Chandigarh: In a stunning revelation, a former Major of the Indian Army has claimed that he had spotted Pakistani infiltrators in Siachen as far back as in January, 1999- a full five months before the official Kargil report that says infiltration was noticed in May-June of that year.
Major Manish Bhatnagar of the 5 Parachute Battalion was court martialled in 2001 for “not obeying orders” a charge which replaced “showing cowardice”. Bhatnagar claims that he was targeted by his seniors for speaking the truth about Pakistani invasion.
“In January-Feb 1999, I saw a series of movements and bunkers on Peak 5770 on Siachen glacier and reported it to my seniors. It was suppressed,” Bhatnagar told Zee News.
The official Army history of Kargil war states that the intrusion by Pakistan was noticed only in May-June of 1999.
As per his appeal before the Armed Forces Tribunal for reinstatement of his honour, Bhatnagar had said in the Situation Report given to his Commanding Officer AK Srivastava that he had observed an enemy bunker. Srivastava, however, asked him not to send any more written reports.
His company also came under enemy fire and some Indian troopers were injured in February. According to Bhatnagar, even this information did not move his seniors to action.
"The reports of enemy activity were withheld from army HQ, the government, and even the neighbouring brigade, for which it was highly actionable information... when the petitioner continued to report enemy activity, he was sent on leave," his petition states.
When this peak was finally captured it revealed a cache of arms and ammunition which indicated presence for a longer time.
Bhatnagar was court martialled after he refused to send his men to resume control of Point 5203 in June- when a complete war had broken out. Bhatnagar says he refused as his company was tired and did not have enough ammo.
Bhatnagar told Zee News that had his information been taken seriously, India would not have lost over 500 soldiers in the war.
The revelation comes days after the Armed Forces Tribunal declared the official Kargil history as fudged and ordered its re-writing.