27 Nov 2011

THE DRAGON STRIKES AGAIN - PART 2

D – Day & Night :
When the Earth Shook & The Bombs Fell
 The birds sensed it first. With great cacophony they took to flight in panic, flying off in all directions. The animals too sensed it and began running helter-skelter. The domestic animals, mostly buffalos, yanked themselves off their moorings and ran off with the rope trailing behind them.
 The first wave of the earth quake hit Sukhna at 0230. It measured 7.7 on the Richter scale. It lasted for around 33 seconds. The tremor was so strong that it broke the legs of the wooden bed and Lt Gen Prakash Singh fell to the ground along with the bed with a thump. He was alone, his wife was on a visit to her native place in Bihar. All electrical bulbs fused and there was complete darkness.  He was in the REM phase of deep sleep and hence awoke disorientated in complete darkness. He lay there dazed and hence when the roof collapsed, the support beam fell squarely on him and crushed his head like a broken egg.
 The walls of his house collapsed and the roof fell on Brig Sawant too. But a stroke of luck, his bed was against the wall, leading to the garden.  Though there was a huge mound of rubble over and around them, his wife and Sawant were trapped in an air pocket with a leg and arm caught below roof beams. The dust made them cough, and in the darkness they lay there not comprehending what had happened to them.
 The first shockwave lifted the concrete blocks of the runway and taxi tracks at Bhagdogra and Hashimara airfields and piled them at crazy angles. All hangars and blast pens collapsed inwards on the aircraft parked inside. The air traffic tower, as also all water tanks, simply disintegrated into rubble.  At Paro, the destruction of the runway and hangars were worse. The river adjacent to the runway changed course and it began to flow across the middle marker, washing away everything in it’s wake. All aircraft, as well as Apaches parked under the hangar, were destroyed when the hangar collapsed.
 In the first wave, just about every concrete structure in Sikkim and adjoining area of eastern part of Nepal and western part of Bhutan fell down. The roads simply disappeared.  Check dams broke and rivers changed their course.   The worst affected was Kerang, where the quake measured 8,8. The mountain slopes detached and slid down hill. It took with it everything in it’s way. In the Siliguri corridor, the shock was comparatively less, only 7.4. However, because of urbanisation and denser population, the devastation was unimaginable. The ground shook and turned everything to rubble. The death toll was incredible, the magnitude of the tragedy indescribable. It panicked the population and they began to run in all directions, especially because of the previous quake. The peasants were now convinced that the earth was going to split into two.
 Their tent collapsed on Pink and Nim and it took them a while to crawl out from under the tent, quite dazed by the strange experience. They went looking for Sen and Vaz and found them staring at their two Apaches with incredulity.  The helipad had disappeared. In it’s place there was knee deep concrete powder and steel rods sticking out. The slope towards the town had become a steep gradient. The two parked Apaches had jumped chocks and  rolled down the slope. When Pink and Nim ran to their aircraft they found it in a mind boggling ten degree nose up attitude with it’s tail sticking out over a sheer 40 feet drop. But they were amazed to see that their aircraft was absolutely undamaged. Sen was already mobilising their ground crew to push and pull the two aircraft further upslope and to prevent it from pitching tail first into the chasm that led to the engineering yard or what was left of it. Pink and Nim put their fragile hands and shoulders to task, shoulder to shoulder with the men, heaving with all their might.
  The Dragon King awoke with a start and immediately perceived the danger. He was a mountain man, used to the quaking of the earth. He grabbed the queen and rolled off the bed, to the open space between the king sized bed and an adjoining sofa set. He hugged and protected, covered the fragile queen with his own body. So when the two storied concrete building collapsed on top of them, they were cocooned within the ‘safe triangle’, with adequate air space to breathe, though there was tons of rubble over them. 
17 (I) Mtn Bde had marched up the mountains from Paro and had bivouacked ahead of Damtang towards Yadong pass in a cul-de-sac, below a scree slope with aggregate and gravel.  When the quake began, the river of pebbles, gravel and aggregate began to slide down the mountain,  gathering momentum as it went. It quickly formed into an avalanche, coming down slope faster, finally filling the cul-de-sac like a Tsunami, completely burying 17 (I) Mtn Bde without a trace.  

Brig Wongdi was an insomniac and a chronic nicotine addict. He had not been able to sleep due to the strict no smoking rules of the palace. So he had walked out into the balcony and afterwards stepped out into the garden to admire the red and white geraniums in the moonlit night. He felt the tremors under his feet build to a crescendo. He felt the sinusoidal waves lift him and drop him about ten inches at low frequency. He heard the tortured soulful grinding noises from deep within the earth. However he had no difficulty to keep standing, it reminded him of standing on a sea beach while the waves pounded and retreated, the sand sliding from under his feet. The massive hundred year old trees around him fell down but the plants hardly shook. For a few seconds he stood rooted, with his hands on his hips, till realisation dawned. He turned to look at the palace, there was very little left of it standing. ‘My God, the King and Queen are in danger’, he mumbled to himself. ‘I have to get them out to a safe place’. Sonam did not procrastinate. He was a man of action, a life time of reacting to strange situations. He ran to the gate knowing that there would be soldiers there. He had to get help to dig the king and queen out of the rubble. ‘Koi Hey ?’, he shouted in a parade ground voice.  
 A ‘Tweeter’ in Siliguri was the first to announce the catastrophe. He tweeted, ‘Moses is here, he is parting the mountains, I am off to heaven’. The meteorological office and observatory in Shillong recorded the event on their seismograph. The pen went off the trace paper several times and recorded a broad continuous line instead of the usual up and down line.  A night watch met officer in Ranchi airport issued a ‘Notam’, ‘Bad Earth Quake,  all flights to Ranchi to check air field condition prior to approaching’. The all night news channel ND TV put out a warning, ‘Earth quake somewhere in the eastern sector’.
 Out of nowhere, one more Kilo class sub joined the chase. ‘INS Periyar’ and one of it’s two Corvette escorts were torpedoed in quick succession at 0300 hrs IST. There was much violent high speed manoeuvring by the second Corvet using depth charges,. However, in a pincer movement by three Kilo class subs this Corvette too was torpedoed at 0307 IST. The three ships sank quickly with all hands on board. The Chinese dhow sent an armed  boarding party on board ‘Sagar Samrat Ashoka’.  They shut all operating personnel in the bunkhouse, set explosives on the rig with delayed fuse and left as quietly as they came. At 0400 hrs IST when Sagar Samrat Ashoka’  blew, it created a huge oil spillage. The oil caught fire with billowing smoke and was picked up easily by Mil Sat in it’s orbit high above the earth. It’s pinging for the transponder messages were not answered by any of the war ships.   Automatically an emergency message was sent by Mil Sat to warn Eastern Naval Command at Vizag that there was something drastically wrong happening in China Sea. But it would be CIA, through US embassy in Delhi, who would warn the Govt the next day that the China Sea was on fire and that there was no trace of the drill ship Sagar Samrat Ashoka. The 7th Fleet of US Navy at Manila had despatched a destroyer, as well as long range reconnaissance aircraft, to do damage assessment. No survivors were found.
 The two aftershocks, when they came at 70 and 90 minutes interval, were as bad as the original quake. Though each lasted the same time as the original one, they created more catastrophes. The civilian population in Sikkim fled in all directions. The entire 33 Corps was made redundant, barely able to move about, or take care of themselves.
 The Prime Minster was woken up by her PA and told of terrible things happening in the east, details not known. She asked for the National Security Advisor (NSA) and was told that he was admitted to the R&R Army hospital with severe Typhoid. She did not think twice. ‘Call Prakash Menon, tell him to come here immediately’.  Lt Gen Prakash Menon Rtd PVSM, AVSM, VSM, PhD,  Deputy NSA, was an absolutely upright and very youthful old soldier from the regiment of ‘Guards’. He was erudite, sagacious, soft spoken and non pretentious. The young Prime Minster had absolute confidence that the old man would know what to do.
 When his mobile rang at his bedside, Prakash was dreaming of a long winded argument for his PhD,  Nuclear Deterrence and Limited War’. No matter how hard he argued, and no matter what good sense he conveyed, his wife kept objecting, ‘No Prakash, I don’t agree’.  ‘Wake up, wake up’, she said in the real world, poking her sharp nails on his chest.  ‘Prakash wake up, the mobile is ringing, it is the PM’s residence’ she mumbled, turned around and went back to sleep.  Prakash awoke with a start, with the premonition that the country was at great peril. That the toughest battles that he had fought in Kargil, Siachen and in Sri Lanka were nothing compared to what lay ahead of him. The future of the nation lay in his hands. Fear gnawed at his entrails. But he was resolute and unhesitating. He was confident that he would do his duty, good or bad as per his judgement, but the interests of the country and his fellow citizens would come first and his selfish survival instincts would come last.  That was a life time habit. He was a soldier’s soldier, a thinking one. A greying and withered Lion, perhaps tamed and seasoned like a lamb. ‘I still have sharp teeth and claws that automatically extended when in peril’, he mused.  He trooped to the toilet in good humour.  He would not go and meet the PM without shaving.  Afterwards he dressed in a simple shirt, tie and a tweed coat. He then dug around his cupboard and pinned his miniature medals to his chest. If he was going to play an old soldier, he reasoned that he may as well be dressed for it. He also went back to the toilet and pocketed his toothbrush and razor. He knew that it would be quite a while before he came back home, if at all he could come back home.  He tip toed and left home without waking his wife, he did not like melodrama. He drove his own battered car at a moderate pace to Race Course Road, to the PM’s house, where his destiny beckoned to him.
  A massive, predawn, preventive air strike was made by PAF on all airfields in western sector, from Srinagar and Awantipur to Jaisalmer and Jamnagar.  The BAP 100s and BLU-107 Matra Durandals were dropped from 300 feet, level, lay down attacks at high speed. The retarder parachutes on them immediately arrested them in mid flight and dangled them under it. The bomb’s internal rockets fired. They broke free from their parachutes and took off vertically down. On impact they penetrated deep down into the concrete. The primary and secondary explosions tore up the concrete in a wide area and made craters on the runways and taxi tracks, putting them out of action. Though caught napping, the IAF immediately went into action repairing the craters with their Dal Express repair trains, a convoy of vehicles meant for this purpose. However, before the concrete could set, the PAF came back in a second wave, targeting hangars, blast pens, aircraft lined up in dispersal area, and the air defence radars and missiles. Though the IAF hoisted barrage balloons, the PAF was able to penetrate and strike again and again, almost unmolested. By 1000 hrs, the IAF lay injured and bleeding all over the western sector.  

