‘Operation Kabaddi’: Indian army’s aggressive plan to reconfigure LoC in 2001

Outline of the aggressive operation was drawn up in June 2001, barely two years after the end of the Kargil conflict


News Desk April 04, 2019
Indian army soldier. PHOTO:AFP

In the summer of 2001, the Indian army planned a massive and unprovoked assault against Pakistan. The plan – Operation Kabaddi – called for altering the geography of the Line of Control (LoC) and capturing more than 25 Pakistan Army posts, a new book by Happymon Jacob reveals.

The book titled Line on Fire: Ceasefire Violations and India-Pakistan Escalation Dynamics interviewed two senior retired officers of the Indian Army who divulged details about the military operation.

According to an excerpt of the book published on scroll.in the Indian army planned to capture 25-30 Pakistani Army posts in the region of Kashmir. The posts would be captured in multiple phases to overrun Pakistani defences.

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According to the book, the outline of the aggressive operation were drawn up in June 2001, barely two years after the end of the Kargil conflict.

The meeting was held between three senior officers of the Indian army: the newly appointed general officer commanding Northern Command of the Indian army Lieutenant General Rostum K Nanavatty, director general of military operations Lt Gen Gurbaksh Singh Sihota and the then Indian army chief Gen Sundararajan Padmanabhan.

Gen Nanvatty argued that "they had to do something to radically change the payoff structure for Pakistan", and the Indian army chief gave the green signal for 'Operation Kabaddi', telling them to be prepared to carry out the operation in due course.

In the words of Gen Nanavatty, “we were required to be ready to execute operations as planned on orders any time on or after September 1, 2001. But there were no ‘start’ and ‘finish’ dates".

There exists no clarity whether there was political clearance for the operation, with Gen Nanavatty saying “only army HQ can answer the question as to whether the planned operations had the sanction of the government. As far as Northern Command was concerned, we had the approval of army HQ".

"It was not a single, coordinated operation to commence on a prescribed date. There was no mathematical distribution of tasks to formations and units," added Nanavatty.

According to the book, Nanvatty was called in early September, asking whether the plans were ready, to which he responded all they required was a strike order from the army chief.

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However, the 9/11 attack on the twin towers in New York took place which changed the geopolitics of South Asia, meaning the plan never went ahead.

"Perhaps there was a small window of opportunity to carry out the operation immediately after 9/11 when Pakistan had not yet been drafted as an American ally in its war against terror. That window was never taken," the book states.

The excerpt of the book appeared on scroll.in

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