Ginger Up The Enemy..!
Ginger Up The Enemy..!9 mins 19.5K 9 mins 19.5K
On 3rd December, 1971 at 0545pm, codenamed Operation Chengiz Khan, the PAF (Pakistan Air Force) attacked a number of airfields in both the Western and Eastern Parts of India, including Amritsar, Pathankot, Srinagar, Awantipur, Jodhpur, Ambala and Agra. The same evening the Pakistani army attacked on Kashmir and Punjab launching armoured infantry operation to secure Ramgarh, Jaisalmer in Rajasthan. On the same day, at midnight Smt. Indira Gandhi in a broadcast to the nation declared that India was at war with Pakistan.
On 4th December, 1971, Lieutenant Daljit Singh of the 10 Paratroopers, known as Desert Scorpions, along with his team was advancing towards Chachro, Pakistan early morning in Thar Desert. After 5 months of intense training in Desert Warfare, this young commando battalion was entrusted with a crucial mission just 5 years after its formation. “Ginger up the Enemy..!” was the theme used by Lt. Colonel Bhawani Singh. Two groups were formed – Team Alpha & Team Charlie. Both the teams had 40 soldiers. Daljit belonged to Team Alpha. All the 4 X 4 jongas & Jeeps used by the teams were modified to hold & dismount LMG (Light Machine Gun) as well as MMG(Medium Machine Gun).
“Our aim is to attack 4 bases 80 kms deep inside Pakistan. These are: Chachro, Virawah, Nagarparker & Islamkot. Our mission is to create confusion & panic in the enemy’s army. These 4 centres are a major communication & important bases for Pakistan from ammunition & communication point of view. Destroying them will surely create more panic amongst the enemy. We will take cover during the day, advancing only at night... ” Lt. Cl Bhawani Singh had instructed his soldiers before they commenced the journey. Initially the attacks were planned by Rajputs, but being inadequate in numbers ,they were supported by the 10 Paratrooper commandos. Both the units had 20 numbers of Khoja Rajputs, who knew the attacking area well. Second Lieutenant Daljit Singh was assigned to lead the Alpha Team. Second Lieutenant Mahendrapal Singh Chaudhary was assigned to lead the Charlie Team.
“Sir…our jonga jeeps are making too loud sound..!” Naik Nihal Singh said, “The enemy may come to know about our infiltration..!”
“We have no time to stop, soldier...” Daljit Singh replied, “Besides the enemy will think that we are launching a full-fledged Tank attack on them…giving us more advantage to strike and finish them off..!”
Hiding at designated places during the day to avoid air surveillance, the team reached around 70kms inside the enemy’s territory in a village called Kita in the deserts. Keeping their headlights off, & with no information of the check posts, the entire cavalry kept moving ahead. Daljit was in the third jeep from the front. The loud engine sounds were creating echoes around in the silence of the night in the lonely deserts.
Suddenly, without warning, intense MMG fire opened up on the entire regiment. Daljit Singh, along with others, ran for cover. Nothing was visible in the darkness. All the soldiers hide behind their jeeps.
“The fire is coming from the sand dunes about 100ft ahead…!” one of the soldiers shouted amidst the fire. “The enemy feels we are in huge numbers & they are firing in all directions…!We can’t leave our cover..!”
Before Captain Daljit could respond, Naik Nihal Singh, without caring for his personal safety, took his jeep directly in front of the enemy & opened up fire from his LMG mounted on the top. Darkness acting as cover, the sound of the LMG and sudden fire caused the enemy to stop. This audacious charge by Nihal Singh gave the other soldiers to run back to their positions & at once, 18 LMGs opened up fire on the enemy positions. The Khoja Rajputs knew the area well & immediately informed Daljit Singh of the enemy’s barrack positions atop the dunes. Daljit Singh then directed all the teams to fire at that position. Within a few hours, following the intense attack by the Indian Army, still in darkness, the enemy thinking that this was a full-tank battalion attack, had no option but to escape. In this ambush, not a single Indian casualty was reported.
“Well done, team..!” Lt. Daljit Singh praised all of them after the Kita post was taken. “But we still have lot of work to do. The Patrol team, which has 7 commandoes and 3 Rajputs, as per the plan, move further towards West and clear our route till the Wing Headquarters of the Pakistan Rangers at Chachro, about 7kms from here. Our mission is to create chaos and to take vital posts into the enemy territory 80 kms deeper. Charlie team will be assisting us from the other side. As per our plan, we will be blocking all the exit points in the town. Charlie team will then launch ambush and take the Rangers down. Remember, this is a risky operation as the town has lot of civilians. Let’s move…!”
As per the tactics, the Alpha team stayed behind & the Patrol team moved ahead stealthily at night.
The Alpha team, hiding in for the day, moved ahead at night. The desert route was a difficult one, with no proper roads and no proper visibility. The silencers of the jonga/jeeps made it sound like a full body tank battalion moving in the enemy region. This was not a positive attacking strategy for the commandos, as they always attacked in stealth & silence. This however, came as an advantage as many enemies fled their positions thinking this was indeed a Tank Brigade launching towards them.
After moving in for 2 nights, on December 7 at 0200 AM, the Alpha team reached the outskirts of the Chachro town.