At dawn, the Chinese began to do heavy artillery, long distance shelling of Nayoma sector.  In the cover of darkness they launched two pontoon bridges over the Indus and a Chinese mechanised infantry regiment crossed over at Demchok.  They over ran the ITBF post and rapidly set course for Tashigang. Within two hours, before the Indian army could react, they had over run and captured the lightly defended advanced landing ground. Two Y-9 (C130) aircraft landed immediately afterwards and discharged reinforcement to hold down the air field. The mech inf regiment moved on at high speed towards Dungti and Nayoma. Another mech infantry regiment, with a long baggage train of tracked and wheeled vehicles began to cross the river after building two more pontoon bridges further downstream towards Tashigang. 
Early morning a well balanced Sino Indian artillery duel recommenced in the general area ahead of the Bum La Pass. The Chinese also began to send occasional Dong Feng  DF-15 tactical ballistic missiles at Tawang, Zeminthang, Bomdila, Sepla and Koloriang. The Indian army responded immediately with Bhramos and Prithwi missiles at pre designated targets in Tibet. The ‘tit for tat’ war went on all day.  Towards late afternoon, a Bde sized Chinese force was spotted descending into the Sumdorong Chu valley.
 There was chaos and anarchy in Sikkim and in Siliguri corridor. The civilian population started to run away, in all directions, using any means. It started as a trickle, a few in panic. The panic spread rapidly and soon the entire mass became dynamic, cluttering and choking mobility and free passage.  The entire police force went missing. The leadership of 33 Corps lay under rubble, none to organise rescue operation. The army was in disarray, with no control of even their own men. Telephone lines, cellular as well as microwave communications became dysfunctional. The radio spectrum and satellite communications got jammed with SOS and panic calls, every one asking for help and advice on what to do. With whatever junior leadership that was available, in penny packets in the mountainous terrain, cut off from each other, the army went looking for their own men and to voluntary provide ‘aid to civil power’ when they felt they had the resources, and if there was any sensible civil power left. The civil power was the first to run.
 The Chinese predawn air strike on Chabua and Tezpur was less than successful because the two airfields were covered with early morning fog. The bombs fell ineffectively in the tea gardens around the airfields, killing many plantation labour, mostly women picking tea. The C-in-C Eastern Air Command at Shillong ordered immediate closure of all civil air traffic east of Bagdogra. Calcutta FIR was asked to re-route all international east to west flights through the Nagpur / Chennai corridor. He ordered IAF on immediate Op Alert and all ORPs to be manned. He ordered urgent tactical and photo reconnaissance to be carried out over entire Sino Indian border along Arunachal as well as Siliguri corridor by Su-30 and Mig-29 assets. As an afterthought, he said, ‘I will talk to the Chief later, but have the survey done to a 50 km depth into China. Tell the boys that I don’t want them to start a war, engagements if necessary, and only for self protection’.  Afterwards he remarked pompously to his Chief Of Staff, ‘I say, this feels like war’.   
 The Army Cdr Eastern Command commandeered a civilian Gulfstream-V business jet aircraft from a businessman friend and took off from Calcutta on a reconnaissance mission in the Siluguri corridor and over Sikkim. After a two hour flight, when he landed back at Calcutta, he was completely overwhelmed by the devastation and the magnitude of the crisis. Nothing that he had ever done before, or trained for, had any relevance to what he now had to do. He called the Army Chief immediately, on his mobile, before he got down from the Gulfstream. Without mincing words, he gave him the brief run down and the magnitude of the catastrophe.  ‘Sir, the earth quake has completely devastated Sikkim and Chicken’s neck. 33 Corps seems completely written off. I am told there was a Chinese airstrike on Air Force airfields in the east this morning. Tawang is reporting heavy arty battle. I presume that the earth quake is an unfortunate coincidence with what seems a potential engagement with the Chinese in the east.  I request permission to impose Armed Forces Special Powers Act in my area of operation, I really have no choice’.
The Army Chief responded with alacrity, ‘I am aware. There is something terrible happening on all fronts, north, east as well as the west. I am on my way to meet the DNSA and the PM. However, go ahead, this is an unprecedented national crisis. Unless I call you back, assume that you have AF SPA and do whatever is necessary, you have my full support’.
The Army Cdr Eastern Command turned to the young eager pilot, and his equally young and impressionable female co-pilot.  
‘I am acquiring this aircraft and the two of you as govt property , under the special powers act’, he said. ‘You will be under command of my staff officer here. Go where he tells you to go. Do what he tells you to do. He will arrange anything and everything for you, whatever you need’.  He then turned to his young Staff Captain ADC.
‘If you find any obstruction from any quarter, request once, order the second time under AF SPA, and if that also doesn’t work, shoot them in the head. Is that understood ?’, he stated in a mild tone but with absolute authority.
The staff captain squared his shoulder, puffed out his chest.
‘Absolutely clear, Sirrrr’, he said sombrely, with full comprehension of the situation and calamity that faced the Army Cdr.
‘Take the Gulfstream to Ranchi’, the Army Cdr ordered. ‘Go at once. Bring Gen Dhiren here to see me. I will call him and he will be at the airport when you land. Now Go, Go, Go’.
The clock went backwards by 20 yrs. The Army Cdr suddenly felt young and virile, just like when he was in command of the elite National Security Guard commando. He turned and ran towards his staff car, and Military Police escorts, standing by on the tarmac. ‘Go, Go, Go, take me to the CHQ as fast as you can’.
 By the time Prakash reached the PM’s house, the three service chiefs were already there, along with the Secretary RAW and Director IB. Immediately afterwards, several key ministers of the GOM, summoned by the PM, also arrived. They hastily assembled in the conference room where the PM huddled with her husband and two young children.
‘I say what is happening, why aren’t you guys doing your job ?’, the PM’s husband interjected pointing his finger at the three chiefs.
The three service chiefs looked at Prakash for support. Prakash simply shook his head, silent counsel. The PM’s husband, a business man, was a thoroughly spoilt, supercilious and pushy person. There was loud silence.  The quiet and affable Defence Minister coughed, retightening his ‘Dhoti’, revealing his striped underwear. The Home Minister turned his back and started to study a large MF Hussain painting on the wall. The Finance Minister, the oldest member in the group and most respected, dragged out a chair and sat down with a thump.
 The PM stood up. She was a frail woman, rather tall even in her bare feet. She was wearing a fashionable pair of below the knee black trousers that accentuated her larger than usual bare feet. She usually walked around bare feet at home. She wore a simple white Armani tank top, her hair coiled carelessly on top of her head and pinned there with a pencil.
 She stood like a colossus, silently looking down on her husband and children with her hands on her hips. There was four generation of politics and national leadership in her genes. At that moment she looked amazingly like her illustrious grandmother.
 ‘Bob, for once I want you to listen to me’, she said impassively, her voice soft and modulated, but as cold as ice. ‘Take the children and go somewhere else’, she said. ‘When I need you, I will call you. And if you interfere in matters of the Govt Of India again, I will ask the security to lock you up in Tihar’.  She waited till her husband and children left the room. She then walked to the head of the conference table, pulled out a chair and sat down.
 ‘Gentlemen, please sit down’, she said politely, the dimples on her cheeks accentuating her usually cheerful and charismatic face. ‘The country seems at peril. So tell me, what is your advice for the Prime Minister ?’
 Prakash signalled to the Air Chief to begin. The CAS was the current Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee. The CAS spoke quietly, scratching his morning stubble. He was brief and to the point, asking the army chief, as well as the RAW and IB for clarifications once in a while. The Chief of the Naval Staff sat quietly.
 The churlish and imperious Minster of Industries interjected.   ‘So what you are saying is that the bloody Pakis and the bloody Chinese have attacked India simultaneously..... and more or less at the same time there is a bloody earth quake that has paralysed the bloody army in the bloody Chicken’s neck. Next you are going to say that we are going to have the Bloody Bangaladeshi’s and the bloody Nepali’s and probably the bloody Butanese also attack us.  Is there any more calamity that you can find early this morning  ? So why didn’t you stop all of them from attacking us ?’.
‘Easy’, the Fin Minster admonished, putting a hand on the Industry Minister’s arm to restrain him.
The Home Minister was an astute man, with a clinical and legal bent of mind that had been preoccupied with terrorism from the west for several years. ‘I say’, he interjected. ‘The hostilities in the eastern sector seems mild compared to the west’, he pointed out. ‘I am not militarily wise mind you, but I think the immediate crisis seems to be in the west. I think the Chinese are only needling us simply to divert our attention and military assets from the west. We need to focus on what is to be done to stop Paki aggression’.
‘What is your reading of the situation ?’, the PM asked the Defence Minister.
‘Ayyo, I am zimbly confused’, he stated without guile.
The PM turned to the RAW and IB chiefs. ‘What about you ?’ she asked.
The Director IB shook his head and the Secretary RAW spoke on both their behalf. ‘We have had no intelligence warning. This is quite a surprise. However, we will try and give you a more meaningful brief by this evening’.
The PM turned to the Fin Minister for wise counsel. ‘It seems we have no choice but to declare war on Pakistan as well as China at the same time’, she said with profound sadness, she could guess the consequences.
Prakash cleared his throat.
‘Sorry’, the PM nodded. ‘I forgot to ask you’ she said simply.
‘Madam Prime Minister’, Prakash cleared his throat again. ‘The first thing that we need to do immediately is for the GOM and yourself to shift to the bomb shelter. I have already sent word to clean up and establish adequate communication link there. Do not go public yet. We have yet to do a complete damage assessment and establish motives or intensions. There is nothing to be gained from declaring war immediately. There is no hurry, at least not now, may be later this afternoon. Give each one of us time to evaluate, plan and think this over so that we can give you meaningful advice. The Air Force and the Army are already doing defensive actions.  Mobilise the National Disaster Management Teams to Sikkim like we did last time.  I am glad that the parliament is not in session. The IB to send out teams immediately, collect and bring all MPs that they can find to their bomb shelter. As quickly as possible we need to shift the Govt Of India to a safe place, after that we decide what best to be done to defend the country’.
‘I agree with him completely’, said the Fin Minister, looking around, brooking no arguments.   
‘Very well’, said the PM. ‘I adjourn the Govt till four O’clock this evening. When we meet again, I would like to see a firm plan of action from each one of you in your own area of responsibility’. She pushed her chair back and got up to leave.
‘Madam’, Prakash interrupted. ‘Should I make arrangement for your husband and children ?’.
The PM stood on one leg, her head cocked, hip thrust sideways. She thought for half a minute. ‘No’, she said eventually. ‘The children and citizens of this country are the first priority of a Prime Minister. Personally, I do not wish to go and hide in a bomb shelter when the country is exposed. However, I understand the need for the Govt to go into hiding. At this moment my husband and children will be treated like all citizens. The Govt has to find a way to protect all of them’. She walked out without much ado to her private quarters.
 ‘Momy has to go away for a few days’, she told her two children hugging them to her chest. ‘Dad will take care of you’, she said. ‘Be good, God be with you’.
 Immediately afterwards, as India was beginning to prepare for another routine working day, the PM was whisked away by her security staff in an unmarked armoured CRV with tinted glass  to the Nuclear shelter for the Govt Of India with restricted access only for her cabinet colleagues and the top echelon of the Govt Of India. The other dignitary who was brought in a similar manner to the same shelter was the Vice President, now officiating as the President.  Later in the day the Speaker and Members of Parliament were taken one by one to a similar shelter at another location.     
 The Govt Of India did not declare war, at least not on the first day. It caught the rest of the word by surprise. A resolution was tabled in UN Security Council by the representative of the Republic of Gabon (Africa) urging Pakistan, China and India to resolve their border crisis peacefully and to prevent inadvertent or purposeful use of nuclear weapons. Both members from China and India abstained from voting, akin to a ‘vito’ of the resolution.

