Monday, December 5, 2011

Chapter-3: Damage Assessment

18th December, 2013 - 11:00 local time

Chittagong Medical College Hospital

Bespectacled doctor came out from VIP ward and proceeded towards special waiting room. He talked to a Bangladeshi Army Major standing there for a minute and left the room.

“Doctor says that we can talk to him for some time but General is still in shock and sedatives will take some time to wear off.” Major said while looking at his companions in the room.As they walked towards VIP ward, soldiers guarding the area saluted major and wondered who his companions were. While some of them looked like their countrymen, two of them were clearly foreigners. Must be General’s Arabian friends they thought. They couldn't be more wrong.

Major dismissed a Captain standing at attention near the door and closed it from inside once his group walked inside. Young Captain was loyal to him and a man of faith, but he was too young to understand the games that he played. May be he’ll be ready for it soon he thought.As they went towards General Hasan’s bed, he looked at them in amazement and almost screamed from fear.

“Calm down General Sir, by Allah’s grace you are safe and amongst friends. Doctor says that you should not get too excited. We are here just to meet you and ask few questions about attack on your life.” Major said trying to comfort the wounded man. He just remembered that this man was his senior by many years in service and he should have saluted him like a good soldier. But this was an unusual situation and General was in no shape to remember lapse on his part.

“Why don’t you go and talk to that sad excuse of a man Commodore Nazrul Ahmed?” replied Hasan in a voice that contained more anger than pain.

“You mean commander of Navy’s SWADS?” asked a senior officer from Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) responsible for gathering military intelligence and policing ranks of Bangladeshi armed forces. Special Warfare Diving and Salvage (SWADS) is the elite special operations force of Bangladeshi Navy.

“Yes. He has doubts about true faith and has sold his soul to that great Satan in the West. I have known him for many years. He was a decent man, but after he went to Amrika (USA) for training with their Navy SEALs, he forgot his purpose in life and started thinking like those kafir (unbeliever). He thinks that I am a threat to safety of our country and that my actions have increased hostility between Bangladesh and that country of baniyas (traders)” Hasan’s heart rate was increasing now and heart rate monitor next to his bed showed a sharp spike. He went on “Nazrul’s men from SWADS attacked us. But Allah be praised, they left me for dead and made a mistake. Now those pigs and their families will pay for their crimes.” Hasan was clearly agitated now and heart rate monitor made shrill beeps. A doctor and his assistant ran inside and prepared to sedate him.

Bangladesh Navy SWADS during exercise
Bangladesh Navy SWADS during exercise
“Take it easy Sir; we don’t want to lose a brave soldier like you. We’ll see to it that perpetrators of this attack will be punished to discourage such incidents in future” assured the officer from DGFI. But he knew that it would be easier said than done. He signaled others to move out and left the room as sedatives took effect on Hasan.

They all walked out and got into Major’s official jeep. Since this was a sensitive matter, Major had done away with the driver and drove the car towards his office. First phase of damage assessment was over.

“So what do you think?” This time it was a Pakistani officer from Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

DGFI man responded “there might be some truth in what old man said. There was a theft at SWADS barracks few days back and equipment was reported stolen. Our investigation confirms that ammunition used during attack on Hasan and his friends was stolen from armoury. All that remains to be seen is whether theft was staged by some insiders or was it an external enemy”.

ISI officer asked “How reliable is this Commodore Ahmed of yours?” to which DGFI man replied “he is one of the best operators in our armed forces. His methods are unconventional as expected from a special forces chap, but he is loyal to the country. I can’t say the same about his faith, but I don’t doubt his integrity either.”

“Hmmm. I think you might be right. Lack of faith does not make him a traitor”

“I had chat with Obaid and he said that one of the attackers spoke Bangla. Not polished, but the sort spoken in villages. But that is not conclusive evidence and brings us back to where we began from. One thing is for certain that it was well-planned strike with all the trappings of involvement of special forces.”

“We must find out the actors behind this attack and their intentions. And we must do it as early as possible unless this event lowers morale of fighters in India. That would be a major setback to our plans. I am already getting reports that they are questioning our commitment to their cause. They think that we could not protect their leader in a foreign country then it would make more sense for them to lay down their arms. I have promised them fresh shipments and couple of my men to guide them till we find somebody to fill Kamei’s place.”

Pakistan Army SSG troops in HALO gear
Pakistan Army SSG troops in HALO gear
“How good are these SWADS boys?” asked Colonel Shamsher Baloch.  He had been silent all this while. He was from Special Service Group (SSG) of Pakistan Army and was not much of a talker.This was answered by Major “pretty good I would say. They train with US Navy SEALs and are professionals”

“That is nice. But professionals don’t leave behind witnesses to tell the tale” SSG man remarked. Major applied brakes all of a sudden and looked back. “What do you mean?” he asked.

Colonel Baloch lit a cigarette and said “I think somebody is trying to send a message and a loud one at that”.




18th December, 2013 - 21:00 IST

Khengjang Zamvung (Indo-Myanmar border - 23°57'14.24"N 94°11'16.26"E)

Mimin Haokip took last sip of rice wine from his glass and sprinkled some of it on his tattered coat. He had to live up to his cover as village drunk and this ritual was very essential to maintain that cover. He walked out of his hut and stumbled at door on purpose. He made a quick survey of his surroundings while taking his time to get back on feet. It was pitch dark outside and most villagers were asleep. Even if there was someone in the streets, he/she would have ignored Haokip as he was known to roam around at odd hours. Haokip was not concerned about villagers, but he was afraid of being spotted by UNLF cadres who used to visit nearby villages. Frequency of their visits had increased manifold in last few months. They were searching for informers and were ready to execute anyone based on mere suspicion. Haokip had a few close shaves with them, but he had survived. Due to increased activity of insurgents around his village, he had not been able to pass on information about infiltration to his Indian Army contacts. Inability to pass information meant no payment. And now he was running out of money, so he needed to meet Captain Ajay Pathak. Moreover he had received information about major infiltration attempt in the area and expected a huge amount of cash and Old Monk rum as his reward.

