MEGHDOOTS DO IT AGAIN : RAID ON KAHUTA AND ESTABLISHING URI POONCH LINK UP SEPTEMBER 1965
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 PARACHUTE COMMANDO now 9 PARACHUTE SPECIAL FORCE . Incase you have missed the initial stories in the series then visit Jagrukbharat.com . Army Archives dated 04 Jul 16 , 27 Jul 16 and 09 Aug 16 for 50 YEARS OF INDIAN SPECIAL FORCES, INDIAN ARMY SPECIAL FORCES FIRST MISSION INSIDE PAKISTAN and MISSION NEXT BY MEGHDOOTS .
Major Megh Singh had just finished his frugal lunch after coming down from ARIDHOK mission and was topping it up with some mouth watering fire roasted corn cobs or simply called ” bhutta” , when the radio set started crackling . Brig Zora Singh at the other end spoke to Megh Singh ” Megh I know you and your men must be dead tired . However you must undertake this mission immediately and at all costs. You have to hit the administrative base of the enemy at Kahuta. To help you, I am sending an informer escorted by an Officer from the Field Security Company.” The Informer reached Nejapir a few hours later at around 2000h night 07- 08 September and to the surprise of every one turned out to be one of the Prisoners who had been taken during the capture of Nejapir the previous day. His name was Satar Mohhamad, a young and tall man who lived near the Nejapir Post. He had been forcibly enrolled by Pakistanis as a Mujahid. Satar came out with lot of information about the enemy disposition in the entire area and was willing to work for his country India as a volunteer.
Mukherjee and Mohinder along with 20 Meghdoots had already been detailed for this task. The party along with Satar Mohhamad left Nejapir at about 2100h basically as a recconaisance Patrol for route recce. They came back around 0500 h next morning and informed that the route to Kahuta Enemy Base was very difficult . It was not feasible to reach there, hit the base and exfiltrate to Nejapir the same night. This was very disappointing information . Therefore Major Megh Singh decided to go for a recce himself with a small party. However first he interrogated Satar himself in minutest detail. The enemy base was around eight km West of Kahuta on road Poonch- Kahuta and cross country terrain was such that it would take around 8 hours during night and may be 4 hours during day. Emboldened by earlier capture of Aridhok during day time Megh Singh decided to take the risk and carry out recce during day time only. He selected 8 men and along wih Satar proceeded on the patrol at 1400h. Making full use of maize fields , they slowly but steadily moved ahead and at around 1730h reached a vantage point South of Kahuta from where the whole area right upto HAJIPIR in North , PRITAM Post in West and KABRAN KI DHERI IN East was clearly visible. This place was about 10 km inside the enemy held area from the pre war cease fire line .
Kahuta area was clearly visible too. A battalion HQ of enemy’s AZAD KASHMIR battalion was located there and as per Satar it was held by approximately 150 men , and ofcourse civilians could be seen fleeing towards CHiRIKOT. From the direction of HAJIPIR PASS , artillery and Machine Gun fire could be clearly heard . Fierce fighting was going on due to advancing columns of Indian Army from Uri towards Hajipir. Then suddenly pakistani military vehicles too started leaving Kahuta Garrison area and started moving westward. By dusk it looked as if Kahuta was totally vacated . After dusk ,Megh Singh and party came down to Poonch- Kahuta Road and cautiosly started moving towards Kahuta Base. They reached the base location around 2130h and a quick recce confirmed that it had been completely vacated . Vacation of this base clearly showed that Pakis now had no intention of retaking the area BULGE ( LC to Aridhok and upto Kahuta) and probably had given up on Hajipir also. While rushing back to own location, Megh Singh also found that the very important Kahuta Bridge on Road Kahuta- Poonch was totaly intact and left unguarded.
Megh Singh was back at his location around 0300h and at once passed every bit of information to the Brigade HQ . At about 1000h while he was relaxing and studying the map of Kahuta area, a call came from the Brigade Commander ” Megh, I know you must be very tired but I can see no other person who can go and Link Up with the Advancing Columns of 19 Infantry Division from Uri side. The time is running out . Can you take on the job? ” . There was no question of saying NO. It was indeed a great honour. Megh Singh at once agreed to take on the task of effecting URI-POONCH Link Up. ” Megh , you will have to leave right now , to link up with the leading elements of 68 Infantry Brigade of 19 Divisionin in area upper JARATH , North East of KAHUTA. “. Exactly after one hour at 1100h, 09 Sep65, Megh singh and his party comprising Lt Mukherjee, Lt Mohinder, Subedar Hamid Khan , Subedar Abdullah and only 45 men left Nejapir for Kahuta.