To be continued ...........
CYCLIC

24 Nov 2011

THE DRAGON STRIKES AGAIN : PART - i

Forward:
 In 1962, India suffered an inconsolable and humiliating military defeat in a war with China.

That war resulted from lack of a mutually acknowledged, geopolitically well demarcated and defensible international border, especially in the cold Himalayan waste land of Aksai Chin ahead of Leh, similar protectorate Kingdom of Sikkim, and around erstwhile godforsaken NEFA. Though Sikkim merged with India in 1975 and NEFA became Arunachal Pradesh in 1986, the state of affairs of an ill defined and indefensible border continue to be similar even today.

For India, the strategic interest in possessing and protecting such desolate Himalayan wasteland, in the north and the east, where man and beast can barely survive, is simply because it is the gateway to the green ‘Shangri-La’ that lie on the Indian side and which the Chinese covet. China is a vast country with enough land, much more than all of India. So, sensibly, they should have no use for more waste land. Yet they squirm and squeamish over the Sino Indian border. Therein lie the unfathomable lacunae of ‘Libenstrom’, or the very human desire for living space and economic resources. For long term survival and posterity of the southern side of Tibet, as well as the highly industrialised Sichuan and Yunan provinces, commercially and technically viable access to the sea, and the oil and gas assets in Assam, Bangladesh and Burma are perennially essential for China, whether India likes it or not. And it is in India’s political and economic interest to not only have a stranglehold monopoly over the SARC region, but also go prospecting for oil in China Sea and at Kamchatka peninsula, whether China likes it or not. The two regional nuclear capable giants not only have wide chasms of linguistic, cultural and ethnic differences but also differences in geopolitical aspirations. Notwithstanding the current state of economic inertia and superficial political bonhomie, it will take only a spark to set them off at each other’s throat. Beware, and be aware.

During it’s five decades long march to the world’s centre stage, to give it credit, China has been preoccupied and remarkably restrained in it’s military and foreign policy postures towards India and hence there has been comparative peace since 1962 despite aggressive political and military forward posturing by India. Mind you, there were several incidents that almost set off a second Sino-Indian war, especially ‘Op Chequorboard’ in 1986. The Sino Indian military posturing have a bit of silly history.

 In 1903 alarmed by the Chinese and Russian influence in Tibet, Col Francis Younghusband led a military expedition to subdue Thubten Gyatso, the 13th Dalai Lama (predecessor of the current one Tenzin Gyatso ). Thubten ran off to China and took asylum there. It took quite a while for the British to tame Tibet and in 1914 Henry McMahon the British foreign secretary managed to get Thubten’s envoy into Shimla and sign a free trade agreement. As part of the agreement, a treaty was signed demarcating the southern boundary of Tibet. Since the Himalayas were comparatively unchartered, unmapped and unhappy territory, McMahon did the only thing that was practical and pragmatic. He took a pencil and drew simple line on a map, connecting all the highest peaks, the water shed, the northern slopes of which were to be in Tibet and the southern ones in British India.

Even at that time, this line, the watershed, was neither acceptable to man, beast, 13th Dalai Lama, nor Col Younghusband as a practical, defensible, geopolitical border. However, at that time, this was not considered strategically or militarily important, or an issue, considering the greater cause and benefits to one sided, parochial, British interest in trade and commerce. It became an issue only in 1950-51 when China occupied Tibet and the 14th (Current) Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso ran off and took political asylum in a newly independent India. It became necessary for the politically naive, new, Govt Of India to have a militarily defensible border, especially keeping in mind India’s then foreign policy of abetment of Tibetan aspirations, though all that has now changed.
The 1962 war was triggered by Indian army incursion at Namka Chu, an east-west stream which separates the Thag La and the Hathung La ridge, and at Se La pass, north of Tawang that had earlier been a no man’s land, south of the water shed (Mc Mohan line). As a result of the total humiliating defeat, it remained a no man’s land till 1983, when operatives of the Special Intelligence Bureau (SIB) and contingents from Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) were once again reintroduced in penny packets, into the pasturage of Sumdorong Chu, north-east of Namka Chu and Nyamjiang Chu, the same hot spots of 1962. By 1986 their numbers grew large enough to alarm China and hence the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) sent in their own equally large contingents in an eye ball to eye ball confrontation. There was inevitable friction between border patrols resulting in exchange of intense fire.

In 1986 India had a young, dynamic and politically strong PM (Rajiv Gandhi) as also a very astute, capable and aggressive Chief Of Army Staff (Gen Sunderji). India at that time also had a reactive and protective armor, the Indo-Soviet, mutual protection, defence pact. There was no political or foreign office procrastination. Using large Mi-26 and Mi-8 helicopters the army immediately landed mountain brigades at  Zimithang, south of Hathung La. These well led forces, bristling with weapons and a new found confidence, occupied the forward positions from Hathung La, across the Namka Chu all the way to Thag La, Sulu La, Bum La, etc. The Chinese responded with alacrity and moved up an incredible army, eye ball contact, just the way they had done in 1962. In retaliation, the Soviet military moved into eye ball confrontation along the Kazakhstan border with nuclear weapons. The world immediately expressed great concern, the US intervened. The war was averted. Phew......that was a close call, pretty bad situation.

It may happen again, it will happen, that is my conviction.                

The following story is fiction, except the Sikkim earth quake of 18 Sep 11 and few characters who are real. I apologise for the unjust liberty that I have taken to distort science, events and use some names, because without this, such a story of a potential war with China could not be told. I wrote this story because I believe that such a story must be told, it is almost real.  This is a story of a war that I believe every Indian soldier must mentally and physically prepare, and train to fight, to not only avenge the shame of 1962 defeat but also protect the long-term strategic interests and geopolitical border. For God sake, I hope we will not be called to fight this war, but mark my words, it is ordained, it is inevitable.

