the village vacated so that it could be searched.

The company commander went into the house with his buddy, a young Lance Naik (Lance Corporal) while the rest of his team stayed outside. Inside the house, as they were talking to the Muqaddam, something went askance and they were fired upon from within the house from the first floor. The young soldier’s been hit.

Current situation?

The officer has rushed out of the house, dragging his buddy with him. He and his group have deployed around the house and are firing at the first floor windows from where they are drawing fire. The casualty is with them…alive but bleeding profusely. The officer estimates at least three militants inside.

The Brig tells him to maintain contact with the militants, ensure no one slips out of the house and to wait till some reinforcements are sent in. He also tells him that he’s sending in an ambulance into the village for casevac (casualty evacuation).

Cool !! It all seems under control and I guess the officer will carry on the op to its logical end. I just hope we shed no more blood and that once the reinforcements arrive, he’ll be able to wind it all up fast. I also hope the Muqaddam and his family are not trapped inside the house. Because if they are, this guy will not be able to use RLs or flame throwers and then there’s always the ‘human shield’ option available to the bad fellas.

I pipe in and ask that of the company commander. He confirms that all the civilians rushed out along with them and have vanished into the village

Fine!! There’s nothing I can do and the Major will handle it till he finally knocks off those three guys inside.

I wonder what’s happening in the other eight villages. No transmissions on the net from them, though I suppose they’re all carrying out their respective CASOs and are keeping the net clear for the radio traffic from village B.

In village B, the firefight is continuing and I hear on the net that an ambulance is headed for casevac. I hope it gets there in time.

I scan the militant nets on the other radio.

Yesssss. They’re buzzing like bees. A lot of traffic on their frequency. They’re talking about being surrounded by the army. One guy is talking about a firefight. He must be one of the jerks in Village B.

It’s obvious from their talk that there are at least 6 or 7 of them. And they’re all not in village B.

Damn !! I hope all the CASOs are done properly and we bag the whole lot.

I also wonder where Jahangir is. Is he in one these villages? And if so, how will he get out?

Well, the fact that it’s his information, I guess he’s smart enough to have kept himself out of this situation.

“Delta, contact “, goes my radio set. I listen.

Delta is the company in Village G. Seems that their search party was entering the village when they spotted a guy trying to run towards the west. They are chasing him and their cordon is in place to stop him. Poor sod. His time has come.

So, that seemingly accounts for 4 out of 6-7. There are three in Village B in the Muqaddam’s house and won’t get out alive and this guy in Village G won’t last another 30 minutes. But then, where are the others?

Let’s see if the other seven RR companies find them.

I keep monitoring the army and militant nets, trying to piece the situation together.

“Sheep, approaching Juliet’s location”, goes the radio set. Fine! That’s the ambulance near Village B. A few more minutes and then that young lad should be on his way to a hospital. I heave a sigh of relief. He’s been without proper medical help for too long already.

“Sheep, under fire, under fire!! “. Damn!! I can hear gun shots over the radio as Sheep is frantically yelling. The darn ambulance is drawing fire. What the hell !!!

There’s something really bad happening in Village B. The Brig tells the ambulance guy to drive on and then take cover and to evacuate the casualty ASAP. Juliet is told to get some men from his cordon into the village to cover the casevac.

I’m not happy. There seem to be more bad guys inside Village B than Juliet can seemingly handle.

“Khalid, request permission to move to Juliet’s location” , I ask of the Brig.

“Roger Khalid, go ahead” , the Brig acquiesces.

Karan and I take off for Village B which is about 12 klicks away on the other side of the plateau. I don’t like the situation building up there and I move fast with Karan following a few steps behind. We jog through the orchards that abound on the plateau.

We’ve covered about 5 klicks or so, when we come across a nala. I jump in and decide to run along it, rather than climb up to the other side. The nala, as per my map, seems to flow from Village B and is nearly dry, so no problems. It’ll get us there fast and we’ll have cover.

We jog on the sides of the narrow water channel and have done another couple of klicks, when I get a jolt.

Bang in front of us, heading our way, are two guys. Militants obviously. They’ve got AKs in their hands and are in pathan suits and sneakers…the ubiquitous militant uniform.

They spot us the moment we spot them and before I can get my breath back and say Jack, Jane or Jill Robinson, they open fire on the move. Damn and double damn!! My rifles slung over my shoulder and as I try to halt, take cover on the ground and swing the weapon into action, I hear the bullets whizzing past me.

Suddenly I feel Karan on top of me. As if covering me with his body. I try to push him off so that I can fire but he’s like squashed me below him and is firing at those guys.

I can make out a militants been hit. He crumples and hits the ground, firing into the air and yelling in pain. The other guy has knelt and is firing at us.

I finally manage to push Karan off and fire at that militant, noting with satisfaction that while a kneeling man makes a smaller target, it ain’t THAT small. The jerk whines and groans and rolls over into the water.

