Monday, January 31, 2011

War Scenario. Part XX

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All of them were saddened by loss of 4 of their friends but the hammering they had handed out to Pakis had helped their emotions somewhat. He called medic Havildar Hariom and asked him to assemble a team to collect bodies of the dead. He inquired about the injured soldier and came to know that his condition was stable but required more expert medical attention. He at first considered sending him down carried by 2 or more of his men on a stretcher but then decided against it. Path was too dangerous and weather too bad. Additionally he needed every hand to defend the post against further Paki attacks. He set out on another tour of his post to rearrange his defences. He moved the mortar teams to more covered nests and away from each other in order to protect them against artillery fire. He positioned 4 of his riflemen near the machine gun bunkers on western side from where 1st wave of Paki infantry had tried to break in. His artillery crew was now idle due to lack of ammunition and he ordered them to dig up additional trenches and place sandbags to provide additional cover for riflemen and mortar crews.

His men were still placing the sandbags when shelling from Pakistani side started again sending the men scurrying for cover. This time firing was much more intense and shells were landing all over the place. All out of ammunition, Indian artillery men on peak could only watch helplessly as they saw their comrades huddled in trenches and bunkers.

Subhranjan immediately grabbed the radio handset and requested fire support. By this time, Indians had managed to setup the fire locating radar and were analysing the flight path of shells to plot the exact location of Paki guns. “ Three minutes for fire support. Stand by.” came the answer on radio.
“We don't have three minutes. Hurry up ! Hurry up!” Subhranjan thought with quiet desperation as one shell landed very close to one machine gun bunker on northern side, damaging one of it's walls, but thankfully nobody was injured.
It seemed like hours but finally he heard the rumble of Indian guns as they fired after tracing Paki gun positions. Indian soldiers on hearing it cheered loudly in spite of being under fire themselves. But much to their disappointment and puzzlement, this time Pakis didn't stop their shelling, neither did they change their target. Another of Paki shells this time landed close to another bunker on eastern side, collapsing part of it's walls and roof, injuring the two soldiers inside. Havildar Hariom at once jumped out of his cover and started administering first aid to the wounded soldiers. Two other soldiers came to help and carried their wounded comrades to comparative safety away from the damaged bunker.

By this time, Indian guns were starting to find their mark and Pakis were forced to halt their fire and move their guns after suffering a few causalities themselves. This earned a few minutes of respite for beleaguered defenders, but they could nothing except shaking their heads to stop the buzzing in their ears. Indian artillery guns too stopped firing as they had no way of locating new position of Paki guns untill they started firing again.

“What's going on down there with Pakis ? Any luck ?” Subhranjan asked one of the soldiers keeping watch against Paki infantry attacks. Tearing his eyes off the night vision device he shook his head, “Can't see any movement. I'm not sure that they'll dare to launch another attack again after the beating they got. Can't see far enough anyway “

“I wouldn't count on that. Keep looking and don't let your guard down.” Subhranjan said and went off to check on wounded.

He found them lying in the bunker on almost other side of the peak which usually served as storage. Havildar Hariom was still bandaging one of them when he entered. “They are out of danger but none of them is in condition to fire a gun. Although I've done the best I could, they'll need to be evacuated soon.”

Subhranjan nodded, “ I understand. Reinforcements are on their way. They'll be here soon and we can evacuate them then.”

“They better hurry sir. I don't know whether we'll be able to survive another attack.”

“Keep faith HariOm.” Subhranjan smiled grimly and went out to check his defences again.

Loss of one bunker each on north and west side had weakened his position considerably against a determined infantry assault. He ordered one INSAS LMG to be taken out of the damaged bunker and placed in the trench covered by sandbags just beside it. He placed two more riflemen around it to prevent flanking attacks. His artillery crew too had picked up INSAS assault rifles and were acting as riflemen now. Indians were just beginning to settle in their defensive positions when Pakis started shelling again, this time from a different position. Indian artillery crews were even more quick this time to start the countering fire. Right about than, Indian guards noticed some movement on both sides of the slope and alerted Subhranjan. He relayed the coordinates of suspected enemy movement Indian artillery crews and they in turn let loose a volley of air-burst shells. These shells burst in mid-air and pepper their target below with red hot shrapnel.

Subhranjan wanted to use as much artillery support as possible before the enemy came too close for Indian artillery to target. By then, they'd come in range of Indian mortars but there was not enough ammunition left. There was another positive sighting of enemy troops, this time on northern side. One of the guns again changed it's target and this time fired on northern side. Pakistanis by this time had started to fire smoke rounds from their mortars to hide themselves. Even though it was not a foolproof solution against thermal detectors, it still gave them enough breathing space to hide their exact location. Taking cover behind large rocks and ledges Paki infantry started inching towards Indian position for the second time in two hours.
Subhranjan watched the developing situation with increasing concern. His first priority was to stop Paki mortars from coming within firing range. Although Indians had the advantage of increased range due to altitude advantage, there were not enough of them. Indian 155mm didn't have a good firing solution on the mountain slope. To make conditions worse, the enemy was hiding behind rocks, smoke and fog. Visibility was getting worse with every minute and soon his men would be unable to see anything without NV.

In pure desperation, he picked up his rifle and a binocular with thermal sights and asked Lance Naik Joginder to accompany him with radio. Right in front of his amazed soldiers and in face of artillery shells pounding all around them, the two men got out of the bunker and started running towards the advancing enemy. Using whatever cover they could find, the two men started moving cautiously downwards. Keeping his eyes glued to the thermal sight Subhranjan was in lead while the other man followed him. They advanced 10-12 metres after which they stopped and scanned the area around them for enemy and again repeated the process. They had traveled this way for little less than a km when Subhranjan observed a platoon of enemy soldiers racing upwards almost at the foothills of the mountain. He grabbed hold of the radio and relayed the enemy's coordinates to his mortar crews. Within seconds they responded with a volley of rounds that killed most of the enemy soldiers who were caught in the open.

Alerted by the attack, another group of enemy soldiers broke their cover behind which they were hiding and turned back. Subhranjan observed them fleeing and was tempted to drop a couple of mortar rounds on them but wisely restrained himself. “There must be more enemy around I should save for.” I told himself. Changing his direction towards another likely enemy approach place, he started scanning the area again. He again found some enemy soldiers advancing, but this time dispersed over a much larger area. He again relayed the coordinates to his mortar crews. Resulting fire was not enough to wipe out whole group. A few survivors took cover behind rocks in comparative safety. Somehow they managed to setup a mortar and started firing back. But the weapon was too short-legged to reach Indian positions.

“Yes. Keep wasting ammo firing at the enemy you can't even see, let alone reach. Bloody moron.” Subhranjan muttered.

“Good for us. Heh.” Joginer chipped in.

Probably drawn by the sound of their own men firing, the fleeing Paki group had turned back and started towards the lone Paki mortar firing at the Indians. Subhranjan waited for them to reach closer and ordered his men to fire again. This time, all the survivors from 2nd part were wiped out as one Indian mortar round landed right on top of the Paki position. Another round landed very close to their comrades group running towards them. Contrary to common sense, they were running in close to each other and only 2 men survived unhurt. Both of which immediately turned on their heels and ran back again.

“I wonder what will their CO say to that.“ Subhranjan quipped.

“Award a Hila-Le-Bakistan, maybe ? Joginder replied. Subhranjan could see his teeth in dark even without the night vision goggles as he grinned from ear to ea


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