As the Sage said, ‘Sambhawami, Yuge Yuge’, it will happen again and again..
 CYCLIC

Prolouge  : D Day  Minus Twenty Four Months
 Monday, 18 Sep 2011, CNN IBN, New Delhi:  A severe earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter Scale rocked Sikkim at 1810 hrs on Sunday resulting in untold number of deaths and unfathomable destruction. The epicentre of the quake was 64 km north of Gangtok in Sikkim. It caused major devastation of everything standing up in that area of Mangan in North Sikkim, the epicentre. The main earth quake was followed by three aftershocks, at thirty minute interval. The aftershocks  of magnitude 5.7, 5.1 and 4.6 were equally frightening and devastating. Thank God Sikkim is sparsely populated, similar catastrophe in an urban centre anywhere in India is unthinkable.
The incredible destruction was not only in Sikkim, but was also in adjacent Nepal and parts of Bhutan. It was even felt in Siliguri Corridor, Nalanda and Darbhanga districts of Bihar, where many people died in stampedes following the tremors. Strangely even Army personnel were killed in the earthquake and their efficacy and mobility brought to a halt. The Indian army, called in for ‘aid to civil power’, deployed immediately. Trudging up the mountain on foot to remote areas, the army reported that almost all roads in Sikkim had been made totally unusable by landslides and broad fissures, all bridges and culverts had collapsed. At places the road as well as manmade structures simply disappeared. Dams burst and there was severe inundation downstream, adding to the chaos. The Centre rushed teams of the ‘National Disaster Response Forces’. However, they were hampered by the devastation and were unable to reach remote areas to be of any sensible help. The Indian army was the only organised force left to bring succour to this hapless area.  

Speaking to CNN-IBN, the DGP of Sikkim said that the law and order situation had been brought under control by the army by using road blocks, mainly to stop the fleeing population. He said that Sikkim Chief Minister ‘Pawan Chamling’ has called for an emergency meeting. Arvind Kumar, Principal Resident Commissioner of Sikkim, said that there was excessive damage in the northern parts of Sikkim, estimated loss and cost of reconstruction of the state amounting to almost Rs One Lakh Crores. As of the moment Gangtok and Darjeeling are completely cut off due to extensive damage to the National Highway. 

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spoke to the Sikkim Chief Minister and offered all help. The Prime Minister also directed Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth to call for an emergency meeting of the cabinet. The Indian Air Force has been tasked with a herculean airlift operations from west to east with supplies, medication and personnel. The airfields at Gorakhpur, Bhagdogra and Hashimara have been put out of action. Most of the major helipads in Sikkim are also out of action. Therefore the AF, like the army, are working with their hands tied behind their backs. 

The Dragon Strikes Again  -  Part : I

In Space:  D Day -30

Eight hundred forty five km above the earth, in complete darkness, the experimental remote sensing ‘Mil Sat’ entered it’s ‘perigee’, the elliptical orbit closest to earth. It started to ‘ping’ the ISRO telemetry tracking station at Mauritius for course correction. The computer controlled tracking station automatically and instantly interfaced with similar ISRO tracking stations at Bears Lake (Russia), Brunei and Biak (Indonesia). The master computer at Bangalore took feeds from the tracking stations to analyse the previous orbit and passed on the course corrections to Mil Sat in low frequency digitally encrypted jabs. ‘Tap, tap tap’, went the narrow band messages, in endless streams. Speeding at four point two km a second, the satellite sped on in the night, over the oceans, in a bleak and airless atmosphere that was seventy three degrees below freezing. It did not take long for the satellite to go around the perigee, and swing into the wider elliptical orbit which took it away from the earth towards it’s ‘apogee’ at thirty eight thousand km above the earth.  On it’s way,  at an axis inclined at around 650 to the earth’s true north, it passed over Goa, heading for Beijing and onwards north of Japan. Somewhere abeam ‘Chandipur At Sea’  Mil Sat automatically switched on it’s onboard Hasselblad special cameras and began to beam high pixel pictures of what it was seeing with a two point five metre resolution. The huge dish antennas at the Master Control Facility at ‘Hassan’ began to receive them immediately and store the digital images on to their computers.

On the left outer fringes of it’s broad peripheral vision, the Hasselblad soon picked up Chumbi Valley, between Sikkim and Bhutan. It faithfully began to transmit the Chinese troop concentrations north of ‘Duinaxiang’, on the fair-weather road to Lhasa. Two Chinese Divisions were forming up, gradually moving the troops, stores, weapons, their 105 mm field guns, extraordinarily large compliment of mules, all of them southwards. All these troops, animals and military stores were distributed along the mountain terrain in penny packets, under camouflage, hoping to keep them away from prying eyes in the sky. But the Hasselblad worked in the IR band. The thermal imaging devices worked like an evil eye and picked the heat to lay bare the images, they could even see under the camouflage and the underground bunkers.

The Mil Sat sped on relentlessly, unhindered, and quickly leaped past Burma into China,  silently photographing the tumultuous activities below. As it went past Vietnam, it caught the South China Sea in it’s right peripheral vision.  Around ten thousand kilometres below, it clearly picked out ONGC’s ‘Sagar Samrat Ashoka’ the oil rig that was doing deep sea exploration in the China Sea. The Mil Sat ‘pinged’ on it’s integral digitally coded  ‘Mer Sat’ transponder and received automatic signals from the battle ship  ‘INS Periyar’ with it’s two Corvette escorts, doing aimless patrolling around Sagar Samrat Ashoka and it’s support logistic vessels. However, the incredibly complex electronic eavesdropping equipment onboard the Mil Sat did not pick out the two Kilo class Chinese submarines that were trailing and shadowing the Indian Navy vessels in the China sea, right in their back yard.

It would be another three to four weeks before Master Control Facility at ‘Hassan’ processed the digital data and copied it to the photo interpreters at NRSA Hyderbad, NTRO analysts and the Int Branch photo interpreters at Air HQ. The impending war clouds would go tragically unnoticed.  The warning would come too late, that the Dragon was about to strike once again.

Demchok , Nyoma Sector : D -25
Ahead of Leh one road goes north, over the formidable Khardungla pass, to Thoise and to Siachen where the army sits eye ball to eye ball with the Pakis. The other road from Leh goes south easterly to Chushul and further onwards to Grandpa Gompa and Dungti. From Dungti, the road follows the fast flowing and meandering Indus river, further south east, into Nyoma sector all the way to Demchok.  Although the official map of India shows Tibet and China a good five to ten km north east of the river, it was pragmatic and practical for the Indian army to stop short at the river and say Demchok is India’s lands end, at least to keep the Chinese happy. Usually there are just few troops at Demchok, on either side of the river, either Indian or Chinese. If India ever intended to take Aksai Chin back, this is where they would need to fight the Chinese, at Demchok. And if China decided to needle India from time to time, either politically or militarily, this is where they usually inserted the pins and needles, at Demchok.
D-25, a fine summer morning, two PLA MI-17 helicopters came from nowhere and landed on the Indian side of the river at Demchok. While an ITBP company looked on unfazed from their bunkers far up on the hill side, the helicopters discharged about thirty odd PLA troops who went about as if they were on a picnic. They dismantled a few Indian ‘Sangers’ near the river, painted a few stones red, and after loitering for about twenty minutes, got into their helicopters and went back into Tibet, probably as a warning to India to stop development of an advanced landing ground at Nayoma (Tashigang), about 25 km further up the road north, towards Dungti. Not to be outdone, the ITBP was given permission that evening to fire 50 rounds of two inch mortar, rather friendly post Diwali celebrations across the river at the Chinese post.

For next few days the Indian media went hammer and tongs declaring a war on China while the MEA and the Army HQ went into a tizzy fire fighting the press. ‘Oh it was nothing’, several PROs from the MEA and the Army. ‘We are on good wicket with the Chinese, nothing to worry’. There was no press release from China and if there was something, it never got the attention of the Indian press. The PLA fumed in silence, the Dragon was just beginning to awaken.

Ranchi : D -22

Capt ‘Pink’ Chopra was furious that her flight commander was being unfair. With utter disdain and anger, she tucked her Apache so close to the leader that her rotor tip almost scraped his tail rotor. No matter what Maj Sen did, she stayed right there, in position, not an inch farther or closer. Maj Sen tried everything in the book, hit the deck and followed the river with his undercarriage touching the water, he took her under the pylons of the 33kVA HT cables, turned her round and round trees with his rotor tips almost scraping the ground. But Capt Chopra was formidable, she just stuck to him like a leach, going from port to starboard when Sen turned, always in echelon, avoiding the obstructions, but never leaving his tail.  Maj Sen had to grudgingly admit that Capt Chopra was one of the best pilots in the newly formed Army Ground Attack Squadron. She was not only a damn good Army Aviation pilot, but she had the best air to ground gunnery record, the 30 mm nose gun, rockets as well as the Hellfire missiles, she could hit anything that walked or crawled with more accuracy than the entire bloody army. He called off the charade, and took the two aircraft Apache formation back to base.

Capt Chopra’s crew, in the front cockpit was another manmade disaster, just like herself. Capt Nim was a wiry girl whose original name before she joined the army was ‘Nirmala’. She was an electronics engineer and a state level basket ball player. As Nirmala learnt to fly and to operate weapons systems in the front cockpit of the Apache, she metamorphosed into Capt Nim, as tough as a coconut. By the time they landed, Pink and Nim were absolutely exhausted.  Their overalls were drenched with sweat, each had had lost three to four kgs of body weight from forty five minutes of high adrenalin, high speed, low altitude chase.  Their heartbeat during the sortie was almost two had a half times their normal.

“You OK Nim ?’, Pink called over the intercom after she switched off the HP cocks that stalled the engines and pulled on the rotor brakes.