There were only 45 men with Megh Singh because within the given time frame 3 Raj Rifles could send manpower to relieve him at Nejapir only. Those Meghdoot men holding Aridhok could not be relieved. Then the Meghdoots had to depart for the mission without having eaten any lunch . Also there was no packed dinner. Further, as the Poonch Brigade itself was not in radio communication with the advancing 68 Infantry Brigade, no signal communication could be arranged between Meghdoot Force and the advancing unit of 68 Brigade. Firing of three green Varey lights was to be the recognition signal for the Link Up. How chaotic was the overall situation became obvious when Meghdoots after a two and half hours forced march reached the general area South of Kahuta . Firing was going on. After some recce Megh Singh found out that there was a Company of Indian Army being engaged by Razakars. When Meghdoots tried to move up , they came under ” friendly fire” . It took some time before firing could be stopped and Link Up effected. It turned out to be a Company of 3 DOGRA. They had been sent earlier in the day by Poonch Brigade itself to secure the Kahuta Bridge for Meghdoot Force to pass through for the Link Up. However Meghdoots had not been told regarding this . Thank God the worst….Blue on Blue …was averted .
The DOGRA Company Commander was though quite indignant . He had been briefed for the task by the Brigade Major , the previous night only , right after the information was received from Megh Singh. Based on the information that Kahuta had been vacated by Pak Army, the DOGRA Company Commander moved head long in broad day light for the bridge without securing the heights SOUTH of it . As his leading Platoon tried to cross the bridge it came under heavy fire from heights and suffered six casualties. The whole Platoon was precariously pinned down by enemy fire and could not move an inch . It was only the timely arrival of Meghdoot Force that had saved the situation. In spite of this Megh Singh was accused of giving wrong information . The Company Commander simply forgot that Megh Singh had done the recce on 08 Sep itself where as his Company had reached the location many hours later on 09 Sep .Enemy could have taken any action meanwhile , as Kahuta was his Main Line of Retreat . There was simply no military justification for the DOGRA Company to take it for granted that there was no enemy at Kahuta and go headlong .
As move over the bridge was not feasible, Megh Singh decided to cross KAHUTA Nallah from a place around 500m down side of the bridge . Mohinder’s Column was first to rush across the nullah and take pisition on the other side. Then the Second Column commenced its crossing. Suddenly the enemy opened up with several Light Machine guns and two Medium Machine Guns from the heights East of Kahuta Village. There was heavy volume of fire and the column got pinned down in the river bed itself. Fortunately the range was on the excessive sight and hence fire was neither accurate nor effective. However the column was too nervous to rush to the other bank and take suitable cover. Then Megh Singh himself rushed through the River bed with remaining party and exhorted every one to follow him to the other bank. Thankfully Meghdoots suffered no casualties .
Soon Major Megh Singh and Party had taken position on the other bank. However this position was tactically unsound. Around 400 m East of their present position was a Spur which seemed to dominate Kahuta Nallah and the area North of it right upto the Bridge. It also overlooked the route from Kahuta towards Hajipir. So it was decided to move to the Area Spur and take pisition there. As the Meghdoots were half way up the Spur, the enemy again opened up with several Machine Guns. This time fire was very effective and the entire Force got badly pinned down. Finding the situation desperate , Megh Singh ordered Lt Mukherjee to take his Sniper Naik Bijairaj Singh and try and neutralize the enemy Machine Guns. Both Mukherjee and Bijairaj, crawled through the heavy volume of fire with total disregard to their safety and finally reached a suitable Sniping Position. In less than half an hour with very effective Sniping fire , the enemy was forced to shift its Machine Guns several times. This created enough opportunity for rest of the Force to crawl up the Spur . By 1630h the Spur was secured and the maize field on it provided ample cover . Once the Spur was secured, it relieved pressure on the 3 DOGRA Platoon too which had been pinned down and they to were able to extricate to safety. As it was discovered later, Bijairaj the Sniper had killed 8 of the enemy .
The Meghdoots were dead tired and hungry since morning. This was the fourth operation that they had undertaken in four days. There was nothing to eat. The Link Up was still far from sight and the overall situation looked gloomy. As the men were resting , the sentries reported that a large column of enemy was coming down from a height nearby towrds Kahuta . The Track they seemed to be following passed through
a point hardly 200m from the Spur position. Quickly all available Light Machine guns were put in position to cover the track. The enemy column was around 40 strong and moving in utter disorder. Also they seemed to be totally unaware of the presence of the Meghdoots in the Spur Area . They all walked into the effective killing unaware. On Orders all LMGs opened up simultaneously and in matters of seconds the whole column disappeared — dead or wounded. Soon came two more columns both meeting the same fate. Finally a total of 45 dead bodies could be counted in that area of the track. After sun set a few of the huts in the near vicinity were searched for food but nothing could be found. There was nothing else but the maize corn and the men boiled the same and somehow satisfied their hunger. After this royal meal the Force went to rest . Hamid Khan and a small party was sent to liaise with the DOGRA Company. Khan came back and reported that there was no sign of the Dogras and they had probably pulled out thus leaving the bridge unguarded. Now holding this bridge was most essential for URI-POONNCH LINK UP. Hence orders were given at once by MeghSingh for further action as under: –
(a) Lt Mohinder with a Section to go and secure Area NR 169860 ( area North of bridge where some of the enemy Machine Guns had been located) by midnight.