Haokip kept walking slowly and stumbling after few steps to keep up with his cover and check his surroundings. It took him 20 minutes to get outside his village. Once he was sure that nobody was following or observing him, he started walking briskly to the rendezvous point. After walking for little more than a mile, he found the spot. He crouched and pretended to take a leak in that position. After few seconds he got a gentle tap on his back and he stood up.

“I thought you were executed. But either you are smart or those misguided youngsters are not able to think because of opium” observed Captain Pathak of 21 Para (Special Forces) with a slight smile. Intelligence business is such that even though you may not like a person or his reasons for co-operating, but you always took good care of your sources.

Indian Army PARA SF troops with Tavor rifles
Indian Army PARA SF troops with Tavor rifles

“Sahab, I don’t get drunk but just pretend to be drunk and that has worked for me so far. I try to avoid unnecessary risks as well and that is why I didn’t meet you earlier. I had collected lot of information and wanted to pass it on, but UNLF keeps visiting this area more often than they did” replied Haokip in broken Hindi.

“Good thing you didn’t get too adventurous. I lost couple of informers in recent purges and I can’t stop feeling bad about it. I wish I had known about it earlier then I could have saved them and bagged some UNLF buggers. Anyways, tell me what is happening.”

“Sahab, a large number of arms will be inserted through the border in day or two. Today morning I went across the border and heard one guide discussing about it with his drinking partner. He was saying that he was being paid much more than normal to guide some men and arrange for mules to carry some stuff. I am pretty sure they won’t be bringing milk from that side of the border. It has to be weapons, but I am not sure about men. Usually these gun-toting kids cross on their own as this is their backyard and they know lay of the land.”

“How sure are you about this information? Did you try to confirm it through any other sources?” Pathak asked.

“I know some guys who own mules. I visited them casually and asked them about their health and business. One of them told me that he has got some new clients and they pay well without haggling. I also managed to find out their area of infiltration, but they were not sure about when it would happen. From what they said it might be within two days. I didn’t probe further as I didn’t want to raise suspicion”

“Thik hai. What is the probable area for infiltration?” This guy is really smart. Knows how much far he should push his luck. Good for him and bad for those who would try to infiltrate.

“It is one mile from here. I can show it to you right now if you want.”

Indian Army Para SF deep sea diver coming ashore
Indian Army Para SF deep sea diver coming ashore

“Alright, you walk ahead, I’ll follow you. Try to act like a drunk” Pathak said with a smile. Haokip grinned and nodded. His grin would have vanished if he had known that Naik Mishra and Sepoy Iqbal were observing him through night sight mounted on Tavor rifles. While Haokip moved ahead, Pathak signaled both of them to follow him. They maintained their distance covering each other and making sure that there were no bad guys around.After walking for around half an hour they reached their area of interest.

“This is the area Sahab”

“Ok. Your job is over. Take this money and rum. Drink as much as you want tonight so that you don’t have to pretend to be drunk tomorrow morning” Pathak said handing over a plastic bottle filled with rum and bundle of cash that had been captured a week back from dead insurgents.

Pathak watched Haokip dig earth nearby and bury most of the cash there. Haokip was smart he thought. This way he would be away from cash, so in case UNLF paid him a visit, they won’t find any proof of him being an informer. Some of the stuff that could never be taught in school was grasped so well by this villager. This business was like a jungle where only fittest and smartest survived and Haokip he thought was a survivor.

Haokip started towards his village and Pathak watched him leave. After few minutes he got his GPS out and started plotting co-ordinates of that area. Once he was finished, he waved randomly. That was the signal for him and his two troopers to move out.

Indian Army Parachute Regiment insignia and SF badge
Indian Army Parachute Regiment insignia and SF badge
An hour later, Iqbal and Mishra were off to sleep while Pathak sipped on vodka with his company commander Major Nikhil Jacobs. Along with alcohol he also drank the information Pathak had brought. Brains started working in overdrive and a rough plan was formulated.

“Alright Pathak, we have rough plan in place. We’ll fine tune it with troops tomorrow morning. Let’s get those buggers. If you think who they are then it would be a big embarrassment for our neighbours. And more than that, we might be able to identify head of the snake and cut it. You got a name for this operation” Nikhil said while biting chicken tikka.

“Yes Sir. How about Operation Johnny Walker?” and both officers from Para SF had a hearty laugh.

8 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  2. Dear Shera,

    I can understand how you feel about our neighbouring country. But please mind your language. I am forced to remove your comment for foul language used. If you have anything to say, please use parliamentary language to communicate it.

    Regards,

    Vishal

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  3. Dear sir, when is next post i m waiting eagerly.

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  4. Most probably by next weekend. Watch this space. :)

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  5. Very interesting. Your knowledge of the weaponry, equipment and composition of special forces on both sides of the border is authentic (with pictures and all).

    Do you know that one Gujarati officer Capt. Jhala (I think he is from Saurashtra) of 2 Para (SF) won Kirti Chakra in J & K? Just for your info.

    Keep it up, and maintain the continuity. So far, the going is good!

    -Capt. Narendra

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  6. Dear sir, where are waiting for soooooooooo long ..my weekend gone way long... prob its 2nd weekand going to..want double dose

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  7. Sorry buddy, been out there working in the field. Give me a few days please.

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  8. Vishal sir, bacho ki jan lo ge kya ?!

    ReplyDelete