‘Top of the world Pink, let us see how the buggers will stop us going on the Gangtok detachment’, Nim retorted from the front cockpit while shutting down the electronics and weapon system controls in front of her. There was something wrong with the ‘Laser Designator’ pod, she would have to help the ground crew to attend to that, she sighed. Nim felt on top of the world. It felt good to thumb her nose at the male chauvinistic world of military flying. She knew that ‘Pink & Nim’ were the best Attack Helicopter team in the army.  That felt very good.

They unstrapped and got out, doing the customary walk around their Apache. As was their custom, they stood on either side of the tail and kicked the tail wheel in unison, giggling.  In unison they took off their helmets, shook their hair free, and with their helmets tucked under their arm, they marched to the crew room, their hips swinging in feminine fashion. They knew that all eyes in the dispersal would be on them. There was nothing non military about them, except the hip swing, and that was God’s gift to mankind, nothing that the army could take out of them.

Over a cup of tea Maj Sen debriefed them. With new found wisdom, and respect, he decided that the best way to treat this formidable pair was to treat them like men. So he gave it to them, a compliment where it was due, and nasty professional critique about where they had not performed well. In the end he gave them a warning, ‘I don’t want the two of you to be over confident, it simply kills. Show me some subservience, and not your bloody snooty attitude’.
‘Sir, do you think we are fit for the Gangtok mission ?’, Nim couldn’t hold back her curiosity.
‘Now I don’t want you two to get uppity and get over smart’, Sen admonished them. ‘I will talk to the CO’. He however couldn’t help smiling.  ‘Pink & Nim’ pair was irresistible, in or out of the cockpit.

Sukhna D-21

The Corps Commander of XXXIII Corps, Lt Gen Prakash Singh PVSM, AVSM, SM was a punctual man. He walked into the Monday morning nine O’clock briefing as usual, along with his BGS Brig PV Sawant AVSM, SM.  His entire general staff was present and one by one they would quickly brief him on the developments in the corps sector over the weekend. 33 corps sector, and Prakash’s area of responsibility covered Sikkim and Bhutan, as well as the narrow ‘Siliguri Corridor’ or ‘Chicken’s Neck’ that connected the seven Eastern States with West Bengal. He also oversaw the border with Bangladesh. In his opinion, and in the strategic perspective of the army, there was no corps that was as important as the XXXIII corps, specially because of the sensitive demographic and geographical fragility of Chicken’s Neck. On this particular day, he was more amused with an Eastern Air Command exercise in his sector.
‘So what is EAC proposing to do, bomb the shit out of us ?’, he cornered the TAC Cdr, Gp Capt Roy, who was trying to hide in the back row because he had been late for the briefing and had tiptoed in after the Corps Cdr arrived.
‘Sir, I have a brief for you, I think I am slated for it last, after everyone else’, he quipped from the back.
‘No, No my friend, there is nothing more important that I want to hear than what the Air Force is proposing to do in my sector’, Prakash Singh laughed aloud slapping his thighs. When the Corps Cdr laughed, the corps’s 'General Staff' laughed with him. Roy was peeved. However, he went to the rostrum, quickly manipulated the power point computer slides, and did his routine.

‘Sir, EAC has asked for, and has been given some ground attack assets, two detachments of Jags have been sent from north by Western Air Command to deploy into Hashimara and Bhagdogra and they would basically be doing training flying in the valley for next two weeks’, Roy tried to conclude without too much ado. He knew that the Corps Cdr was a stickler for the ‘max two minute each’ routine brief from the general staff.

‘Roy, what happened to the choppers that were under my command ?’. The Corps Cdr was referring to the three MI17s and four Cheetah helicopters that had been sent to Sikkim by the IAF for the ‘Sambhavna Exercise’, rebuilding of Sikkim after the massive earth quake destruction.

‘Sir, keeping in mind the fighter deployments, the choppers have been sent home, and I think they have done their job well Sir’, Roy tried to tactfully placate, he knew what was coming. ‘The situation is almost under control’, he added unnecessarily.  He did not want to offend the Corps Cdr by pointing out to him that the AF did not actually deploy the helicopters under his command and that the AF was simply assisting him in Ex Sambhavna.                           

The three star general stopped smiling, he turned furious. And when the Corps Cdr became furious, the knees of the general staff usually shook.
‘Roy, I would like you to convey my displeasure to your C In C’, Lt Gen Prakash Singh said in a voice that was crusted with ice. ‘The air support is not to be withdrawn without consulting with me. I called them in, so I will tell them to go when I think they have done enough’, he stated with the self proclaimed authority of Julius Cesar. He was so angry that he got up suddenly and left the briefing.

So the GSO (Int) did not get a chance to brief the Corps Cdr about the strange SFF and 22 Force sightings and reports from Lahsa, corroborated by evidence of military deployments that were picked up by the routine high level spotting sorties by the UAV drones. The Corps Cdr was oblivious to the fact that the Dragon had awakened and was on the move. The BGS guessed right. But for some strange reason he did not think it was important or significant enough to tell the Corps Cdr. Due to the over bearing nature of the Corps Cdr, he took bad news to heart and often got after the harbinger of such bad news. The BGS did not wish to jeopardise his impending promotion to a two star General, he himself preferred quick fix and easy way out.

Duinaxiang (Chumbi Valley China) :  D-20

Fifty eight year old Shang Xiao (Colonel) Danny Liu awoke with a head ache. Prolonged exposure to high altitude had given him a permanent migraine. He often slept with his boots on. This morning, half awake, he searched under his pillow for the small aluminium canister with his SOS pills. With trembling hands he shook out two tiny migraine pills and swallowed them, taking a swig of dirty brackish water in a bottle under his army issue camp cot. Danny knew that he had to force himself to sleep for another hour before the pills took effect. He slid back under his duck feather quilt, pulled his pillow over his head to blot out the brilliant sunlight and went back to sleep.
The PLA ‘Special Engineer Camp’ was located about twenty km west of Duinaxiang, north of Chumbi Valley, the Chinese held salient that sticks out like a dagger between Sikkim and Bhutan, about fifty km north west of Paro in Bhutan. The camp looked like any oil and gas exploratory drilling station,  with the usual vertical drilling rig, with it’s compliment of fifty odd huge porta cabins on self propelled tracked vehicles, huge diesel driven Caterpillar generators, BOPs, X Mas Trees through which glycol solution was pumped in at high pressure to soften the mud, concrete mixing dollop vehicles, pumps and pipelines that drew water from the nearby river, huge 100 kilo ltr plastic collapsible water tanks and the cook house that catered to the hundred odd personnel living in fifty odd arctic tents clustered around the camp.  There were a hundred odd personnel, dressed like pioneers, with no military uniform, ranks, markings or trappings that identified them as PLA. Nearly all of them, from the Corps of Special Engineers were under the command of Shao Xiao (Major) Zhu Xiaoyan, a formidable engineer and stickler for discipline. His ways of enforcing discipline was simple. He just took out the perpetuators of indiscipline for a drive and shot them in the head and immediately asked for a replacement. 
Technically Zhu did not report to Danny or any of his six young technical assistants. They were not really army types, they were more like weird college students. Zhu was barely civil to Danny though he was junior in rank. Zhu just took technical advice from Danny, simply what was to be done, not how it was to be done.  Currently he was trying to replicate a 100 inclined tunnel that they had dug thirty months earlier, about ten km further west. The tunnel was ‘V’ shaped, each arm of the V around 3000 mtrs long, but only around 10-12 inches diameter. The bottom apex of the ‘V’ was at a depth of 1000 mtrs, around 24” in dia. Last time there was only one ‘V’. But this time Danny had desired two of them, four tunnels leading out from the same apex, two “V’s” joined at the apex. Last time the V was pointing south west, but this time it was pointing south, with a wider arc of the V. The inclined drilling was most difficult and taxed his engineering initiative, skill and imagination, especially due to the rocky nature of the terrain. The terrain had been chosen with utmost care by Danny after repeated geological survey and echo soundings, looking for  inclined rock strata, just the way he wanted it to be, but making Zhu’s life most difficult. Every once in a while Danny asked Zhu to  stop drilling , to withdraw the drill shafts out of the ground, so that he could insert his silly ‘Pig’.  The ‘Pig’ was a mtr long self propelled cylindrical object full of electronic gear that was controlled from one of the instrumentation lab trucks. When inserted into the tunnel, the Pig travelled down the tunnel and relayed information on it’s internal condition, it’s length and declination, geological data, humidity and  temperature, senseless things like that. That is what Zhu thought. ‘Bloody silly fellows,  all this for planting a silly nuclear mine’.  

Shang Xiao Danny Liu was the head of ‘Project K-12’, in the ultra secret ‘Institute 401’ of the Chinese Research Institute of Atomic Energy Sciences at Tuoli, the ‘Nuclear Town’ 35 km south of Beijing. Project K-12, on which Danny had been secretly working on for three decades was a ‘sub miniature, low yield tactical nuclear device’ which, when used in subterranean conditions, could create controlled earth quakes. The theoretical perceptions that he had worked on for three decades had just been proved right, he had recently made the earth quake in Sikkim, in the direction and magnitude that he wanted to. His percept required mountainous terrain, preferably unstable  mountains like the Himalayas where the tectonic plates were inclined and still shifting, which could deflect the shockwaves from a subterranean thermo nuclear implosion, much like a ‘shaped charge’.  In the earlier experiment he had placed the three 6-8 kT devices at the apex of a ‘V’  shaped inclined tunnel, around 1000 mtrs deep, the mouth of the ‘V’ facing the direction in which the earth quake was to be sent, to wards Sikkim and Nepal. The process was absolutely predictable and safe, especially if the earth quake was to be sent down hill,  he was confident and was proved right. The three nuclear mines that he had exploded, at thirty minutes intervals, twenty four months earlier, had produced earth quake and aftershocks in Sikkim, just as he had predicted.  Now he wanted to repeat the same, aimed at Sikkim and Bhutan.

