It was the Summer of 2000 and Captain Mohit was deployed in the Valley as a Ghatak Platoon Commander. His troops were deployed in small groups with frequent ambushes and patrols to surprise the infiltrating terrorists. Day after day, night after night, the troops tried all the variations and innovations under the guidance of their Tiger.
The nights are 36 hour long, or so it seems when you are out on an ambush. You are fighting to keep your eyelashes away from each other like Tom in a Tom and Jerry movie. One of those darker than dark nights turned out to be the lucky night for the bhullas. Vinod who was a silent soldier all his life was manning the Light Machine Gun and holding the night vision too when he spotted some movement. His trepidation grew when he realized that it was a group of nine gun totting terrorists and they were bypassing his location. He alerted the others silently which was followed by a brief exchange of fire between Vinod and the group. Premature opening of fire is one of the ‘Do Nots’ of counter insurgency, but this act of Vinod was the best possible response in such a scenario, as the events later would prove.
No further movement or sounds could be observed or heard and the next two hours were anxious moments as the group waited for the first rays of sun. Other ambush parties along the route also reported no further movement which set in a sense of despair amongst many. The search commenced at first light and one of the parties detected a blood trail leading away from the ambush site into dense maize fields. Vinod became a 🌟 immediately.
As multiple teams moved in, there was an increased frenzy of search activity in the few square kilometres around that spot. Nine was a big figure and excitement was rife in the air as search parties went around jungle bashing. The next contact with the terrorist group was established by 10 am. Maize bashing, lucky escapes and hot pursuit soon followed and towards noon the terrorist group was split into two, with a six-member group trapped in a Nala, surrounded by own troops. The other group of three were to be later eliminated by another team, after a week.
The gun battle raged and the nala became a dangerous funnel of ricocheting bullets and sharpnel. The CO’s Quick Reaction Team soon moved in to finish the operations before last light as the other parties firmed in their various cordon locations. From above the Nala, on a ledge was deployed the buddy pair of Captains Mohit and S, both course mates. Capt S was the company officer of Charlie whose company teams alongwith Ghatak platoon had painstakingly isolated the terrorists. They watched eagerly as the sub teams moved in, still praying for a chance to engage at least one terrorist.
The terrorists were firing sporadically, primarily to preserve ammunition and to extend the operations into night so that they could sneak out of the cordon in hours of darkness. Orders were given to everyone to prevent desperate escape attempts of terrorists and also to engage from own positions depending on inter visibility. The huge boulders within the Nala were aiding the terrorists in taking up concealed and covered positions.
The din of firing soon ebbed and it was clear that the terrorists were down to the last man. The last terrorist, realizing that he was down to the final belt of ammunition, made an attempt to charge at the Tiger’s QRT, with his AK 47 blazing. Of course he didn’t stand a chance with so many guns trained on him and was eliminated. As he fell backwards, his AK 47 kept firing and one of those bullets found its way onto the nose of Capt Mohit who was firing from above. He fell backwards with a bloody nose and mouth, and his buddy Capt S could just mutter on the radio set – “sir, I think he is gone!”
A charpoy was managed and the sturdy bhullas carried Mohit (who incidentally is a bhulla, or a pahadi/ Garhwali) all the way back up another hill, and another two hours to a heli landing site from where he was soon picked up and moved straight into the operation theatre in Udhampur hospital. He was unconscious and the blood was still flowing but the bullet was missing from the cranial region, which was worrisome for all. Capt M’s dad who was in the Army was informed and he was also moving towards Jammu in the fastest possible means, assuming the worst.
Just imagine…… a young officer, unconscious, bleeding from the nose and mouth and a bullet untraced somewhere in the head….moments of anxiousness for all and the task of the surgeon surely was an unenviable one.
Now comes the twist in the tale. Despite all the bleeding, Capt M seemed stable which set the doctors thinking. An X ray of the entire face and skull area was again done and voila, the bullet was found. Not where everyone was looking for, but at the base of his wisdom tooth. To know how it reached there, you have to recall the shape of a skull…the nasal cavity is a triangle and the upper portion of the triangle deflected the AK 47 bullet downward and pushed it towards the jaw bone – the jaw bone being the strongest bone in the body was not to be intimidated and sent the bullet back upwards thereby resulting in the bullet resting next to the wisdom tooth facing upwards! One can say, Capt Mohit’s fate was given a grave challenge and his combined grit (firm jaw) and wisdom (tooth) overcame the challenge.
With the bullet having been found, the mood lightened a bit and sure enough Mohit soon recuperated and was given the shining piece of metal to be kept as a talisman. The spot of entry of the bullet is still visible as a starred scar at the tip of his nose. The spot changes colours when he exerts (like running Marathons, which is his passion) and we have classified it as his G spot, in jest.
Badri Vishal Lal ki Jai
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