bullets do the talking
Lush green valley, majestic Manawar Tawi river flowing nearby
and the groove of trees all around this forward post……..……….. Standing
on one of the last Observation Posts (OPs) of Indian army deployed on the
Line of Control in Pallanwalla area , one cannot help appreciate the breathtaking
beauty of the valley beneath which can be approached by crossing streams,
pine trees and peacocks dancing all around.
“Don’t go by what you see here, only bullets do the talking here,” said
an army officer shooting off a warning. Taking his piece of advice lightly,
it seems to be one of the most beautiful places in the world with great
scenic beauty. But as the sound of gunfire breaks the stillness of the
tranquil surroundings in this forward Indian post on the Line of Control,
with shells and bullets landing from across the Line of Control, one realizes
about the palpable tension all along the Line of Control in Jammu region.
Everyone present there on the OP had to run helter skelter when the first
mortar shell landed there breaking the eerie silence. And many followed
the first fire shell.
"Don't believe what you see here. This beauty and peace is deceptive,"
said Colonel R.K.Satyan of Pallwanwalla brigade informing that the groove
of trees is the one where Pakistani army chief General Yahia Khan had camped
for days together during infamous Chamb attack in 1971. Visible from the
naked eye, just a kilometre away is Chamb sector which India had lost to
the Pakistani forces in 1971 war .Even Pakistan had occupied areas right
up to Akhnoor, just 35 kms from Jammu. But under Tashkent Agreement, as
India returned Haji Peer Pass to them, so did Pakistan as they returned
the areas of Akhnoor and Pallanwalla to us but retained Chamb.
Tension, like other areas of Line of Control, is quite palpable in Pallanwalla
sector, situated some 55 kms from Jammu. Massive buildup by the Pakistani
army all along the Line of Control and International Border in Jammu region
has kept the Indian army in the high state of preparedness to face any
kind of situation.
Colonel Satyan informs that in this sector, the 66 Infantry Brigade
of Pakistan army is facing the Indian forward posts.Besides, there is movement
of Mangla-based 1 Striking Corps, two-and-a-half infantry divisions of
the Pakistan Army and armoured brigades to Kharian sector, Sialkot- Shakargarh
sectors, 31 Corps based in Bahawalpore and 5 Corps based in Karachi to
the LoC areas in Jammu.
Strategically, Pallanwalla assumes much significance for Indian army
which had lost Chamb to Pakistan in 1971.Just one km away is Tanda area
of Pakistan, Gujarat is 28 kms and Jhelum district is hardly 20 kms. And
the headquarters of 66 Infantry Brigade is at Padhar at a distance of five
kms from the forward post. Incidentally, most of the villages in
Pallanwalla sector have been vacated since Operation Vijay when Pakistan
army had shelled heavily on these villages. About 40,000 villagers of Pallanwalla
have been living in tents in Devipur village of Akhnoor.
"This is the reason that there has been less infiltration from
this side as there is no supporting population in the villages," said Colonel
Similar is the case in Noushera sector which incidentally is the most
active stretch of LoC in the entire region with a track record of numerous
Pakistani army’s Border Action Teams (BAT) attacks on Indian forward posts
repulsed this year besides many attempts made to capture Indian posts in
this particular sector. Mortar and direct shelling which is an everyday
affair, has even made the inhabitants of Indian villages like Sariya , Khamba, Jhanger etc spread down in the valley and also on the ridgelines
perfectly battle-inoculated. Situated just opposite Mirpur
and Kotli areas of Pakistan, Indian army has been kept in the state of high-preparednes in Jhanger sub-sector as war clouds are hovering over
the state for past sometime.
A new trend that has been observed in the post-US strikes on Afghanistan
on the Line of Control is the increased use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) by the Pakistani army.”What they want by this is the information
regarding our logistics and other formations besides related things,”said
another army officer confirming that an unknown number of UAVs are being
used by the enemy for the purpose. Asked specifically about their numbers,
he replied that initially they, wanted to record the number of UAVs but
when ‘we saw that it was an everyday affair, we dropped it.’
Though infiltration is less in Noushera, yet the terrain of area where
the Line of Control runs like the ‘C’ alphabet, helps infiltration. The
closeness of Pakistani villages like Sukerteras, Sakeeran, Mela, Kotli, Batala, and Khureta spreading out in the valleys and ridges right up to
the Line of Control is yet another factor contributing to the infiltration.
The uniqueness of this sub-sector lies in the fact that the BATs of
Pakistani army had tried number of times of capture Indian post. The Border
action Teams comprising of Pakistani army commandoes and militants were
constituted two years ago to facilitate infiltration and capture Indian
post. The BATs plan, operate and raid Indian post on the frontline besides
laying ambush on Indian patrols and try to capture Indian posts.
Then why bids to capture Indian posts are becoming a regular thing in
this sector? Replies a Major of Naushera Brigade: “Because whatever you
capture is yours and any area which give you tactical advantage, they try
to capture it. That’s why you call it volatile LoC”.
Though Indian jawans have foiled six BAT attacks on the LoC this year,
mostly in Kalsian Khori Baba area, and have foiled three infiltration bids,
the level of firing has undergone a tremendous increase. In the post-US
strikes on Afghanistan, Pakistani army has been firing 107 mm multibarrel
rocket launchers which have the capability of smashing a bunkers and causing
the extensive damage.