Remembering the Jadugar of 9 PARA

Remembering the Jadugar of 9 PARA

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Remembering the Jadugar, Lance Naik Mohan Nath Goswami | 9 PARA | Ashoka Chakra on his 3rd martyrdom anniversary. His life was a saga of #Guts & #Glory. A #fearless commando who volunteered for 3 operations in under 10 days killing 11 terrorists. A soldier who laughed at #death straight in the face. And when it was finally time, it was he who let death have him. Willingly, without wavering!

L/Nk Goswami came from a village in #Uttrakhand with a military tradition. His father, who was in the Assam Rifles, passed away when L/Nk Goswami was very young, but there was little doubt that he too would take to the military.

In 2002, L/Nk Goswami joined the elite 9 Para, the Special Forces (SF) unit of the army trained specifically for quick engagements in formidable mountain areas. He went on to gain the reputation of being one of the toughest soldiers of his unit – “no small feat in an outfit that boasts of being one among the best in the world”.

The L/Nk Goswami volunteered for all operational missions undertaken by his unit and was a part of numerous successful counter-terrorist operations in J&K. In three consecutive operations in Aug-Sep 2015 spanning 11 days, he and his fellow soldiers eliminated 10 Laskhar-e-Tayiba terrorists and captured one.

OPERATION #KHUMUR

“The first operation was conducted in Khurmur, Handwara, on August 23. The operation resulted in elimination of three hardcore LeT terrorists of Pakistan origin. L/Nk Goswami neutralised a militant and extricated injured Captain Mehra out of the area, all the while keeping himself between the firing terrorist in case a firing bullet managed to find them in the darkness.

OPERATION #LIDDER #PANZAL

With barely a two day lull, L/Nk Goswami volunteered for the second back-to-back operation in Rafiabad, Kashmir. Code named Operation Lidder Panzal was conducted over two days on August 26 and 27. It witnessed a fierce gunfight that led to the elimination of three more LeT terrorists.

On the morning of 26 August, a sunny, warm day, the 9 Para were called in. They had been waiting for this call. Three days earlier, on being tipped off that a group of five militants was moving through the forests of Kazi Nag, high up in the Uri area of north Kashmir, the army and Jammu and Kashmir Police had launched an operation. Moving in a large cordon, the soldiers had closed in on the militant group by 25 August. A gun battle ensued, and one militant was shot down. Four others escaped, moving across a ridge line on to higher, more rugged terrain. They were armed well, and moving fast.

Minutes later, a small assault team of 9 Para was airborne. L/Nk Mohan Nath Goswami was his usual cheerful self, checking on others in his team, making sure the men were carrying the correct weapons and gear. Self-assured and soft-spoken, he could, in his quiet way, inspire both calm and confidence. L/Nk Goswami was not tall, but he was big-boned and lean, a trained mountaineer, and, as his #CO (Commanding Officer) described him, “a happy mix of humility and deep power”.

The team was dropped to the place where the militants had been last sighted, more than 9,000ft up in the mountain. The army and the police had cordoned off a large circumference around the area. They intercepted a radio call from the militants to their handler in Pakistan saying that they were surrounded. Picking their way carefully through thick forest, and then on to the higher, rocky reaches of the mountain, the team from 9 Para searched for the terrorists. It needed patience and caution. House-sized boulders surrounded them. There were deep caves on the mountain face. You could be ambushed from anywhere.

The 9 Para love places like this: The boulder fields provide excellent cover, if you know how to move through them; but each one could also hold danger, a militant lurking behind it. By noon, there was contact. Moving slowly, silently, with infinite patience, the SF men spotted a foot jutting out of a cave.

L/Nk Goswami, at the front of the assault team, called out a challenge. There was a burst of fire in return. Following the direction of fire, the 9 Para fired back. “Ek koh laga hai”, L/Nk Goswami said over the radio, “one of them has been hit”.

The cave system the militants were using as cover was complex, surrounded by rocks and trees and at a tricky elevation. When the bursts of fire died down, the men from 9 Para began to fan out, taking up ambush positions around the cave, sealing off exit routes.

Radios fell silent. Then they waited. The sounds of the forest replaced the sound of gunfire; a drowsy hum of insects. At nightfall, a militant tried to break free, firing and running, and was shot down.

The 9 Para tightened their ambush position, prepared to wait again. There was a brief downpour, drenching everything, and the night plunged into cold. That night, the wind grew too, chilling the already soaked men further. L/Nk Goswami and the men ate a couple of puris with pickle deep in the night, a frugal dinner.

