By Arun Pratap Singh
Dehradun, 13 Nov: A very interesting discussion was today led by Lt Gen PJS Pannu (Retd) who is also associated with the Valley of Words Literature and Arts Festival where living legends who had served in the Indian Army with valour participated. Every participant had an interesting story of grit, and rare valour to share. The other participants were Lt Gen Shakti Gurung, Brigadier JNS Bist, Brigadier PS Gurung and Colonel DPK Pillai. The theme was Grit, Glamour and Valour.
At the very outset, Lt Gen PJS Pannu (Retd) introduced each participant and shared with the gathering the information about rare awards each one had won. Most of the participants included those whose families had over three to four generations served in the Indian armed forces. Special applause was reserved for Brigadier PS Gurung who had participated in Operation Dondla Bana Top where he had to fight at the LOC and drive away the enemy in the year 1987 to again wrest control of the Siachen Glacier. The Pakistani aggression had been led by General Musharraf during the Benazir Bhutto regime and she had to suffer huge loss of face. Brigadier Gurung had some years ago lost his son, a lieutenant, in an operation at Tangdhar.
Lt Gen Shakti Gurung asserted the importance of defending the country. He said that a strong defence system is key to national power and influence, internationally. He also pointed out that defence capabilities had acquired a new dimension with the rapidly changing technologies. Lt Gen Shakti Gurung had led Operation Siachen Glacier in 1984, which had been retaken from Pakistani forces.
Lt Gen JNS Bist revealed how soon after his marriage he was called on duty on 72 hour notice and sent to Sri Lanka on a mission against LTTE. The unit did not have maps of Jaffna region but had to make do with its own hand drawn one. In one such operation, he did not have many men under his command but had to raid a militant hideout in daytime. Three militants were present, who were dealt with. Col Pillai also belongs to a family that has been serving the defence forces. He was involved in anti-insurgency operations in Nagaland. In one such operation, he had been hit by four bullets but had refused to be evacuated without the men he commanded. He said that, in the Indian tradition, one has to put men before oneself and the country above everything else. So he had refused to be evacuated and even managed to save lives of two young militants because in anti-insurgency operations, one had to fight with fellow Indians so they could not be treated like external enemies.
The objective of the discussion was to inspire young men to join the armed forces with their own true tales of valour and courage. A large number of NCC cadets were present during the discussion.
By Arun Pratap Singh