Srinagar, July 14 (IANS) It was on June 13, more than a month after the detection of intrusion in Kargil in 1999, that the first physical evidence came about the intruders being Pakistan Army personnel and not the “30-40 mercenaries” as thought earlier.
This is what Lt General (retd) Amar Aul, the then Brigade Commander of 8 Mountain Division, recalled while talking about the war in which he led operations to clear Tololing, Tiger Hill and Pt 5140 which had been occupied by the Pakistani troops.
“On May 12, 1999, we were ordered to move to Drass (in Kargil district of Jammu and Kashmir) from our station in Wussan village in Ganderbal district in Kashmir,” the veteran soldier said in an interview to IANS.
“Initially, I was told there are just 30 to 40 mercenaries. I was given the task of Drass and Maskoh sectors,” he said.
A battalion-strong force with him established a camp adjacent to Drass town “where we were under shelling from enemy artillery”.
He said he was asked to start the operation straight away but he told his command that acclimatisation and reconnaissance would take some time before the troops could go for the assault.
“I just had one battalion with me as the other battalions had already been deployed. We took six days to acclimatise,” Aul recalled.
On May 22, 18 Grenadiers were asked to clear the ridge lines of Tololing top.
“We proceeded slowly and by May 31, we took over all the ridge lines of Tololing top. The enemy still had the top in sufficient strength,” he said, adding, “we had no porters, civilians or animals to carry the heavy weapons. We brought in porters from Baltal to help us”.
The then Brigade Commander said that fresh troops and artillery support arrived on June 6. Bofors guns arrived on June 10.