Sit rep | KPS Gill, a thinker and master strategist | punjab | Hindustan Times
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Sit rep | KPS Gill, a thinker and master strategist

KPS Gill’s operational plans were always well thought­out and conceived from his experience and intellectual thought process. He realised that terrorist groups were essentially just criminal gangs bereft of ideology.

punjab Updated: Jun 04, 2017 23:17 IST
Mandeep Singh Bajwa
KPS Gill’s macho image and charismatic personality were accentuated by his towering intellectualism and well thought-out plans.
KPS Gill’s macho image and charismatic personality were accentuated by his towering intellectualism and well thought-out plans.(HT File Photo)

KPS Gill was not just a charismatic leader of men but a thinker and an analyst. Plans of his successful operations bore the imprint of his personality and thought processes. The Gill Plan for ‘Operation Black Thunder’ in the Golden Temple complex in May 1988 is a case in point. The plan called for stand-off operations from outside the complex employing snipers to pick off terrorists. They were designed to maintain sanctity of the shrine, avoid injury to religious sentiments and minimise casualties.

Specially trained personnel and sophisticated equipment from the National Security Guards were used while the police and paramilitary forces maintained a cordon around the complex. The operations were conducted in full public gaze, thereby preventing rumours. Gill and his team used the media successfully as a force multiplier. Effective psy-ops countered separatist propaganda and presented this as a victory for the Indian State. It was Gill at his best!

During the all-out offensive that brought final victory over terrorism after the 1992 elections, KPS Gill used a number of well thought-out strategies and tactics born out of his deep connect with the Punjab countryside and his experience of insurgency. He realised that terrorist groups were now essentially just criminal gangs bereft of ideology or deep commitment to any cause. These were moulded in the personality of their leaders who controlled resources, personnel and access to Pakistani sponsors.

Neutralisation would see the collapse of their gangs. Teams were organised comprising personnel from intelligence, investigation and operations wings and paramilitary forces headed by the police chiefs of the districts to which the leaders belonged to go after them.

The results were electrifying. Throughout 1992, terrorist leaders kept getting eliminated on a regular basis.

New strategic think tank launched

Dynamic people can never rest on their laurels. Therefore I wasn’t surprised when Lt Gen KJ Singh (retd) launched Gyan Setu, a new strategic think tank at Panjab University on Friday. Drawing upon the nucleus of an informal group of thinkers convened by Lt Gen Harwant Singh (retd), former deputy chief of Army staff, the new body seeks to draw upon the experience of many experienced intellectuals in various strategic disciplines in the tricity and synergise thought processes.

Prominent speakers at the soft launch were General VP Malik, former COAS; Lt Gen DS Hooda, former Northern Army commander; KC Singh, retired diplomat and Arun Grover, Panjab University vice-chancellor.

Progress on national war memorial

Good news for those supporting the building of a National War Memorial and the setting up of a museum to showcase our martial history. The government has approved the plans for both.

In a further step, General Surinder Prashar, an intrepid Guardsman who has just demitted command of 11 Division in the desert, has been posted on the Integrated Defence Staff as coordinator for the conception, construction and putting up both the projects on the ground.

Military men, if not politicians and bureaucrats, must learn that military museums are conceived by historians and run by museologists. Knowledgeable professionals must be co-opted in both projects if they are to be truly worldclass and a befitting tribute to the sacrifices of our soldiers and add to our awareness of our military history.

(Write in with your narratives of war and military life to msbajwa@gmail.com or call/WhatsApp on 093161-35343)