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That Midnight Knock At My Door

About ColNarinder Singh Malhan

Colonel Narinder Singh Malhan was commissioned from Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehradun. On having served for almost four decades in Indian Army, he loves to share his experiences through his writings. In his opinion, every life has a lot to unfold. Each life is unique and is an historical document with its own identity. He strongly feels, real discovery is through introspection by looking back in own time. He believes, sharing own experiences are like revisiting life's milestones with more intensity. He thoroughly enjoyed his journey in uniform.

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Midnight knocks at my door continue to be fresh in my memory. I clearly remember that it was 05 January 1999. When I looked at my watch, it was around 1 am.

Having opened the door, I found it was snowing heavily and there was an accumulation of snow almost up to four or five inches. It was all white and freezing cold. Insurgency was at its peak in Kashmir valley. Our unit location was surrounded by villages from all the sides. This made security a more complex issue. We had perimeter security posts all around the boundary fence to guard against militants entering into the unit area. They were manned day and night.

The soldier at my door informed me that there was an emergency. A large crowd from the adjacent village in close proximity had gathered around post number six. Once I reached that post, at a distance of around eight hundred meters, I found there was a situation of panic. People of the village in large numbers had gathered around there. It was a strength of around one hundred and fifty people who were there asking for help. One horse cart was also standing as a part of the crowd. Three young ladies were lying injured in the cart with wounds caused by rifle shots. On further interaction with people there, I found that there was an attack by militants in the village. They had targeted one house.

It emerged during the conversation that militants wanted to marry two young daughters of the family against their wishes. Their marriages had already been fixed with someone else. This was not acceptable to the militants. They had aimed to teach a lesson to the family through this horrifying revenge. During that attack, the family had lost four members of the family including two children. Three injured females from the same family needed immediate medical aid.

Those days, night movements were not allowed after sun set. The same was aimed to control militant’s activities. Writ of ‘Rashtriya Rifles’ (RR) was the order of the day. All activities, till sun rise, used to come to a halt. This strategy worked well against militants trying to move during the night by stealth. This situation presented a challenge before us, as to how to make those injured females reach nearby Army’s medical unit. They needed immediate attention.

Finally, we had the permission to move after co-coordination with HQ (RR). Injured ladies were shifted to army vehicle and they were moved to Army’s medical unit, close by. Two of the injured ladies had bullet injuries in their upper arms and one of them in the thigh. Areas of the injuries were grossly swollen up. medical personnel were quick with their job. Subsequently, they were referred and transferred to a civil hospital for further treatment.

I was face to face with the ugliest designs of militancy. It had created a web of its own, where both ends looked seamless. Common man was on cross roads. He appeared confused. His clarity on his role looked cloudy. He had lost the plot by not knowing what was good for him.

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