I fire off some more rounds into both those guys just to make sure and then get onto my feet.

Only to find that Karan hasn’t got up.

He’s lying on the ground, where I’d pushed him off me. Dead.

I can’t believe my eyes. I never realized he’d been hit. It’s like I’m suddenly in some twilight zone. I feel his pulse, yell at him, shake him.

Nothing.

I’m numb. I feel like I’m dead myself.

One of the finest soldiers I ever had the privilege of serving alongside and one that was with me over years in some of the most hairy situations ever. And he’s no more.

I get my radio out and inform the Brig.

He tells me that the situation in Village B is under control. Reinforcements have reached and the op will get over soon. I should wait where I am. He’ll move some people to my location.

I’m too numb to think or say or do anything.

I sit on the ground, Karans head cradled in my lap. Talking to him, like we talked, over endless hours in the craziest of places and situations.

An officer and a jawan together in that stupid filthy nala. Yet in some manner, the best of friends…in the holiest of places.

I was his superior, by rank. And yet, in the end he proved himself my superior. As an officer, I was supposed to ensure his safety. Instead, he died safeguarding mine.

I don’t know, I don’t remember how long I sat there with Karan. But after a while, some troops landed up and things moved on.

Karan was taken away by two of them and I moved alongside to Village B.

The op there had ended and the Brig was there.

I saw the end result of that fateful day.

Four militants lined up dead. Three from inside the Muqaddam’s house and one from Village G.

They are joined by the two Karan and I knocked off in the nala.

And then, a distance away, lies Karan. And, the young jawan who’d got shot in the morning. The damn casevac had failed.

The Brig hugs me. Wipes my tears away, but they don’t stop. I can see loads of jawans and officers all around. I can feel the euphoria of victory emanating from them.

And yet I feel nothing.

The Brig tells me who all the militants are that’ve been knocked off. I don’t care. I’m not even listening, till one name hits me.

Hits me like a hard punch in the solar plexus.

The guy trying to escape out of Village G was Jahangir.

Bashir Waghey, HM. Abdul Karim, HM. Saifullah, HM. Altaf Mir, HM. Farooq Ahmed, HM

Good bye, enemies of my country ! You deserved to die.

Good bye Jahangir, or should I say Jaanbaaz. You were a militant but you found the guts to change. That requires courage beyond measure and I salute you.

Havaldar Karan Singh, The Parachute Regiment and Lace Naik Sunil Shinde, The Rashtriya Rifes.

Good bye my comrades. Heroes of a proud nation. You didn’t deserve to die.

Till today I feel the loss of Karan like I'd feel the loss of a part of me.

But in the end, I remember something my father said when I was a young boy and he would tell me about the brave comrades he lost while fighting the wars of 1962, 1965 and 1971.

Do not grieve that such a fine, fearless man died. Instead celebrate that such a man lived.”

25 Comments:

At 12:33 AM, March 17, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This hurts ...

Karan was a part of d blog n to know that he wont be featured in ur future blogs has shattered me completely...

i was better off not knowing what happened to Jahanghir...

Wish we cud do our bit to make our country a safe place to live ...

I salute d brave Soldiers...


Mayaa

 
At 3:04 AM, March 17, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

heart-rending

i cried.. .am still

i am wid Mayaa here. wish i didn't knew what happened to Jahangir

Do we need wars?

I salute to Karan and to those unknown soldiers who have given their lives for our country.

HE IS THE TRUE HERO WHO FIGHTS TO PROTECT THE HELPESS, THOUGH CUTS LIMB FROM LIMB, FLEES NOT THE FIELD.

Al_Ex

 
At 4:17 AM, March 17, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I cant say it any better than Sir
Winston Churchill.."Never has so
much been owed by so many to so
few "

WW

 
At 4:26 AM, March 17, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Every death reminds us of our own... our obsession with trivial things as money, status, consumerism have been revealed for what they are: unworthy of all attention we devote to them. There is something valuable to learn here, but this reality nonetheless makes us quite uncomfortable...

Yes.. am too asking... DO WE NEED WARS?

And those of us in this country who feel this way should make our desire known in the strongest of ways to the ppl in power...

Mebbe Karan would have been in our midst today:(



Mayaa

 
At 9:17 PM, March 17, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A soldier is a symbol of sacrifice and glory to a country. A soldier alive or dead is very invaluable. Many soldiers have been known to have laid down their life for their Motherland.... this soldier Karan has supercede all other soldiers ..He not only laid down his life for his Motherland but more importantly saved his friend and his senior officer. He lived to be a great friend and laid his life for a friend too . To him i bow my head and salute him in all sincerity. As for Jahangir ... he met his dusty death. May soldiers of Karan's stature return Kashmir to its lost glory - A paradise on earth.

Divine_Proportion

 
At 2:27 AM, March 21, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal we seek, but that it is a means by which we arrive at that goal. We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means.

--Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

 
At 3:56 AM, March 21, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

War is definitely not an answer to the terrorism but in the name of Jihad tens of thousands of innocent lives are sacrificed. The dirty rats need to be taught a lesson if they dare to cast an evil eye on our country.

Yes, loss of lives is regrettable but then no war has been won without loss of lives.

I salute to Karan and those million soldiers.

THEY GAVE THEIR TODAY FOR OUR TOMORROW

Brave in the face of death. Brave in the face of fear. Facing bullets. Let not their death go waste, unacknowledged.

x_x

 
At 11:07 AM, March 26, 2005, Anonymous zippo said...

hmm..

 
At 1:21 PM, March 26, 2005, Anonymous zippo said...

:)

 
At 7:37 AM, March 27, 2005, Anonymous zippo said...

read em all..took me close to an hour almost..right from the very first blog..hmm..we all have our own worlds that cannot be quite understood..unless someone offers a glimpse..like u have :)

no further posts? and respond to the comments ppl make here..that wud be nice..

 
At 11:26 PM, March 29, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah... wud like ur response on our comments :)

T**T

 
At 8:57 PM, April 15, 2005, Blogger theturbulenttranquility said...

Hey Sir... remember me:) Well read through all the blogs and like I told you the order of their appearance will be no issues for someone who is truly intrigued by what you have to say.
About my impressions from the blog... just what you had to say
...There's no better soldier in the world than the Indian jawan...

Keep in touch.

 
At 10:54 AM, April 16, 2005, Blogger Counter Insurgent said...

Mayaa, i understand how yu feel..yu know as much as i do how much Karan was an integral part of this part of my life and what i felt when he made the supreme sacrifice..and also what it took out of me to pen this episode. but then, losing a friend's life does not mean losing our memories of him...and therefore, instead of sadness, i think we should be proud that he touched our lives.

Alex, WW, DP, X_X,T**T, thank yu for ur salutes. death is worth attaining if its for your country and for those citizens of your country that value your sacrifice, rather than take it for granted. to quote from an ode to a fallen soldier :
"How sleeps the brave, who sinks to rest, By all his country's wishes blest! By fairy hands his knell is rung, By forms unseen his dirge is sung."

Zippo, thanks for ur visit to the blog. i am happy i was able to give yu a glimpse of my world...n perhaps make yu realise that it's as much your world as mine :+)

Anushuka, thank yu my young friend. i am honoured that a budding journalist n brilliant writer visited my blog...n also joins me in saluting India's best.. d Jawan !! i don't know how to put links on d blog, or i'd definitely have put your blog url..since d subject is common to a degree.

...Khalid

 
At 8:04 AM, April 19, 2005, Anonymous zippo said...

khalid..
is that your real name? no more blogs? :(

 
At 1:28 AM, April 20, 2005, Blogger Counter Insurgent said...

Zippo : Counter Insurgent is my voacation and my 'nom de plume'. Khalid is my 'nom de AK-47'. my real name matters neither north of the pir panjal nor in this blog :+) n more episodes will follow. patience, please?

...Khalid

 
At 6:08 AM, April 20, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Khalid saab :)

Thank u...


Mayaa

 
At 2:01 PM, April 27, 2005, Anonymous bits said...

I wasnt keen to read this blog as i knew the outcome before but since u asked me to i did so, read it all in one shot, am totally over whelmed & saved my comments for the last one.
For whom are the brave like Karan laying down their lives & like Khalid putting their lives in danger, for us unconcerned people who sleep blissfully unaware about what all goes into keeping us safe? We salute & bow to all you soldiers who took a pledge for the safety of our country & us!
Khalid, the void in your life left by the demise of Karan cant be filled ever. Only a person who has lost a close friend can feel your pain. But like u say, we should be happy that a friend touched our life & left us unconditionally cherished & with a feeling of belonging.
God bless u Khalid with many more friends like Karan.

 
At 6:10 AM, June 28, 2005, Anonymous the pacifist said...

war makes me sad

 
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At 3:13 AM, June 13, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Khalid,

I have read all the blogs you have posted here over a week. Its been a wonderful journey, looking at your world through your eyes. I can get a feel for the rich experience you have been blessed with, especially the never-a-dull-moment thing. Being in the line of sight of death I guess would make an individual thankful for small everyday things. I hope your life continues to be enriched and I hope you continue to share it this way.

You do deserve to publish a book and I hope you do it sooner than later.

Warm Regards,
PD.

 
At 8:38 AM, August 14, 2006, Anonymous pacifist said...

war really makes me sad,
its pointless and leads to personal tragedies.
I wish there were no wars

 
At 8:38 AM, August 14, 2006, Anonymous pacifist said...

war really makes me sad,
its pointless and leads to personal tragedies.
I wish there were no wars

 
At 11:52 PM, September 03, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Read all the entries and I'm quite fascinated by the style and content of your writing. It has action, adventure and compassion in it. Simply marvellous !

 

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