Kargil, in hindsight


After the K. Subrahmanyam Committee report pointed to lacunae in the Indian intelligence mechanism, the Empowered Group of Ministers recommended sweeping changes. The key changes were the setting up of the multi-agency centre (MAC) and joint task force on intelligence (JTFI) in order to collect and disseminate actionable intelligence. A tri-service defence intelligence agency (DIA) was set up in a bid to synergise the intelligence sharing. Yet, nine years later, this mechanism was found wanting as the post-Kargil institutions were created but neither built or empowered. Suffice to say that the intelligence about an infiltrating Lashkar ship was not shared with Maharashtra by the JTFI or with the Western Naval Command by MAC or with the DIA by Naval Intelligence.

The leadership

Kargil has been referred to as a 45-day border skirmish between India and Pakistan. But the ferocity of the war and the encountered enemy is evident from the chain of events after Major M. Sarvanan of 1 Bihar battalion lost his life on May 29 while trying to clear Point 4268 in Yaldor sector. He was awarded Vir Chakra posthumously and Major Sonam Wangchuk of Ladakh Scouts was awarded the Mahavir Chakra on the war front on June 2 vide a wire message. Though Gen Malik gave instructions to retrieve the bodies of fallen soldiers at Pt 4268 on May 30, even the special forces could not recover the body of Sarvanan due to heavy counter fire. The fact is that Major Sarvanan's body was recovered by the Indian troops on July 7, 1999, after the intruders virtually started pulling out of Yaldor. This was three days after the famous July 4 meeting between then US President Bill Clinton and Nawaz Sharif at Blair House in Washington and the international call for troop withdrawal to Pakistan.

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