It is often said that the real cost of war is known to the soldier who fights it. Forty-eight years after he killed a Pakistani Major in hand-to-hand combat in the Chhamb sector, Col (retd) Virendra Kumar Sahi still wistfully wonders if he could have met the “tall, handsome” enemy officer under better circumstances. The Army officer had written a bravery citation for the Pak officer after the battle.
One of the lesser-known acts of gallantry of the 1971 Indo-Pak war surfaced at the National Convention of the War Decorated India (WDI) at Western Command headquarters in Chandimandir where Col Sahi, a recipient of the third highest gallantry award, Vir Chakra, recounted how he killed a Pakistani Major in a hand to hand combat. More than 60 wartime gallantry awardees have gathered here in the triennial meeting of their association.
A company commander at the time with 8 Jammu and Kashmir Militia, now known as 8 Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry, Col Sahi, then a Major, was defending positions in Laleali in the hill sub-sector of Chhamb sector, ahead of Akhnoor near Jammu. His position came under severe attack by a Pakistani infantry battalion and it was in this action that he killed the Pakistani Major who, incidentally, was the company commander too of the opposing battalion.
“My forward position came under heavy attack on the intervening night of December 6 and 7, 1971. I left my position with some soldiers and…