He had successfully demonstrated that in mountainous terrain, an army such as the Indian XXXIII Corps could easily be paralysed or diverted to a massive earth quake relief operation leaving the territory defenceless. If such an exercise could be repeated, with a marginally larger 15-20 kT device, with double sandwiched wider V shaped deflection tunnels, he had predicted that the entire area of Sikkim, Bhutan, Chicken’s Neck, right up to the northern territory of Bangladesh would lose all roads and rail, lines of communication, create massive landslides, destroy all bunkers or prepared defences, destroy communication towers, water tanks, dams, destroy airfields and helipads,  panic the highly dense population in the Chicken’s neck to flee in all directions completely blocking any attempt to reinforce a defending army that was made helpless and useless. In such a condition, it was possible for a small PLA task force to walk into Chicken’s neck and severe the entire eastern India and eventually take it over. The controlled earth quake would leave no one wiser, no one would suspect that it was nothing but a freak natural phenomena. Danny could do it at any place of his choosing and at any time that was convenient. This he intended to do it soon, on a day that Beijing was to confirm.

The loud vibration and clatter of a helicopter woke Danny. He quickly poured water on his face and rushed to the makeshift helipad to meet the ‘Dauphin’ that had brought him his toy all the way from Tuoli, ferrying across China in 700 km hops. After unloading the stainless steel sealed cylindrical container, the helicopter took off immediately and disappeared. Danny did not open the container, he knew what was inside. He had packed the container himself. The tunnels would take another ten odd days to complete. He would then install the device at the bottom of the apex and seal it off with liquid cement. The cement would take two or three days to set and cure. He now had very little time to procrastinate. He had to detonate on D-Day, set by Beijing for unleashing the operation, ‘Angry Budha’.

London : D-19

The third secretary (political) of the Chinese embassy in UK sought a discreet audience with the reticent and recluse fifty seven year old dispossessed King of Sikkim, Chogyal Wangchuk Tenzing Namgyal.  They met at the low profile, low budget Cranleigh Hotel’ overlooking Ealing Common. The Chinese official kept the King waiting for an hour, though there were agents from Chinese external intelligence keeping a vigil at the door to ensure that the King did not run off.
‘Your Highness, Your Excellency, I trust you don’t mind the surroundings ?’, the Chinese enquired politely, without offering to shake hands.
‘Ah......’, the King remarked remorsefully,  in clipped British tone. ‘Did you know that I went to school hereabouts, at Harrow ?’.  He noticed that the Chinese envoy was tall and well built, the military type.  
‘Frankly your highness, we did not want the Indians getting wind of this meeting and this is a discreet hotel that we use some times for this sort of meeting’.
‘So what did you want to meet me for ?’, the King was anxious to know. Ever since he had put in for a 15 mill pound sterling claim on Vajpayee Govt, a decade earlier, as the price of his kingdom that was acquired by the Govt Of India, he had been ostracized by the entire diplomatic community, even the Indians.  He was a pauper, a King without clothes, kingdom or even subjects.
‘We have a proposal for you’, the Chinese envoy stated abruptly sensing the King’s despondency.
‘What........, are you going to offer me the 15 mill pounds sterling that the Indians refused ?’, the King asked sarcastically.
‘No Sir, I am going to offer your kingdom back to you, that is if you want it’, the envoy said with a condescending smile. ‘Let me tell you how’.

For the next hour the envoy talked without a pause and the King listened in rapt attention.
‘Your royal highness will appreciate that we cannot allow this matter to reach the Indians. Hence, we are going to put you under our surveillance 24 x 7, partly for our security and partly for yours’, he concluded. He did not ask whether the Chogyal agreed. The Chogyal had no choice.

Nathu La Pass: D-18

A meeting was called by the PLA to review and discuss the bilateral trade agreement between the Govt Of India and the People’s Republic Of China. The BGS XXXIII Corps attended along with the Deputy Commissioner of Gangtok, with their respective entourage. It was customary for these meetings to be attended by at least twenty officials from each side, mostly irrelevant personnel who were simply there to complete the quorum.

The Chinese represented that the bilateral trade as per their opinion was lope sided with India exporting 26 type of goods worth around Rs 1225 Cr annually, while they were in turn being restricted to low grade goods in fifteen categories, that fetched them less than Rs 100 Cr annually.  The Chinese requested parity in goods and trade volume. They also sought free transit facilities to export agricultural implements, cycles, dry fruits, and milk powder to Bangladesh through Nathu La pass. In addition, they also requested that the Govt Of India follow up with a similar bilateral trade agreement and creation of a pontoon bridge across the Indus at Demchok , Nyoma Sector in Kashmir.

The meeting concluded after much fan fare and promise of economic cooperation and military bonhomie all along the line of control between India and Republic Of China. The BGS XXXIII Corps stated that he would pass on the special requests to appropriate authority in the Govt Of India and that he hoped to see it implemented quickly.

The BGS had an inkling that the Chinese were hedging, they wanted something else and despite worrying over it, he could not fathom what the Chinese were really up to what they wanted.

Paro : D-17

The Chief of Army Staff, Indian Army, and his wife, were ceremoniously received at Paro airport by the  ‘Chief Operations Officer’, the senior most officer of the Royal Bhutan Army.  Later that afternoon,  the fifth Dragon King,  Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck and his newlywed Queen Jetsun Pema hosted a private lunch for the visiting dignitaries at their Thimphu palace. During the next two days, in his capacity as the supreme commander of the Royal Bhutanese army, the King and the COAS met several times at the Ha Dzong complex that housed the army HQ, to discuss the many strategic issues that concerned the gross happiness quotient of Bhutan.

The King was particularly appreciative of the massive relief operations undertaken by XXXIII Corps during the unprecedented earth quake catastrophe that had brought life to a standstill in Sikkim in recent past. He was keen that the XXXIII Corps formulate a contingency plan for such a future eventuality in Bhutan. The COAS asked his highness for permission to operate limited cooperation exercises between Royal Bhutanese army and police units and Indian army units within Bhutan, so that there was greater mutual understanding and cooperation between all for meeting the eventualities in future. The King approved of the suggestion immediately, provided the exercises were for limited duration not exceeding four weeks. It was to be limited to Brigade level troop deployment. The COAS indicated that the newly raised Strike Corps at Ranchi had such an exercise in mind and were prepared to deploy the troops into Bhutan within two weeks, if the King would kindly allow this.  The Dragon King specially asked that the BGS of the strike corps be attached to the Ha Dzong complex to supervise. What he did not say, but what the COAS knew, was that the BGS was a course mate and special friend of the King from their days at the National Defence College at Delhi !!!!.   

China Sea : D-17

The diplomatic initiatives and the demarches issued by the Chinese Govt were not taken too  seriously by the Govt Of India beyond a few statements to the press that ONGC Videsh had obtained special sanctions from the Govt of Vietnam to carry out exploratory oil & gas activity in the China Sea. Chinese complaint that China Sea was a disputed area between China and Vietnam and that the Indian foray into Chinese territorial waters was objectionable and unacceptable to China fell on deaf ears in Delhi. Sagar Samrat Ashoka continued to drill furiously to unimaginable depths with the zealous excitement that they had almost hit oil bearing veins that indicated great promise.

INS Periyar with it’s two Corvette escorts continued their patrolling activities, still unaware of the two Chinese submarines that trailed them at some considerable distance. However, INS Periyar spotted and reported back to FOC-in-C Eastern Fleet at Vizag that they were now being shadowed by what looked like a large unarmed Chinese Dhow. From time to time the Dhow appeared and disappeared like an Albatross. The Indian Navy correctly assumed that it was an electronic surveillance ship sent to keep track of their flotilla.

Mountain Strike Corps, Ranchi:  D-16

Lt Gen  Dhiren Sharma PVSM, AVSM, VrC, SM , the Corps Cdr of the Mountain Strike Corps at Ranchi was issued an Op Order by Army HQ to mobilise forthwith their Independent Mountain Brigade to Bhutan for training purposes, deployment to  be completed within two weeks. Since it was to be a peace time exercise, no live ammo was to be carried, dumped forward, or used during the exercise. They were also asked to leave behind all their animal assets (mules) since the peace time exercise did not warrant the logistic nightmare of moving the mules. XXXIII Corps was instructed to write the ‘Whites’ and take overall command and control as well as act as overall coordinator for the duration of the exercise. 

Army HQ also instructed that the BGS Brig Sonam Wongdi VrC, SM (bar) to be attached to the Kingdom of Bhutan for liaison, for the duration of the exercise.

 Since the Apache Ground Attack Squadron was directly under command of the (I) Mtn Bde, they were ordered by the Bde Cdr to deploy ten attack helicopters along with the Bde at Paro, with a two aircraft detachment at Gangtok in Sikkim for cross over air support.  Maj Sen was to be the detachment commander at Gangtok with ‘Pink & Nim’ as his ‘wing men’.

