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June 24, 1999
The Rediff Interview/ Brigadier Mohinder Singh
'There is no question of leaving the hills unmanned now, whatever be the cost'
Brigadier Mohinder Singh, who retired from the Indian Army in 1979, feels that if the Indian government had not accepted cease-fire in 1948 for another 48 hours, there would have been no Pakistan Occupied Kashmir today. In this exclusive interview to Onkar Singh, he says that this one mistake is costing us the lives of hundreds of soldiers.
What was the position in 1948 when India accepted the cease-fire?
We had been winning in almost all the sectors. I had advanced 21 kilometres beyond Gurej when the cease-fire orders came. General Kulwant Singh wanted another 48 hours to complete the operations in Jammu and Kashmir. If the Government of India had then accepted his plea, there would have been no Pakistan Occupied Kashmir today. The whole problem of Kashmir would have been solved in 1948 itself.
You mean, we had taken over some of their key positions?
The most unfortunate part is that we had to come back 21 km after having won some of the key positions. In 1965 and later in the 1971 wars, we again captured some of the key positions but then we had to give them up as well.
Since you have served in the Kargil sector, what according to you is the enemy's gameplan?
Pakistan's gameplan is clear and simple. They want to occupy key hills from where they can attack our line of communication and disrupt our supply lines to Ladakh and Siachen. They almost succeeded in their attempt but the timely detection of their presence by the Indian Army, and the use of air power against them thwarted their gameplan. Whoever took the decision to use air power to dislodge the intruders needs to be complimented.
Is it true that the enemy is using our bunkers?
These bunkers in which they are holed out right now belong to the Indian Army. Since the terrain is difficult and it is not humanly possible to man such places, both India and Pakistan used to climb down just before the onset of winter.
Have we managed to send an effective message to Pakistan through our action against the intruders?
Of course, we have given them a clear message. They cannot hope to do things like this and get away with it. Our army and airforce have dealt with them effectively. The use of air power against the Pakistani army regulars masquerading as intruders was beyond their expectation. If the intruders were really militants, as they claim, the use of air power would have made them run for their lives. Now pitched battles are being fought on almost all the hills and this clearly indicates that that the intruders are in fact Pakistani army regulars in civil uniforms.
Do you foresee a situation wherein the present war could extend to other parts of our international border?
Yes, this is possible because Pakistan has already announced a general alert and has moved its army to the borders. One point which has gone in our favour is that international opinion has been against Pakistan. Even countries like America and Britain, which normally back Pakistan, have called for the withdrawal of Pakistani troops.
Even China is not supporting Pakistan...
China may not support Pakistan openly but internally Pakistan must have been assured of its support. China now wants to have friendly relations with India because after the fall of USSR, China sees itself as second superpower in the world. That may be the factor which may have forced the hands of Chinese political leaders not to support Pakistan at least openly.
Do you think there was an intelligence failure on India's part in Kargil?
Of course, intelligence agencies like RAW and the IB failed in their duty. These days we have the facility of air surveillance. We should have used it effectively. Not that we did not have information. But we were found lacking in our response. I think it was a mistake to send a patrol party of seven or eight people, particularly after the enemy movement had been brought to the notice of the army authorities. We should have sent larger contingents and also used our air surveillance to pinpoint enemy positions. If we had done this in the first week of May itself, things would still have been different.
Do you think we would have to constantly man the hills now?
There is no question of leaving them unmanned now, whatever be the cost. We should also give our officers and men better equipment to fight.
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