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Sunday read | Sitrep: A career in counter-insurgency operations

The Battle of Haifa, in a sense, was the first successful test of Indian military leadership at the micro level in modern times

punjab Updated: Jul 17, 2017 08:12 IST
Mandeep Singh Bajwa
Mandeep Singh Bajwa
Hindustan Times
counter-insurgency,Indian army,military
Mysore and Bengal Lancers with Bikanir Camel Corps in the Sinai Desert, 1915.(WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

Brigadier Sanjive Kumar Singh, a third-generation infantryman and a popular figure in Chandigarh, looks back with satisfaction at a career of 36 years with extensive experience in counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir and the North East.

As a young Captain, he carried out reconnaissance across the LoC (Line of Control) in Siachen, monitoring Pakistani troop movements in 1984.

Serving with the Assam Rifles in Imphal, he established an effective intelligence network which led to successful operations against NSCN (Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland) insurgents and PLA (People’s Liberation Amry of Manipur) separatists.

Commanding a company of 16th Rajputana Rifles in Kupwara in the 90s, he worked with Jallaluddin Chaudhary, a top surrendered militant whose information he developed to carry out successful operations.

This was the time when Captain Sanjay Chauhan of his battalion carried out a daring operation, disguised as a Pakistani terrorist in the Rajwar forests, killing ten terrorists before his four-man team was overwhelmed.

Posted on the staff with HQ 5 Sector, Rashtriya Rifles, Sanjive synchronised terrorist surrenders.

He was the pivotal liaison with Kuka Parray, the top Ikhwani and his group of turned terrorists.

This was the crucial time when strenuous efforts resulted in the restoration of uniformity which led to the holding of assembly elections in 1996 — a singular achievement of the security forces. Commanding his battalion in the Mahadev Gap and in NausheraPir Badesar, Sanjive used unconventional methods to lay ambushes on the LoC leading to an appreciable fall in infiltration.

As many as 35 terrorists were killed with the recovery of a huge amount of weapons and ammunition.

Finally, as deputy commander of Victor Force in South Kashmir, the handsome Brigadier used his long experience of counter-insurgency to coordinate area dominance in his formation’s zone and the incident-free organisation of two Amarnath Yatras.

I feel privileged to have been his friend for over 40 years.


There was considerable excitement in the media when the Prime Minister visited the Haifa War Cemetery in Israel giving our people an education they lacked. Haifa, a Turkish rear guard position was captured by two regiments of the States Forces — Jodhpur Lancers and Mysore Lancers (now part of 61st Cavalry).

The main lesson that emerged from World War I was the redundancy of horsed cavalry as an arm of decision because of advances in warfare.

Haifa, a fortified town was taken by a full-fledged old-style cavalry charge by the Jodhpur Lancers followed by their Mysore comrades.

In a sense, it was the last hurrah of the old Indian horsed cavalry.

Another distinction these regiments shared has eluded the media and historians. They were led to victory by Indian officers at a time when the first Indian commissioned officers were barely making an entry into the British Indian Army.

It would take another quarter of a century before the first Indian took command of a unit.


Brigadier MPS Bajwa who commanded the formation that captured Tiger Hill, will talk about the Battle of Tiger Hill during the 1999 Kargil War on July 19, Wednesday, at the Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development, Sector 19A at 10.30am.

(Please write in with your narratives of war and military life to or call/WhatsApp on 093161-35343)

First Published: Jul 16, 2017 11:08 IST