Kathmandu / Dhaka  : D-15

Chinese intelligence awoke their assts, the ‘Sleepers’,  in Nepal, Sikkim and West Bengal through carefully placed advertisement in the vernacular press. They were contacted one by one, coordinated through the Chinese embassy in Kathmandu. Sacks of Indian currency was surreptitiously smuggled across the Nepal border and distributed amongst the ‘Sleepers’ for distribution among the pro-Bhutia political activists to start an ‘Anti Nepalese’ campaign and to whip up as much ethnic pride and pro Chogyal sentiments. Large posters of the Chogyal were to be printed and posted at prominent locations all over Sikkim.

The Maoist cadres in Nepal were tasked to whip up an anti India agitation on any pretext.

Maoist cadre and the right wing ‘Naxalites’ were contacted in 24 Parganas  in the southern reaches of West Bengal and advised to immediately shift activities to the ‘Chicken’s Neck’, to carry out indiscriminate IED bombings and to ferment Hindu Muslim riots. An exodus of Muslim population was to be triggered into Bangladesh or to West Bengal.

Sympathisers in the National Security Intelligence (NSI) and the Dte General Forces Intelligence (DGFI) were approached by the Chinese embassy in Dhaka to re-arm and re-induct the north east militants and insurgents, hiding in Bangladesh, back into Assam, Nagaland, Manipur and Meghalaya to ferment as much violence and political turmoil as possible

Pro Chinese Red Karen and Kachin tribes residing in northern parts of Burma and southern regions of Thailand were instructed and armed with AK-47 rifles to move into Mon province of Nagaland. They were to target sabotage activities at the airfields at Chabua, and Dum Duma.

Demchok , Nyoma Sector : D -10

Early morning Chinese troops were seen holding a white banner on their side of the Indus. ITBP post commander immediately reported the matter to the Brigade HQ and was instructed to reciprocate with a  white banner and to be prepared for a flag meeting across the river. However the Chinese troops immediately inflated a Zodiac with a small outboard motor and sent four tough looking soldiers across the river for the white flag meeting. They crossed the fast flowing Indus with much difficulty drifting down stream towards Tashigang before they could cross. The  Zodiac was trailing a thin stout Nylon rope. Two of the Chinese soldiers were Tibetan and spoke fluent Hindi. They requested Indian Army medical help to treat twelve of their soldiers suffering from acute pulmonary oedema (high altitude sickness).  The Bde HQ responded immediately and advised them to send the sick soldiers to the military hospital at Nayoma. They also despatched two 4 x 4 high powered Stallion vehicles from the ASC pool at Dungti to convey the sick Chinese soldiers. 
The Chinese reacted immediately and purposefully. They drove angled iron pikes into the river bank and used a portable battery operated winch to haul two 8 mm wire wound high tension stainless steel cables across the river using the Nylon rope that they had towed across with them. They tied down the cables, two meter distance from each other, using metal pegs on either side of the river. The Zodiac was placed between the two cables, and was hooked to them using sliding wheels anchored to the battery operated winch. With much cheering and cat calls from either side of the river, the Zodiac made several to and fro crossings to convey the patients two at a time. By the time the patients were brought across, the Doctors in the Stallion trucks had arrived from Dungti and took away the Chinese sick soldiers back to Nayoma.

The Chinese had perfected a means to cross the wide fast flowing Indus river quickly efficiently and safely. After the patients  were taken away to Nayoma, a team of Chinese engineers worked on the steel ropes and made it more secure on both banks using metal trusses, supports and cable tensioners, all of which they ferried across the river from their own camp. There was much entertainment for the observation posts on both sides while all this went on.  None suspected any evil portent in all this entertainment.

Duinaxiang (Chumbi Valley China) :  D-9

In a formal ceremony Shao Xiao Zhu Xiaoyan handed over the tunnels to Shang Xiao Danny Liu and his civilian team. The three small tactical nuclear mines, resembling two spheres attached to a thin cylinder, much like ‘Dumbbells’, were lowered individually into the tunnel mouth and sent forward using self propelled intelligent ‘Pigs’, their progress monitored by the instrumented control vehicles. Each was placed in their designated slots, staggered both vertically and horizontally. Each would be detonated automatically in a pre-planned manner after random one to two hours, to simulate the main quake followed by aftershocks, each device exploding with lesser and lesser force, thereby creating shock waves that dampened progressively.

In a repetitive formal ceremony Shang Xiao Danny handed over the tunnels back to Shao Xiao Zhu to pump in the liquid cement and to shore up the tunnel mouth. The camp was dismantled immediately afterwards and all except Zhu, Danny and Danny’s team were sent off to the main military base at Duinaxiang.  After the explosions, Shao Xiao Zhu had been secretly tasked by Beijing to shoot Danny and his team and to destroy all evidence of the drilling operations. 

Sukhna D-8

The Corps Commander of XXXIII Corps, Lt Gen Prakash Singh was peeved.
‘I want the strike corps elements put under my command’, he turned to his BGS. ‘Don’t you think so ?’
The BGS, Brig PV Sawant simply nodded. After serving with him for two years, he knew Prakash and his problem fairly well. Lt Gen Prakash was a control freak, a man who in his younger days had preferred to let others do his work and shirked his responsibilities. As he grew older he desired that others in turn handover the power and laurels to him. He was a social climber, highly networked with his superiors. He had many god fathers who ensured that they dragged him along, even decorated him even when he did not deserve such laurels. And by the time he became a Corps Commander he had assumed the mantle of Caesar without the military acumen to command even a platoon.
‘Sir probably this must be as a result of the meeting between the King of Bhutan and the Chief, you know how sensitive the King of Bhutan is  about XXXIII Corps incursion into his fiefdom’, Sawant said to placate his boss. The King’s animosity to Prakash was well known, especially after their close interaction at NDC where Prakash was one of the directing staff when the King underwent NDC.
‘The bloody buggers’, Prakash retorted. “I will fix them, just wait and see’ he said vindictively.

Islamabad : D- 7

The high level Chinese military delegation to Islamabad was received with military honours.  They were rushed to the Pak Army HQ without delay. The Chinese briefly outlined their invasion plan and demanded a synergised pre-emptive action form all three Pak services as also forthwith activation of all sleepers and proactive extremist / insurgent groups in Kashmir. 

The erudite, dynamic, high profile and beautiful Pak foreign minister interjected, ‘What is in it for Pakistan ?’, she asked.  In subsequent discussions she extracted not only a $ 300 billion aid package, but also technology cooperation in several fields of activity critical to Pakistan.  China agreed to all conditions put forward by her except supply of enriched uranium for nuclear reactors or weapons grade plutonium. That was to be discussed after the war.     

Hashimara / Bhagdogra : D- 6

The two Jaguar Squadrons that deployed at Hashimara and Bhagdogra the previous week took several days to settle down and acclimatise to the new environments. Though they had ten aircraft deployed at each of the airfields, they had a shortage of pilots and hence could not notch more than two sorties per pilot per day. When they were finally ready for low level penetration into the hills, they were forbidden from entering Nepal, Bhutan or China. Hence they simply went up and down Sikkim and also found that they could not penetrate into the Nathu La pass region. The valleys were too narrow and their turning radius too large. They made several long distance low level forays beyond Bhutan into Arunachal and found that the Tawang valley was better but they had to keep fifteen km away from actual line of control. High level penetration was found to be the only satisfactory and safe tactic in all these valleys. During practice missions the aircraft did not carry any air to air or air to ground munitions, only drop tanks.

In conjunction with Su-30 and Mig-29s from Chabua and Tezpur, AWAC and IL-78 mid air refuelling tankers from Agra, they practised triangular cross country in Assam plains followed by multi directional strikes on simulated targets deep into Arunachal resembling targets deep inside Tibet. The Air-I, Air Cmde Hari Nair VM, in Eastern Air Command at Shillong, concluded that their employment for close air support in Sikkim or Bhutan had limited flexibility and at best they were useful for interdiction of targets deep inside Tibet and China. The two Squadrons were told to wind up and go back to Ambala. 

Paro / Gangtok : D-5

 
The strike corps elements from Ranchi were airlifted to Paro by a wave of IAF  IL 76, C-130 and AN-32’s. They did not have transports, or mules, just the soldiers with their small arms,  some howitzers and medium calibre field arty.  The sagacious and humane Corps Cdr’s brief was simple and to the point. ‘Go on a holiday to Paro. Familiarise the troops to the terrain and win the heart and confidence of the Bhutan Govt. Come back safe’. He was confident that the BGS Brig Sonam Wongdi could do all that single handed. He was a born in the mountain man, a simple unaffected soldier’s soldier,  and above all he was already a friend of the King and had his full confidence.  The visiting brigade stayed at Paro only for a few days. The military assets of Bhutan were attached to them and they set out to climb the mountains,  towards Damthang and Drugyel Dzong, with a view to assessing the accessibility from Bhutan to Chumbi Valley.

The Apache squadron deployed at Paro and were given hospitable accommodations. They were given the dispersal and parking bay, and half the hangar on the north side of the terminal building.  The ten aircraft detachment was accompanied by their ground support equipment and support vehicles, all of them air lifted from Ranchi by IL-76 to Hashimara from where they had been driven up to Paro, a special concession granted by the King.  Immediately on arrival, they formed up into two aircraft pairs and commenced Lo-Lo penetration and close air support sorties along the border between Bhutan and Chumbi Valley as also impregnable northern borders of Bhutan with Tibet. At night the aircraft and important support vehicles were parked indoors in the hangar.

