FIGHTING ACROSS PASSES: Recapture of Tithwal and Gurez 1947-48
Foreword by Lt Gen SK Saini, PVSM, AVSM, YSM, VSM, ADC, Vice Chief of Indian Army
This book, as a part of a series of literary works that, together cover the whole expanse of the 1947-48 conflict, focuses primarily on the Kishanganga (also referred to as Kishenganga) Valley (and Northern Kashmir as a stepping stone to the said vale). As the readers would know and realise, the bow-shaped river basin of Kishanganga (KG) River provided depth and a huge geographical cushion to the Kashmir Valley during those fateful days. If we were, hypothetically, to take out Kishanganga Valley from the map for a while, the vulnerability of Kashmir Valley and Ladakh region would stand out, needing no further aggrandizement. The KG valley with steep gorges, fast-flowing streams and the KG River, was a tough terrain to evict the well-entrenched enemy from, i.e., after the presence of such elements had been discovered or reported many months after the commencement of the conflict. Post recapture, the extended frontages that the defenders then had to hold against a numerically superior, well-supplied enemy, turned out to be a tactician’s nightmare. When we factor in the realities like lack of an air strip, lack of motorable roads and highly erratic supply lines, the challenges that Indian forces faced in the KG Valley, become apparent. It was, definitely, not a mean task to first throw the invaders out of the river basin and then hold the long stretch of the formidable mountainous terrain with just a handful of troops. As a result, many stretches were re-occupied by the enemy even after Indian troops had evicted them from such areas during the course of the conflict. The KG Valley, incidentally, sat in the middle of two secret plans, Operation Gulmarg (Kashmir and Jammu region) and Operation Datta Khel (Gilgit area), being put into action by Pakistan at that time. And unlike elsewhere, regular troops faced Indian troops from the very beginning of operations in and around the Tithwal area.
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