The Army suffered its worst setback when insurgents carried out a daring attack on the convoy of 6 Dogra, killing 18 soldiers on June 4 in Manipur’s Chandel district.
It has been reported that these troops were attacked by rocket-propelled grenades (RPG), improvised explosive devices (IED) and small arms fire. This set the convoy vehicles on fire and thus charring to death the troops proceeding on leave in such a horrific manner.
Sources from within the Army headquarters and those at ground zero in Manipur reveal a different story. They give an insight into what actually happened and who actually should be held accountable for this disgrace.
As per them, this action took place in two parts. They reveal that the leading vehicle was not attacked by a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG). In fact the RPGs were not used at all.
An RPG is an anti-tank weapon and a hit from this would split a 2.5 ton truck like a banana, which has not been the case. It is also common military knowledge that an explosion from a high-explosive (HE) projectile extinguishes fire rather than ignite it.
The fact of the matter is that this convoy was plying violating all Standard Operating Procedures (SOP). There was no Quick Reaction Vehicle leading this convoy with a light machine gun mounted on top. Nor was there a similar vehicle at the end for providing support to the leading vehicle in case it came under fire. Since a large number of troops who were going on leave were unarmed and shockingly unprotected as well.
Sources reveal that the military hierarchy had been complacent and that specific intelligence existed regarding the possibility of attacks by the NSCN (K) ever since they abrogated the cease fire. Even before the ambush on 6 Dogra, credible intelligence leads were available.
The casualness of the senior field commanders can be gauged from the fact that no combined conferences were held with the state government and the officials of the MHA after NSCN(K) moved away from the cease fire.
The Commanding Officer Colonel Sundeep Madan was on leave while the battalion’s second in command had taken the advance party to Chandigarh. The fate of this de-inducting unit was left at the hands of junior officers who apparently flouted the drills of road opening and convoy movement, hence this massacre.
In such cases the leave is sanctioned by non-other than the Corps Commander himself that to under extreme compassionate grounds. This in itself is a gross violation of the SOP.
Loss of 18 trained soldiers in such a dastardly manner speaks poorly of the army which needs to re-look its operating procedures.
(The author is a retired colonel)