At daybreak, communicating silently with hand signals, the assault team broke cover and inched forward. They were met by a hail of fire. Bullets ricocheted off the boulders with deadly unpredictability. Then a couple of grenades flew in, bursting dangerously close, sending splinters flying. The militants too were cold, hungry, and cornered now, after four days of enduring the roughest of conditions. There was no more time left. They had been squeezed into the tightest of spots. One of them fired, and was shot back. There was a lull. One more down. Now two two-men teams got to the mouth of the cave. L/Nk Goswami assumed a cover-fire position behind a rock. The advance teams now switched to non-lethal weapons, rolling in a couple of chilli grenades into the cave. It started to rain again. The two commandos outside the cave called out to the solitary militant inside. “Throw your weapons and come out, and we won’t kill you. You have no chance of coming out alive if you keep fighting.”

Weeping from the chilli grenades, cold, wet and emaciated, the last militant hobbled out of the cave. The men secured the terrorist giving him the last of their food and water. With their valuable captive, the men summoned a heptor to fly back to base.

LAST AND FINAL, #OPERATION #SUTSALYAR
The men would get a bonus of just 6 days before they got their next call. On 2 Sept, L/Nk Goswami was getting ready to go back into an operation in the same area. The army had already launched a #CASO (Cordon and Search Ops) on the densely forested slopes near a village called Sochalwari in Kupwara after reports of militant movement. Two troops of the 9 Para, almost a 100 men were inserted into the area just before dusk. L/Nk Goswami was paired with Hav Mahender Singh, a combat diver and mountaineer.

L/Nk Goswami was raring to go, even after two back-to-back operations. He had just come back from a rare holiday, so he just wanted to be in action. When they got to the village, the 9 Para were shown the area where an unknown number of militants were thought to be hiding. Ahead of them was an area of very dense undergrowth, sloping steeply upwards into denser forests of deodar, chinar, spruce, birch and juniper, criss-crossed by lots of mountain streams. Even in clear daylight, anyone could hide in the forest and not be seen. The men of the 9 Para began their patient search. Darkness fell.

At around 8 at night, deep in the forest, the SF men saw and heard something moving around a 100m ahead of them.

“Movement,” the call went out on the radio.

A challenge was made by one of the SF men: “Tham! (Stop!)”

The face-off began with the four terrorists opening fire at the Army soldiers, injuring three of them. L/Nk Goswami dashed forward to rescue the injured men, killing one terrorist and drawing fire from others. A bullet hit Goswami in the right thigh. He fired back. Another bullet hit him, this one in the abdomen but he continued to charge forward, killing another terrorist at point blank range. Nk Goswami was bleeding profusely now but the gun fight was raging. It was around 3 am in the morning that the last militant went down. The firing stopped. Within minutes, his colleagues were next to L/Nk Goswami, carrying him down the mountain towards the road, where ambulances and other support vehicles and teams waited. L/Nk Goswami had breathed his last before they could get him to a vehicle.

Official Ashok Chakra Citation:

On the intervening night of 02/03 Sept 2015, Lance Naik Mohan Nath Goswami was part of an ambush in Haphruda forest at Kupwara district of Jammu and Kashmir. At about 20:15hrs, there was a fierce encounter with four terrorists wherein two of his comrades were injured and pinned down. Lance Naik Mohan along with his buddy dashed forward to rescue their injured colleagues, knowing well the risks to their own lives. He first assisted in eliminating one terrorist. Sensing grave danger to three of his wounded colleagues, L/Nk Goswamiwith utter disregard to his own personal safety, charged at the remaining terrorists drawing intense fire from them. He was hit in the thigh. Unmindful, he closed in and eliminated one terrorist, injured another and was again shot in the abdomen. Undeterred by his injuries, he hurled himself on the last terrorist and killed him at point blank range before succumbing to his wounds. Lance Naik Mohan not only killed two terrorists, but also assisted in neutralizing the other two and save the lives of three of his wounded colleagues. Thus, Lance Naik Mohan Nath Goswami exhibited most conspicuous gallantry in personally eliminating two terrorists and assisting in evacuation of his wounded colleagues and made supreme sacrifice in the highest traditions of the Indian Army.”

Fellow soldiers say L/Nk Goswami breathed his last with his daughters name, Bhoomika on his lips. He dreamed of making Bhoomika a doctor. The last time the braveheart was home was for his daughter’s birthday in August. It had been a happy fortnight, they had visited relatives and made plans for a holiday in Goa in December. But in less than a month, L/Nk Goswami was martyred.

As his wife, Bhawna Goswami says, “It is hard, but good people are needed both in heaven and earth.” And thats why God called him. Rest in Peace, Hero!

#HeroesInUniform

ADGPI – Indian Army #LestWeForget