Major General Gagandeep Bakshi, a retired Indian Army officer, honoured with the Vishishit Seva medal for his bravery in the Kargil War is a scholar in strategic studies. He served in the war along with great names no longer between us, like the second Lieutenant martyred Arun Khetrpal and Jagjit Singh Arora who accepted the world largest surrender after WWII of 93,000 Pakistani soldiers.
On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Vijay Diwas, Major General GD Bakshi, in an exclusive interaction with The Liberal Journal told about the untold stories of the Kargil war as well as talking about the cross-border issues with Pakistan and China he told ways to counter the notorious strategy of our neighbours.
Sir, you were part of one of the greatest batches of the Indian army THE BATCH OF 1971, I was able to know from a resource that amid war there was this one incident regarding the wireless system of the Indian side playing a massive role, can you please tell what actually happened there?
We had a wireless experimental unit that use to listen in to every single transmission that the Pakistani made. General Jacob was the mastermind behind setting up those systems. He was a brilliant soldier who had came from Iraq to India. He was a great general expert in History in the Kushan Period. So even before the war started he surrounded Bangladesh (nowadays) with the wireless systems of communication that were monitoring the radio transmission. So we monitored a call that the governor of East Pakistan Dr Adam Malik was wanted to hold a conference with the army which was going to be held in the governor’s house.
The moment we had monitored this conference we had broken their code so we could understand that what they were saying and that was a matter of time when Jacob passed the information to the Indian Air Force. The Indian Air Force’s fighter jets underwing commander Bishnoi armed with a 30mm rocket, fired right inside the governor’s house while the conference was taking place. The entire chandelier and the magnificent hall everything came crashing down to the roof and everybody including general and lieutenant general Amer Akbar Abdullah khan Niazi they all ducked under the table to save their life and there and then Governor took his hand out under the table and on a chit of yellow paper he said “I hereby resigned, I am no longer the governor of East Pakistan” and the general Niazi started sobbing like a baby.
Recently two low-intensity improvised explosive devices were dropped from two drones over Jammu and Kashmir’s air force base, so are our aerial activity detecting system weak against these types of UAV attacks, and how we can assure that these types of the incident will not happen in the future?
India is well equipped to counter the “HALE (high-altitude long-endurance) and WALE (width altitude long endurance)”, military drones which are bigger in size. We can deal with them as they can be picked up on the radar or can be shot down, but these small broad copter drones commercially available off the shelf technology made up of all plastic, no metallic part, battery-operated with very little noise level are extremely difficult to track and have zero radar crossing. All over the world, the small copter drones are not very lethal due to the very lass charge they can carry but at the same time, they are very difficult to destroy. We can detect them, we can buy the technology even we are developing the technology like 2mm-wave radar, infrared beam etc. Those systems cause an amazing amount of money, so just to destroy some thousands rupees drone we can’t spend that much amount which is suppose to buy other offensive weapons. So the only way to stop these types of incidents is to attack across the border by being offensive.
The war system includes a shield along with a sword, and if you are using a shield on the battleground only then you are a “FOOL”, the biggest fool on earth. So have a sword and for god sake “use the sword”. The problem is for 30 years we only used shield against terrorist we only defended in our own territory in a reactive and defensive consequent managing type manner. Old-time was disastrous in which we lost around 80,000 Indian citizens, which includes 45,000 from J&K 21,000 from Punjab and remaining for all other parts of the country. After 26/11 we failed to do anything, we refused to do anything except sending a huge compilation of dossiers expecting Pakistani squads to punish the terrorists they had recruited funded and armed while sending them to do damage in India. Thank God that era is over and we have started to hit back just like in URI in which we had a surgical strike, we had an airstrike in Pulwama, and after Pulwama 22 months Pakistan was quiet.
We removed article 370,35 A neither there was a terrorist attack nor there was any river of blood as Mehmbuba Mukthi was threatening in J&K. Pakistan promotes J&k to proceed with their asymmetric war against India, it’s another matter that China and Turkey are influencing Pakistan to do so. We must clear it to Pakistan that we will not fight defensively we will hit back with all our power for every one Indian you killed we will kill 100 Pakistani on your soil. That’s the only way.
Sir very often, these attacks are alleged to be conducted by Pakistan-based terrorists. So sir, by dropping low IEDs, aren’t they ultimately revealing their new advanced technology?