 Maj Sen, his crew Capt Vaz (Srinivas), as also Pink & Nim detached to Gangtok, their support equipment driven down from Hashimara to Kalimpong and to Gangtok in Sikkim. They deployed in the open, in one corner of the large Gangtok helipad. Aviation Kerosene was available in plenty, the drums brought up earlier from Hashimara by ASC trucks. The air and ground crew pitched tents below the helipad on the mountain slope. However, due to aircraft snag, trouble with one of the two engines on Maj Sen’s Apache, they took two more days to get operational and start flying. The first sortie was flown Lo-Lo profile along the winding road up to Nathu La pass. When they climbed to high altitude above 3000 mts, Pink found that the handling qualities of the Apache reduced drastically. At high pitch and collective the helicopter started to jitter and shake up and down in low frequency but high amplitude vibrations.  The cruise speed was cut to half and the control response sluggish. When the angle of bank was increased for a sharp turn, the retreating blade tended to stall and the helicopter became difficult to control. Landing and takeoff procedures had to be altered to steeper approach and no hover landings. Pink & Nim discussed all these with Maj Sen late into the night over a drink  at the ASC mess and took exhaustive briefings on high altitude flying, handling characteristics and weapon delivery.         

Demchok , Nyoma Sector : D -4

When the sun rose, the ITBP observation post saw Chinese presence on Indian side of the river. A Shang Xiao (Colonel) with two soldiers and a Tibetan interpreter had crossed the river before sunrise using the zodiac and the rope way.  The Chinese Colonel demanded that he be taken to visit his sick soldiers to check on their welfare.

When taken to the military hospital at Nyoma, he complained about the poor quality of medical attention that was being given to his sick soldiers. He made a fuss shouting and ranting. He demanded that his soldiers be shifted to a Base hospital at Leh or somewhere else by helicopter. After due deliberations the Army Cdr Northern Command took pity and authorised a heli lift in a MI-17 from Tashigang to Leh.  The Colonel went with his soldiers to Leh. Afterwards, he was driven back to Demchok and went back across the river in the Zodiac.

What the Indian army did not know was the Chinese Colonel belonged to the corps of intelligence and had nothing to do with the sick Chinese soldiers. The whole thing was a ploy, a Trojan horse. The Colonel had come on a deep penetration reconnaissance to find out the orbats and deployments of the Indian army in the area between Leh and Demchok and to assess their reactions first hand.    

New Delhi : D-3

The President of India took off from Delhi in an Air India chartered direct nonstop 777 flight for the US for open heart surgery at Bethedesa Naval Hospital.  A large entourage, including the Vice President as well as the Prime Minster and her cabinet colleagues saw him off at the special VIP dispersal of Delhi airport, within the Air Force complex on the north side of the airport. The President was accompanied by his wife Gurshan Kaur and two daughters, a few staff from his retinue of the Presidential staff and a handful of reporters. However, in keeping with Presidential request, the entourage was probably the smallest that ever went abroad with an Indian President.

In  his short farewell speech at the airport, the President wished India well and hoped to be back soonest, after the scheduled surgery immediately on landing in US.

The Air HQ photo interpreters received the digital data from the Mil Sat that had been taken twenty seven days earlier. A quick analysis indicated troop deployments north of Chumbi valley, especially the presence of an extraordinary number of pack animals and very few vehicles. The IAF immediately notified the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC). The Jt Sec JIC, (Mil) Far East, a serving Brigadier immediately sent a memo to R&AW, with a copy to Dy NSA and , seeking  comments. The NTRO, processed the memo through it’s bureaucratic labyrinth and a retired Maj Gen, in charge of wireless surveillance commented that there was increased HF and VHF radio traffic being reported from Tibet. NTRO sent a memo to Air HQ Int branch,  with a copy to NRSA at Hyderabad as well as to JIC, to review more recent reports of Mil Sat to determine whether there was a serious military build up in Tibet. This was the usual bureaucratic volley ball game of the Govt Of India, where the objective  was not to do anything but to make it sound that one was doing something. So no one blew a whistle that the Dragon was about to spew fire, while very one could say afterwards, ‘I told you so’.

Times Of India published a precipitated news leak from the Ministry of Petroleum on it’s front page. The Times New Roman 36 font headlines said “India strikes Oil & Gas in Chinese backyard”. The correspondent, with lung inflated pride in the super power status of India, went hammer and tongs about ‘ONGC Videsh’ and it’s mad quest to find petroleum ‘anywhere and everywhere’, even in China.

The Chinese ambassador in Chanakyapuri cut out the article and sent it to Beijing with his comment, ‘Indian hegemony in China ?’.

The IAF Chief took over as the Chairman Joint Chiefs Of Staff. He thanked the outgoing Naval Chief for an excellent job done by him.

 The National Security Advisor (NSA) was hospitalised in Army RR, diagnosed with Typhoid, drinking contaminated water at Sardar Patel Bhawan.

 Maj Sen was ordered to fly in from Gangtok to Paro, an overnight trip, to attend a ceremonial dinner that was being hosted by the Dragon King and Queen Pema in the honour of the visiting Indian Brigade. Pink & Nim smuggled their ceremonials and considerable woman’s baggage in the electronic bay of their Apache when they ferried from Gangtok to Paro that evening. They were presented to the King and Queen by the BGS  Brig Sonam Wongdi. The King immediately took a shine to them and quizzed them about the Apache and what they were capable of doing in war.  Nim used her hands to explain formation flying tactics, especially the coordinated manoeuvring. The young Queen giggled and grabbed the Kings sleeve.  The festivities and bonhomie spilled late into the night and finally when it was time to go home, Pink & Nim managed to corner the BGS and ask him to announce a stand down the next day, for the Indian Brigade to recuperate from the festivities. The Queen giggled some more and the King nodded his appreciation of such a request. The BGS really had no choice. He knew when to accept defeat especially from the formidable Pink & Nim.

Lt Gen Prakash Singh fumed over his drink at the Alpha mess in Sukhna. He was peeved that he was not invited as a chief guest for the festivities at Paro despite his sending feelers through his staff officers. He perceived that the Dragon King was pompous and a nit wit. Despite the efforts of his BGS, Brig Sawant, Prakash fumed all evening and ruined the happiness of his senior general staff in Alpha mess.

Early morning, with no provocation or warning, the PLA started artillery shelling at Sela and Bumla Passes, Lahu and Tawang. They used heavy long range artillery. There was consternation and panic amongst the civilian population at Tawang. They started to runaway, downhill,  using any means of  transport, clogging the roads and completely choking the single arterial road access to Tawang. The GOC asked for gun locating radars to be moved up from Tezpur. Since the roads were choked, it took all day for MI17 helicopters to convey the radars to Zimithang.  By four O’clock and till around mid night a suitable response was given using Bofors guns and 105 mm field artillery. After midnight, the PLA ceased firing and hence the Indian army too stopped firing. However, all military forces in the east were put on high alert.        

New Delhi :  D-1

The Director General Military Operations (DGMO) at Army HQ  heaved a sigh of relief and went home. He had been maintaining an all night vigil for over 24 hrs. The entire border with China from Damchok in Kashmir to Kibito in Arunachal was tense.

The beautiful, dynamic, articulate and highly believable Hina Rabbani Khar was emphatic and most convincing during her speech after the meeting between the Foreign Ministers of India and Pakistan. She announced during the joint press conference,  ‘India and Pakistan must endeavour in a win win mutually advantageous manner to find solutions to our age old problems. The days of conflict are over, the two peoples desire peace and prosperity. During our meeting, ‘His Excellency’ and I have identified core areas of  cooperation and good will which we are confident will bring the two countries to a closer tie that was till now considered impossible’.
‘Yes Yes’, the aged and rather unimpressive Indian Foreign Minister nodded assent. He was totally overwhelmed by his counterpart, and her overt sense of commitment and sincerity.

Sagar Samrat spudded oil at a depth of 5200 mtrs. The oil gushed upwards through the overhead granny and spilled over the entire platform drenching all working personnel of ONGC. The well was immediately capped and the BOPs clamped into place.

A spurt of high level Chinese UAV reconnaissance was noticed by the Army as well as the IAF over several sectors in Arunachal. Several attempts were made by Mig 21 combat aircraft from Tezpur to intercept and shoot down the UAVs. But they could not be located and hence all the UAVs returned back safely to Tibet. Border violation reports were lodged by a Jt Sec in MOE with the Chinese embassy in Delhi.   The Chinese ambassador refuted all such violations and in a press conference claimed that it was a pigment of Indian imagination. When the overtly aggressive press criticised and taunted for sound bites, the ambassador got upset and called the Indian press as ‘Uncouth Pigs’.

Sukhna : D Day


The first wave of the earth quake hit Sukhna at 0230. It measured 7.7 on the Richter scale. The tremor was so strong that it broke the legs of the wooden bed and Lt Gen Prakash Singh fell to the ground along with the bed with a thump. All electrical bulbs fused and there was complete darkness.  He was in the REM phase of deep sleep and hence awoke completely disorientated in complete darkness. He lay there dazed and hence, when the roof collapsed, the support beam fell squarely on him and crushed his head.  The buildng collpased over him and he was instantly burried under the rubble.

The first shockwave lifted the concrete blocks of the runway and taxi tracks at Bhagdogra air field and piled them at crazy angles. All hangars and blast pens collapsed inwards on the aircraft parked inside. The air traffic tower, as also all water tanks, simply disintegrated into rubble.  At Hashimara airfield, the degree of destruction was worse.
In the first wave, just about every concrete structure in Sikkim and adjoining area of Nepal and Bhutan fell down. The roads simply disappeared.  Check dams broke and rivers changed their course.   


End of Part -1.  The war is just beginning :>). To be continued.............

CYCLIC