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1999 Kargil War: Battling The Batalik Sector Infiltration

1999 Kargil War: Battling The Batalik Sector Infiltration
(Source - Twitter account of Lt Gen Gyan Bhushan)

Armed Forces

1999 Kargil War: Battling The Batalik Sector Infiltration

The operations to recapture Batalik were conducted in five phases, with 11 battalions.

The Batalik Sector infiltration was one of the key events that to India going to war against Pakistan.

After it became clear that there was an infiltration into this area, the positioned Indian infantry battalions got reinforcements from other troops. These units were quickly deployed into action along the four ridge lines in the sector where the Pakistani Army was heavily entrenched.

Initially, it was believed that the infiltrators were just militants, and that there were approximately 45 militants holding the area.

However, it was only when the 12 Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry rushed onto the scene of the battle that they realised that the Batalik Sector infiltration comprised more than 600 Pakistani Army soldiers, and the enemy was much stronger than they were expecting.

Deploying troops to fight massive enemy infiltration

This led to fresh units being deployed for reinforcements, and units such as the Ladakh Scouts, 10 Para Special Forces and the 5 Para Special Forces were sent in.

One of the major victories for the Indian Armed Forces in this area was the capture of Point 5390. Crucial for observation, this point was used to direct artillery fire on enemy positions.

The operations to recapture Batalik were conducted in five phases, with 11 battalions. Because of the absence of any intelligence information on the infiltration beyond the Indian Line of Control, it was left up to the brigade to assess, identify, and then take suitable action.

Initially, 3 Division allocated 1/11 Grenadiers, and 12 Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry (JAK LI), supported by two batteries of 15 Field Regiment, to the brigade. Later, 1 Bihar was inducted, and Corps Headquarters deployed 10 Para Special Forces on deep strike missions.

Fire support, including Bofors and Multiple Barrelled Rocket Launchers, was built up with four regiments. With the identification of additional intrusions, Ladakh Scouts, 5 Para Special Forces, 17 Garhwal, 22 Grenadiers and 14 Sikh were also inducted.

(Read – The Batalik Sector Battles: Lesser-Known Stories From The Kargil War)

Recapturing the Batalik Sector

The second phase focused on defining the operations and securing enemy flanks. The western flank was captured when 10 Para and 5 Para cut off enemy lines of communication and captured parts of Tharu ridge in May.

A corridor was established along the Junk Lungpa by the 12 JAK LI, while Point 5203 was captured on June 21 which secured the eastern flank.

After securing both the eastern and western flanks, the third phase plans were set in motion. This plan sought to exploit tactical gains and cut off the supply routes to engineer the enemy’s collapse. Between the 1st and 8th of July, troops from 17 Gharwal, Ladakh Scouts, 12 JAK LI, and 1/11 Grenadiers attacked and captured features towards this extent.

The securing of the two flanks and capturing of the tactical positions gave the Indian army many advantages, which it exploited to finally battle the Batalik Sector infiltration in its entirety and secure a victory in the war.

The fourth phase started after all enemy supplies were eliminated. This involved dislodging enemies from important heights in the Kargil region. The Jubar Top was captured after fierce battles by 1 Bihar, while Muntho Dhalo and Ganisabar were also secured by 5 Para. All these points were in Indian control by 11 July 1999.

Securing an advantage for the future

The last phase of this battle was to ensure tactical advantage for the future.

Between July 23 and July 28, the Indian army oversaw operations to capture important points on the Line of Control which would provide defensive positions and effective dominations over these areas for the future.

The victory of the Indian army to dislodge all the enemy positions and capture important sectors to end the war came at a high cost. Battling the Batalik Sector infiltration led to a loss of 125 soldiers to enemy fire, and about 300 wounded soldiers.

The brigade also won one Param Vir Chakra, two Maha Vir Chakras, 24 Vir Chakras, four Yudh Seva Medals, 54 Sena Medals and one Vishist Seva Medal. Six battalions from the brigade were awarded Battle or Theatre Honour Batalik/Kargil for their exemplary performance. Six others got the Unit Citation from the Chief of the Army Staff.

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