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Home History The Siachen Conflict Confrontation at Siachen, 26 June 1987

Confrontation at Siachen, 26 June 1987

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INTRODUCTION

After the end of the first Indo-Pak War of 1947-48, a cease Fire Line (CFL) was established from Manawar in Jammu to Khor (NJ9842) in Ladakh just short of the Karakoram glaciers. No precise line was extended beyond this. Under the Shimla Agreement the CFL was redefined and named the Line of Control (LoC). In the late 1970s the Pakistanis started to show the area as belonging to them. Both sides responded by creeping in to establish posts. In 1984 the Pakistanis started sponsoring mountaineering expedition from this area and their maps started showing the Siachen area as their territory. In 1987 the Pakistanis intruded and established a feature, naming it Qaid Post, at 6452 meters on the Saltoro ridge overlooking the defences on the Bilafond Pass. From this post they would snipe at our helicopters and defences. The posts at Amar and Sona, which were maintained by air, became untenable. The decision was made to retake Qaid Post.

THE BATTLE

The Siachen glacier is one of the worlds most inhospitable terrain. It is a frozen river of ice with temperatures from -35º Celsius in summer to -60º Celsius in winter. Add to it unseen crevasses, avalanches and howling winds and it has all the appearances of hell. Many a times the inclement weather would clamp down for days at end, leaving the Indian Air Force as the only lifeline to the outside world. On 18 April 1987 the Pakistanis from Quaid Post fired on our troops at Sonam. One JCO and one OR of 5 Bihar was killed. The eviction of the Pakistanis became essential. On May 29 a patrol of 8 JAK LI was asked to probe the approaches to Quaid Post. Led by 2nd Lt. Rajiv Pande they started through a difficult route, a sheer almost 90º wall of 500 meters at 1100 hours.

They were undetected till they were about 30 meters from the post. The first man over the ice wall was Lance Havildar Mulk Raj Sharma who equipped with only a pick axe established a number of footholds on the vertical ice wall. The patrol inched its way onwards the post. At the last moment they were sighted by the enemy who opened fire with a heavy machine gun. The heavy fire at close range instantaneously killed 2nd Lt. Pande, Lance Havildar Sharma and four others. Three men survived to tell the tale. However they did not die in vain, as they had laid a rope to the top. A pall of gloom descended on 8 JAK LI which gave way to cold fury. A new plan to capture the post was launched. The task force was led by Major Varinder Singh. It consisted of 2 Officers, 3 JCOs and 50 ORs. Code-named Operation Rajiv in honor of 2nd Lt. Rajiv Pande VrC, it was launched on 23 June 1987.

Due to bad weather the force took nearly four hours to travel one km. It took some time to locate the rope causing the attack to be postponed. The evening of June 24th, the task force located the rope and climbed the ice wall. Having established a base, one team under Subedar Harnam Singh was sent to the attack. En route they came across the bodies of their fallen comrades. At 0330 hours on June 25th they were detected and fired upon. The base team could not provide covering fire as the extreme cold had jammed the weapons. The attack was aborted. It was now more than 48 hours and the limited food and water supply was running out. Cold and exhausted the troops sucked at ice to quench their thirst. On the night of June 25/26th, a second attack led by Subedar Sansar Chand was launched. Once again they were detected and repulsed.

It was now three nights out at 21000 feet in biting cold. Since the weapons were jamming in the night a do-or-die day attack was launched. At 1330 hours on 26 June 1987, a force under Naib Subedar Bana Singh with 4 ORs launched an audacious daytime attack. Assaulting with demonic fervour they entered Quaid Post and a bitter hand-to-hand combat ensued, killing 5 Pakistani soldiers. Soon Qaid Post was in Indian hands. It was later found that they belonged to "Shaheen Company" of 3 Cdo Btn of the elite Special Services Group. The morale of the Pakistani Army and especially the Special Services Group was permanently scarred. To this day there is an constant attempt to take back the post. In honour of Naib Subedar Bana Singh's heroic actions the post was renamed Bana Post and he was awarded the Param Vir Chakra, India's highest medal for valour. The scroll of honour at the Siachen base camp reads, "Quartered in snow, silent to remain. When the bugle calls, they shall rise and march again."

Fallen members of the 8 JAK LI at Bana Post

2nd Lt. Rajiv Pande, VrC
Naib Subedar Hem Raj, VrC
Naib Subedar Rashpal Singh
Havildar Ram Dutt
Havildar Mulk Raj Sharma
Naik Tara Chand
Naik Kuldeep Singh
Rifleman Om Raj
Rifleman Sham Lal
Rifleman Shiv Ram
Rifleman Girdhari Lal
Rifleman Kashmiri Lal
Rifleman Kulwant Raj
Rifleman Pritam Singh
Rifleman Daleep Kumar
Rifleman Kuldeep Singh

 

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