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The Batalik Sector Battles: Lesser-Known Stories From The Kargil War

The Batalik Sector Battles: Lesser-Known Stories From The Kargil War
The Batalik Sector; official insignia for the 1 Bihar regiment (enclosed) [Source- Official Twitter account of ADGPI- Indian Army]

Armed Forces

The Batalik Sector Battles: Lesser-Known Stories From The Kargil War

The Indian Armed Forces concentrated troops in Batalik, counter-attacking with heavy artillery and infantry.

The Batalik Sector is a region where the Kargil War saw some of its fiercest battles, but one that is not brought up too frequently.

Before the Kargil War, the Batalik Sector was held by only one infantry battalion, which looked after a frontage of 70km along the Line of Control. However, the infantry only had a 20km stretch on the bank of the Indus river where they had actual control.

The eastern part of this sector, known as the Yaldor sub-sector, was the site of a major Pakistani infiltration. The infiltration spanned almost eight to ten kilometres, and went on to become the site of some major battles of the Kargil War.

The Pakistani Army had knowledge that the Indian Army did not have a permanent presence in the area, leading to them reinforcing their infiltrators with supplies brought in by mules and porters. Towards the colder months, they could successfully use the Pakistani Armed Forces helicopters to drop supplies due to the lack of Indian control.

The objective of this Pakistani infiltration was to create dominance over the Leh-Batalik-Kargil road. Control of the Batalik sector would have ensured that the strategic road would be under constant observation and within firing range, also allowing them to send supplies towards the Siachen glacier.

In response to the infiltration, the major tactic employed by the Indian Armed Forces was to concentrate troops in Batalik, and counter-attack the enemy with heavy artillery and an infantry assault.

The enemy, by then, had established positions along four major ridge lines- Jubar, Kukarthang, Khalubar, and Churubar Po. This caused a major problem for the Indian forces, who had to identify these heavily fortified enemy positions and cut off their supplies in order to isolate and neutralise each camp.

(Read- Manoj Kumar Pandey: The Charge On Khalubar And Other Exploits In The Kargil War)

On 29 May 1999, Point 4262 on the western flank of Batalik was attached by the troops of 1 Bihar. The unit was met with heavy casualties, losing Major M Saravanam, who led the unit while attacking enemy bunkers, in the process.

Important to note here is the fact that before this offensive, the allegiance of the infiltrators was not officially known. One of the campaigns led by Major Saravanam caused the discovery of a pay book belonging to a Pakistani soldier, providing the first concrete evidence of Pakistani involvement.

Despite the Indian Armed Forces’ initial victory in battles in the region, the Batalik sector had to be abandoned at the time due to heavy casualties for India.

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