Battle Of Laleali Strategy and Planning for sure shot victory
India is the land of braves. At the time of war our soldiers have always shown how they can make supreme sacrifices as and when they are required to show their love for motherland. The brave sons fought with vigour and made supreme sacrifices whenever needed. India has fought four major wars since Independence, three with Pakistan and one with China. Many such known and unknown heroic acts of our soldiers went unsung but the tradition continues.
These wars remain inspirations to our soldiers, when it is required to infuse into them the vibration of it. The anecdotes of heroic deeds of our soldiers remain an inspiration and infuse into the soldiers their duty towards their motherland.
Battle of Laleali is famous among armed forces. It is a subject of study for senior and higher command courses, as it is regarded as the most strategic and planned battle. However, it is very less known among the civilian population. Battle of Laleali is a living example of how a war is fought with strategy at tactical combat level, with cool mind, shrewd planning and dedication of the commander to gain victory for certain. The battle is now taught in Army training schools to instil into the officers the will to do the best in adverse conditions of warfare.
The battle was fought strategically by the troops under the leadership of (now Retd Colonel) Maj Virendra Kumar Sahi. He beliveves: “No war can be fully pre-planned and fought. What we can plan are the aims, objectives and a modus operandi based on studies of past war situations and developing them to the current needs and modifying to suit the situations in hand. Most trained armies work on contingency plans to face the changing situations as far as we can assess the enemy reactions. Yet what war presents mostly, if not always, a ‘newer’ situation. The situations that move very fast—the situations which restrict options—situations that leave no opportunity to look back for support and to take advice and there are no runner-ups in war; you got to do or die. Trained military leader is thus left to react with his spontaneous reflexes that are based upon the reflections of past war experience and the vigorous training undergone at specialised warfare training institutions.”
Battle of Laleali, as it is profoundly known in the military history, is named after the Laleali Post in Chhamb Sector of Jammu and Kashmir. It was on the nights of 6th and 7th December 1971 that the battle was fought, when Pakistani troops under a Major (Company Commander) were able to gain a foothold on the forward tip of Laleali Post. Colonel (the then Major) Virendra Kumar Sahi and his troops were entrenched in the well-fortified main Laleali Post, bringing down effective fire on them and thus sealing their further advance.
In order to draw the Indian troops out of trenches enemy resorted to shouting names and abuses. The response from our side of the Army could have helped them in pinpointing our soldiers’ locations to shoot back at them. But our Army played the other way. While maintaining utter silence, as Col Virendra Kumar Sahi says, we kept replying them by rifle shots. Once Indian troops under the leadership of Col Virendra Kumar Sahi kept them engaged, he left the command to his second in command and with selected soldiers quietly moved behind the enemy from a different route in cover of darkness and mortar fire shots, in spite of having the danger of getting killed in such a close combat. But as God wishes so, the enemies were eliminated in a close hand-to-hand combat to regain the ‘tip’ portion of Laleali Post, which was never lost to the enemies. It was during the close combat that Col Virendra Kumar Sahi exhorted his men to grab the enemies. Dedicated to his leader’s command a Lance Nayak from his troops jumped to physically grab the enemy Commander, who turned to shoot him. Swiftly reacting Col Virendra Kumar Sahi ran and kicked the enemy Commander, who rolled down on the grounds giving time to Col Virendra Kumar who hit him with a Sten gun butt and bayoneted him repeatedly as more of our soldiers shot the rest killing the enemy Commander and establishing our victory over them. Col Sahi was decorated with Vir Chakra for his bravery in the battle.
Later Col Virendra Kumar Sahi sent a hand-written citation to Pakistan for their brave Company Commander as also handed over his insurance papers and an unposted letter written by him to his wife. All these were found in his sack. This gesture is the ethos of chivalry that is traditional to our Army. Col Sahi, nostalgically said, “I wish I could meet the brave warrior in any other circumstances; he was doing for his country, what I was doing for mine. There was no personal animosity!” That’s the mettle our officers and men are made of.
Retd Major JS Baloria, Col Virendra Kumar Sahi’s associate, has fond memories of this brave soldier. He says: “Col Sahi is an inspiration to all. He played a very vital role in the Battle of Laleali. He was a soldier with humility. He received more than 40 wounds during the battle. In spite of this he showed his bravery and proved his worth as an able son of motherland. Soldiers should take inspiration from his life.”
When asked by Uday India about the experience Col Virendra Kumar Sahi said: “Whatever I did in the war, I reacted to each enemy move, with the spirit to eliminate the enemies from the battlefield. With Maa Bhawani at my back I looked for no return. It had to work either way—in an ‘honourable martyrdom’ or ‘victory’. That is where the family tradition, upbringing, motivation and training come in. I give credit to them all.”
Brave Col Virendra Kumar Sahi is retired from Army now but he is actively involved in social service and journalism. He is now Senior News Editor, The State Times and Senior Editor with Patrika and also the secretary of Ex-Services League and Welfare Housing Organisation.
When asked about his take on present political turmoil and what is the solution to this problem the brave soldier said: “It is indeed disheartening. What is that thousands of my countrymen made the supreme sacrifices for? All the freedom fighters from Tatya Tope, Rani Jhansi to Shivaji, to the later lot of Pt Govind Vallabh Pant, Lala Lajpat Rai, Netaji, Subhash Chandra Bose, Bhagat Singh, Chandra Shekhar Azad—the list is endless. Then the warrior martyrs of all the wars from 1947 onwards. What is that we have protected from the foreign invaders, and what for? Is it for Raja, Kanimojhi, Kalmadi and Co, Ram Lal, Virbhadra Singh, Babulal Marandi, Lalu Prasad Yadav and the like to swindle the national wealth and keep it in Swiss banks leaving the native deshwasi in the lurch. Even this list is endless now with a scam every week adding up to the list. As a soldier I am pained and strongly feel that if 12 to 14 lakh of us can take on the world’s armed forces to protect the nation, why can’t the rest of the nation of 120 crore take on the enemies within the nation?”
By Joydeepdas gupta from Jammu