It’s not a revelation. Since the last 4-5 years, drones have been used regularly by ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Like I told you, there was a Bangladeshi engineer who joined ISIS. He helped them use drones to drop bombs and the ISIS could only be stopped because their entire territory was destroyed and their bases were destroyed. That’s the only way to do it.
Next, you have the Armenia-Azerbaijan (Nagorno-Karabakh) conflict that took place in Sept-Oct last year. Azerbaijan was given a whole lot of drones by Turkey and Israel. They used them to bring Armenia to its knee. It’s no surprise, that this new method of attack is coming up. I hope you remember, in September 2019, Houthi rebels in Yemen used drones to attack 2 Saudi oil fields of Aramco. 5 % of the world’s oil supply was disrupted. They destroyed these two oil refineries at Abqaiq and Khurais, just by using drones.
Sir, do you think these attacks are politically motivated?
Of course, they are. Pakistan wants to disrupt the peace process in J & K. It wants to prevent the return of the democratic process in J & K. It wants to prevent peace and progress in J & K. 370 is gone and Pakistan can’t do anything about it. We just have to keep a strong will. Like Israel, you hit us, we’ll hit you back 10 times as much. We’ll teach you a lesson for trying to kill our people, our women and children. But no, you are incapable of fighting like soldiers. You are fighting in this cowardly asymmetric manner using terrorists. Now, they have stopped using terrorists and are more willing to use drones. The drone costs only Rs 10,000. At least for the terrorists, they had to pay lakhs and lakhs of rupees to get them to go to India and get killed. For them, what is that small sum of money for the disproportionate damage done to India?
Sir, having a PHD, in strategic studies and observing China’s salami-slicing strategy under which it claims, various regions of India, and other countries, leading to a tense situation just like the Galwan standoff we are experiencing now, so what will be the right approach to counter this strategy, when on another hand we have 2nd front open with Pakistan which occasionally raises tension on LOC.
Look, China’s strategy has been to use Pakistan as a cat paw to keep you down and so preoccupied, leaving no energy to spare on China. That has been their strategy they gave nuclear weapons, missiles, tanks, aircraft, submarines and everything to Pakistan at a very low rate to keep troubling India. Now they are encouraging them because even they know that Pakistan will pay a bashing price to fight India head-on. So they are telling them to fight with terrorists or drones and to keep India tight down but Pakistan was forced to stop the war because of the retaliatory action by India. Now China is trying to convey that they will keep India engaged and encouraging them to carry on. Pakistan is not obliged to follow the Chinese strategy. You must impose your own strategy on your enemy’s strategy. If it’s China’s strategy to do salami-slicing strategy why do we have to do the same? If China says we will not use weapons and will use stones and bats with carved wire and nails like things so why do we have to fight that way, You don’t have weapons machine guns artillery?? . If they are killing Indians hit them back hard. But if they are not using guns, we will also use the alternatives, are you an Idiot? Why do we have to spend crore and crore of rupees if you are battling china with stone and bats? That is the thinking which is harming us.
India always had its supremacy over the Indian Ocean, hence the name. However, this April, the Indian Navy Admiral Karambir Singh made a statement regarding the increasing Chinese naval presence in the Indian Ocean. So what is your take?
Of course, the Chinese are trying to muscle in. As you might be aware that they have a strategy of surrounding you like a string of pearls. The Chinese have an equivalent of chess, called Weichi. In the game, the aim is to surround more territory than the opponent. That is exactly the Chinese strategy. They are trying to do that through a series of bases. They’ve got the Gwadar port in Pakistan, they’ve got the Hambantota port and now the Colombo port in Sri Lanka. They are trying to secure territory in the Maldives. They are trying to get a port in Djibouti. They have purchased land and made a huge military base there. They are trying to form a ring of hostile states and their bases around you.
We have to give China a tit for tat. If they will try and harm us in our backyard, we can go to their backyard in the South China Sea, the East China Sea, Taiwan strait and give it back to them. If they want to use Pakistan, we can always make friends with Vietnam, South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, which are all very scared of China. We can make very good friends and have a strategic alliance with Japan to balance China. That is the way to do it. Do tit for tat. Teach him a lesson. You want to do this, we will do the same. Let’s see how you like it. We are living peacefully, can’t you live peacefully? Just because we are peaceful and quiet and we mind our business, doesn’t mean everybody must trouble us and make our lives miserable.
(Interview taken by Prashant Sah and Vaishnavi Shree)