On the opening day of the fourth edition of the Military Literature Festival, which is being organised in virtual mode this time, a discussion on the book ‘Mashkoh: Kargil As I Saw It’ was held.
This discussion was moderated by senior journalist Ramesh Vinayak and other participants included Maj Gen Amarjit Singh and Resident Editor of The Indian Express Manraj Grewal Sharma.
This book is a first-hand authentic account of war stories of the ‘Mashkoh Warriors’ by Brig Umesh Singh Bawa, who commanded the 17 Jat during the Kargil war and was awarded Vir Chakra for his gallant actions in the Mashkoh Valley in 1999.
Brig Bawa shared that main aim of writing this book is sharing lessons of war for future generations so that when new wars begin and end, such crucial lessons will not have to be “relearned-rewritten in more blood”. He said that this book would showcase that the mistakes we made during the Kargil war should not be repeated and it is his way of telling the world about the sacrifices and bravery of the soldiers of 17 Jat.
Maj Gen Amarjit Singh said that this book has been penned by Brig Bawa, who has remained on the battlefield and fought braving the bullets during the Kargil war and is a firsthand account of what actually happened. He added that sometimes, people who write military history have not been in the war in person and it is merely a secondhand account.
Manraj Grewal Sharma shared that this book also contains a chapter about lessons which media reporting the war should know. Brig Bawa said that a lot of media was covering some other areas during the Kargil war, but Mashkoh Valley was in the interiors and was strategically located.
“The reason for our success in Mashkoh Valley was because my troops were already acclimatised as we were already deputed in a high altitude area somewhere else. So that’s why my troops had an edge over others and fought bravely,” he shared.
Brig Bawa further shared that the enemy was surrounded from three different directions and his troops had established a firm base with multiple options from three different directions.
“Western side was used to deceive the enemy, whereas the troops had actually decided to launch the assault from south and south eastern direction. It was due to this deception plan that the enemy could not know from where the attack is coming and it helped us,” he said.
Maj Gen Amarjit Singh said that the Kargil war was being fought at an altitude of 16,000 feet, where taking even one step is difficult, “And we salute our soldiers who fought so bravely at that altitude. They not only fought but even won us this war,” he shared.
Brig Umesh Singh Bawa also shared that he has also mentioned in the book that surveillance is the most important in any war, “and over the years, our capabilities have improved and lots of equipment has been purchased”. He said that a country with better surveillance always has an edge over their opponent.”
He further informed that this book captures the tales of bravery, humour, emotions, tragic losses and hard-won victories in extremely challenging high-altitude terrain of Kargil, where many believed that the mission was impossible.
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