“Lt. MPS Chaudhary, this is Lt. Daljit Singh. You copy?” Daljit Singh radioed to the Charlie team, “We are in position & we have sealed all the exit points of the town. You re clear to infiltrate the enemy headquarters…”
Lt. MPS Chaudhary replied back with a green signal. The Alpha team took their potions. Sealing all the exit points, the team stealthily waited till the Charlie team charged. The Charlie team reached by dawn. This was a risky operation as the entire town was filled with civilians. Both the teams were instructed to be careful while attacking the bases & avoid civilian casualties.
As the Charlie team slowly advanced, suddenly the enemy opened fire on them.
“Incoming…!” The soldiers shouted as they came under heavy fire from the enemy with LMGs. Team Charlie had surveyed the town earlier & as the firing opened, all the members took cover.
“Charlie team 2, attack from behind…! Team 1, proceed to front..!” MPS Chaudhary shouted commands to his troops. The team 2, taking advantage of the darkness, progressed ahead from behind the HQ base. The LMG mounted jongas fired combatively at enemy positions. The enemy had guarded the HQ gates & were firing by taking cover, but they were heavily outnumbered. Team 2 who invaded from behind, attacked the enemy positions and took down 17 Pakistani Rangers. Heavily outnumbered, the rest tried to escape and started fleeing towards the town exits.
Here the Alpha team welcomed them. The rangers had no option but to surrender to the Indian Army. About 17 Rangers were killed & 12 of them surrendered. In spite of the quick assault and with the help of proper planning, not a single Indian casualty was reported, nor any civilian was killed. The town base was handed over to 20 Khoja Rajputs.
“Well done Lt. Chaudhary..!” Lt. Daljit Singh praised the Charlie team, “You did a good job..! But we need to continue ahead till Virawah, and take down the bases ahead. It was good working with you..!”
“My pleasure, Lieutenant…! We’ll exfiltrate now & we are taking the 12 prisoners with us. Good luck ahead!”
Team Alpha proceeded ahead to the Ranger Base at Virawah. Due to shortage of time, the team kept proceeding even during the day, taking high risk & avoiding air surveillance. In the desert heat,at about 0130 PM ,the team encountered enemy attack just at the outskirts of the town.
“Hold on troops…!” Lt. Daljit Singh commanded the battalion. The soldiers took their positions. Lt. Daljit detected some movement ahead. It was an abandoned ranger base on the entrance to the town. The whole area appeared deserted. Daljit moved ahead, followed by soldiers aiming their guns at the base Suddenly, without warning, 3 rangers jumped out and started firing at the troops. Lt. Daljit threw a grenade in their direction and counter attacked them. With a huge blast, all the 3 rangers were taken down. Immediately, a platoon of rangers opened fire at the troops, but they were again heavily outnumbered. The Indian troopers opened up fire on th enemy using LMGs. The assault did not last long. The Rangers fled their positions & Virawah was captutred by the Indian Army. Again this time, not a single Indian casualty was reported & no prisoners were taken.
The troops then proceeded towards the Nagarparker base, which was again easily captured without much difficulty.
“We need now to move to a suspected ammunition base at Islamkot. We have no time to rest. Let’s start immediately….!” Lt. Daljit ordered his team. The team never took rest. Even in broad daylight ,the team proceeded south towards Islamkot. Advancing in day & night, the team finally reached the destination on 16th December .On reaching the outskirts of the town in the desert, the team planned an ambush attack.
“Take your positions & let’s wait till Nightfall..! ”Lt. Daljit ordered his troops. Exactly at midnight,the troops launched the assault but the entire village and the base camp were empty. The Rangers had already fled the area, & the Indian army successfully captured the fourth territory in the area.
Successfully completing all the four targets, the team now started its return journey to base. Again travelling at night using selected hiding places during daytime, the team finally reached Lunio.
As the jonga jeeps were moving ahead at night time, suddenly the soldiers seated in the front seats saw dust raised in the air. Suspecting vehicle movements, the soldiers informed Lt. Daljit Singh.
“Troops take your positions…!” before Daljit could even complete, the enemy opened fire. However, only ground soldiers using LMGs, rifles and handguns launched the attack. The Indian Army using jonga mounted MMGs & hand grenades counterattacked them with full force. With no place to hide in the desert, the army took cover behind jonga jeeps. Taking advantage of darkness, the enemy again got fooled thinking the Indians had launched a full-fledged tank attack. With powerful counterattacking, the Indian troops killed more than 18 Pakistani Rangers and the rest were brought back to india as prisoners.
The two teams – Team Alpha & Team Charlie, successfully infiltrated the enemy base & travelled for 500 kms inside the enemy territory without having any proper knowledge of the area, without the modern day technologies. With proper planning of the entire project, the team successfully came back to India without suffering a single casualty. This is considered as the 1st ever surgical strike launched by India on Pakistan. Lt. Daljit Singh & Lt. MPS Chaudhary were awarded the Mahavir Chakra, for showing unmatchable leadership & courage.
As the Indian army completed its strike on Islamkot, a ceasefire was launched & Pakistan officially surrendered to India on December 16th, 1971. This war led to the independence and formation of People’s Republic of Bangladesh.