We Cherished Surgical Strikes, But Operation Mandhol – First Ever Raid By Para Commandos In 1971 Was Equally Impressive

If the surgical strikes carried by Para commandos of Indian Special Forces on September 29 didn’t satiate your quest for heroics of India’s Special Forces, here is another story of from 1971 war when brave commandos had carried the first raid after their formation by entering enemy territory and eliminating their artillery guns.

‘Operation Mandhol’, they call it was the first operation carried out by Paras and it wasn’t a cake walk at all. The operation carried out by 9 Para Commandos unit in Poonch sector of Jammu and Kashmir was the only classical commando raid executed by special forces in the war.

Chandigarh-based Colonel (Retd) K D Pathak was then a captain and second-in-command of the company of 120 men who had carried out the remarkable operation, which made Pakistan change its war doctrine.

Operation ‘Mandhol’ is also part of the curriculum at the Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehradun, where cadets are trained as future officers of the Army.

Recalling the night of December 13 and 14, 1971, Col Pathak, 73, said his unit was posted at ‘Nangi Tekri’ post at the height of 4,665 feet in Poonch sector and was assigned the task of destroying Pakistan’s artillery guns positioned near Mandole village, which was around 19km southwest of Poonch. Six 122mm Chinese guns of Pakistani battery were creating trouble for 93 and 120 infantry brigades of the Indian Army.

“We started around 5.30pm on December 13 with one company comprising six officers and around 120 men of 9 Para Commando unit led by Major C M Malhotra,” Col Pathak told TOI.

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Pathak further revealed that it was a cold night and they had to cross waist-deep water of Poonch river to reach Mandole.

When the Paras reached Mandhol village, they found that the village was completely deserted. But the raiding party located the enemy guns with the help of an old man. After tracing the gun positions, the party was split into six groups with each attacking one gun. After a fierce battle with the enemy, all guns were destroyed with the help of pencil-cell connected timer explosive.

During the fight, many soldiers of Pakistan army were killed while several fled. The raiding party of Indians lost two of its men while 20 were wounded.”It was also an uphill task to return to our territory with wounded soldiers and the body of a soldier. Cots, taken from villages, were improvised and turned into stretchers to carry the wounded soldiers. We reached our post at 6.30am,” Pathak recounted.

He, however, has one grouse that their feat was recognized only when the delegations of the Pakistan Army, after the ceasefire, narrated the heroic act carried out by the Indian troops at Mandhol.

“The act of the raiding team did not fetch it many gallantry awards, but for the overall operations in the Poonch sector, the Para Commandos were awarded the ‘Battle Honour’ in the 1971 war. What can be more proud for the Para Commandos that the operation carried out by them is part of the curriculum of IMA,” Pathak said.

The ‘Mandhol’ operation had so deep an impact on the Pak Army that it had to raise the second line of troops to secure their artillery guns thereby making a change in its war doctrine.

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Source:- India Times

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