( b) Lt Mukherjee with a Section to go and secure Area NR 173864 ( another position North of bridge occupied by enemy Machine Guns) by first light on 10 September.
( c) Hav Sanwal Khan with a Section to go and secure the area Bridge itself by first light 10 Sep.
(d) The remaining Column under Megh Singh to advance through Mukherjee’ s postion and be ready for Link Up with 68 Infantry Brigade at Point 7405 NR 187886 by 1100h on 10 Sep. Mukherjee ‘s Column to join the main Column and lead the advance for Link Up.
Every thing went as per plan and by First Light 10 Sep both the heights were captured, the enemy totally surprised just ran away in utter disorder. The bridge too was secured. At 0600h as per plan Mukherjee led the advance through a difficult snd dangerous terrain , on empty stomachs. At1000h we could see the descending troops of 19 PUNJAB coming down from Hajipir side.Three Varrey lights were fired by Meghdoot Force and replied in kind by 19 Punjab. Lt Col Sampuran Singh ,MVC,VrC , Commanding Officer of 19 PUNJAB moved up with a team and greeted and embraced Maj Megh Singh, thus effecting the URI –POONCH LINK UP at 1030h on 10September 1965.
HQ 68 Infantry Brigade at once invited Major Megh Singh and Party to their HQ. The Public Relation Officer along with the Media Men were eagerly waiting. However being hungry and too tired Megh Singh politely declined and after bidding a Good Bye to Col Sampuran Singh , at once left for Kahuta Bridge. Meanwhile Lt Mohinder with his Section holding the heights had already beaten back two determined Counter Attacks. Enemy had been repulsed with heavy losses to them. Megh Singh at once reinforced his position and occupied the height earlier held by Mukherjee with a Section too. Around 1200h on 11Sep , the missing DOGRA Company was back at the Kahuta Bridge on express Orders of the Brigade Commander and took over from Meghdoots Force.
While Meghdoots moved to Kahuta village for a well earned rest , Megh Singh was summoned to the Brigade HQ immediately. On reaching the HQ at around 2100h along with Lt Mukherjee, they were met by Brigadier Zora who had been waiting for him. He at once congratulated the Force and the two officers for the wonderful job done. Major Megh Singh was also told that next morning GOC was coming in a chopper and he should be ready to move with him for onward journey to HQ 15 CORPS at Udhampur . Next morning Megh Singh was at HQ 25 Infantry Division and on 13 Sep 65 flew with the GOC to Udhampur.
This marked the end of activities of Meghdoot Force in Poonch Sector. During the past 11 days ,the Force had gone deep into the enemy held territory five times. Had blown up an important Bridge , captured two strongly held enemy Posts without any fire support, secured Kahuta Bridge and Kahuta village after a fierce battle and finally effected the historic Uri–Poonch Link Up. Thus a handful of men , just 60 and mostly Muslims, while carrying out these missions, inflicted nearly 200 casualties on the enemy against just ONE to itself. In spite of numerous handicaps and no formalized Commando training , the achievements of this force was just tremendous .
With completion of Uri -Poonch Link Up a vast area of our Motherland was back with us . However much later it was given back to the treacherous Enemy on a platter . All the gains made by our brave and valiant Defence Forces through their blood , guts and sweat was just thrown away . Lal Bahadur Shastri had taken over the reins of the country just months before. During the actual conduct of war he listened only to his Military Chiefs and took fantastic decisions worthy of any Churchil, Stalin or Roosevelt of this world . However by the time of Tashkand Talks all those Hobgoblins, Ghouls and Vampires who lurk in the Lutyen Zone as various types of experts had elbowed in. This resulted in not only the loss of a big chunk of our country but we also lost our wonderful Prime Minister. People of India must wonder as to who advises our Political Leadership on such matters which are vital to our very existence as a country. The time has come for We the People of India to demand not only the creation of the post of Chief of Defence Staff but also to institutionalize this Post as a Permanent Non Voting Member of the Cabinet Committee on Security . We just cannot let this kind of mistake happen again.
Next in the series will be Action of Meghdoot Force in Chamb Sector .
Col Awadhesh Kumar ,Retd 9 PARA SPECIAL FORCES