Chapter 12. Part 4 All of them were saddened by loss of four of their friends but the hammering they had handed out to Pakis had eased their emotions somewhat. He called medic Havildar Hariom and asked him to assemble a team to collect bodies of the dead. He inquired about the injured soldier and came to know that his condition was stable but required more expert medical attention. He at first considered sending him down carried by two or more of his men on a stretcher but then decided against it. Path was too dangerous and weather too bad. Additionally he needed every hand to defend the post against further Paki attacks. He set out on another tour of his post to rearrange his defences. He moved the mortar teams to more covered nests and away from each other in order to protect them against artillery fire. He positioned 4 of his riflemen near the machine gun bunkers on western side from where 1st wave of Paki infantry had tried to break in. His artillery crew was now idle due to lack of ammunition and he ordered them to dig up additional trenches and place sandbags to provide additional cover for riflemen and mortar crews. His men were still placing the sandbags when shelling from Pakistani side resumed sending the men scurrying for cover. This time firing was much more intense and shells were landing all over the place. All out of ammunition, Indian artillery men on peak could only watch helplessly as they saw their comrades huddled in trenches and bunkers. Subhranjan immediately grabbed the radio handset and requested fire support. By this time, Indians had managed to setup the fire locating radar and were analysing the flight path of shells to plot the exact location of Paki guns. â€œThree minutes for fire support. Stand by.â€ Came the answer on radio. â€œWe don't have three minutes. Hurry up! Hurry up!â€ Subhranjan thought with quiet desperation as one shell landed very close to one machine gun bunker on northern side, damaging one of its walls, but thankfully nobody was injured. It seemed like hours but finally he heard the rumble of Indian guns as they fired after tracing Paki gun positions. Indian soldiers on hearing it cheered loudly in spite of being under fire themselves. But much to their disappointment and puzzlement, this time Pakis didn't stop their shelling, neither did they change their target. Another of Paki shells this time landed close to another bunker on eastern side, collapsing part of its walls and roof, injuring the two soldiers inside. Havildar Hariom at once jumped out of his cover and started administering first aid to the wounded soldiers. Two other soldiers came to help and carried their wounded comrades to comparative safety away from the damaged bunker. By this time, Indian guns were starting to find their mark and Pakis were forced to halt their fire and move their guns after suffering a few causalities themselves. This earned a few minutes of respite for beleaguered defenders, but they could nothing except shaking their heads to stop the buzzing in their ears. Indian artillery guns too stopped firing as they had no way of locating new position of Paki guns until they started firing again. â€œWhat's going on down there with Pakis? Any luck?â€ Subhranjan asked one of the soldiers keeping watch against Paki infantry attacks. Tearing his eyes off the night vision device he shook his head, â€œCan't see any movement. I'm not sure that they'll dare to launch another attack again after the beating they got. Can't see far enough anyway â€œ â€œI wouldn't count on that. Keep looking and don't let your guard down.â€ Subhranjan said and went off to check on wounded. He found them lying in the bunker on almost other side of the peak which usually served as storage. Havildar Hariom was still bandaging one of them when he entered. â€œThey are out of danger but none of them is in condition to fire a gun. Although I've done the best I could, they'll need to be evacuated soon.â€ Subhranjan nodded, â€œI understand. Reinforcements are on their way. They'll be here soon and we can evacuate them then.â€ â€œThey better hurry sir. I don't know whether we'll be able to survive another attack.â€ â€œKeep faith HariOm.â€ Subhranjan smiled grimly and went out to check his defences again. The loss of one bunker, each on the north and west sides, had weakened his position considerably against a determined infantry assault. He ordered one INSAS LMG to be taken out of the damaged bunker and placed in the trench covered by sandbags just beside it. He placed two more riflemen around it to prevent flanking attacks. His artillery crews had picked up INSAS assault rifles and were acting as riflemen now. Indians were just beginning to settle in their defensive positions when Pakis started shelling again, this time from a different position. Indian artillery crews were even quicker this time to start the countering fire. Right about then, Indian guards noticed some movement on both sides of the slope and alerted Subhranjan. He relayed the coordinates of suspected enemy movement Indian artillery crews and they in turn let loose a volley of air-burst shells. These shells burst in mid-air and pepper their target below with red hot shrapnel. Subhranjan wanted to use as much artillery support as possible before the enemy came too close for Indian artillery to target. By then, they'd come in range of Indian mortars but there was not enough ammunition left. There was another positive sighting of enemy troops, this time on northern side. One of the guns again changed its target and this time fired on northern side. Pakistanis by this time had started to fire smoke rounds from their mortars to hide themselves. Even though it was not a foolproof solution against thermal detectors, it still gave them enough breathing space to hide their exact location. Taking cover behind large rocks and ledges Paki infantry started inching towards Indian position for the second time in two hours. Subhranjan watched the developing situation with increasing concern. His first priority was to stop Paki mortars from coming within firing range. Although Indians had the advantage of increased range due to altitude advantage, there were not enough of them. Indian 155mm didn't have a good firing solution on the mountain slope. To make conditions worse, the enemy was hiding behind rocks, smoke and fog. Visibility was getting worse with every minute and soon his men would be unable to see anything without NV. In pure desperation, he picked up his rifle and a binocular with thermal sights and asked Lance Naik Joginder to accompany him with radio. Right in front of his amazed soldiers and in face of artillery shells pounding all around them, the two men got out of the bunker and started running towards the advancing enemy. Using whatever cover they could find, the two men started moving cautiously downwards. Keeping his eyes glued to the thermal sight Subhranjan was in lead while the other man followed him. They advanced 10-12 metres after which they stopped and scanned the area around them for enemy and again repeated the process. They had traveled this way for little less than a km when Subhranjan observed a platoon of enemy soldiers racing upwards almost at the foothills of the mountain. He grabbed hold of the radio and relayed the enemy's coordinates to his mortar crews. Within seconds they responded with a volley of rounds that killed most of the enemy soldiers who were caught in the open. Alerted by the attack, another group of enemy soldiers broke their cover behind which they were hiding and turned back. Subhranjan observed them fleeing and was tempted to drop a couple of mortar rounds on them but wisely restrained himself. â€œThere must be more enemy around I should save for.â€ he told himself. Changing his direction towards another likely enemy approach place, he started scanning the area again. He again found some enemy soldiers advancing, but this time dispersed over a much larger area. He again relayed the coordinates to his mortar crews. Resulting fire was not enough to wipe out whole group. A few survivors took cover behind rocks in comparative safety. Somehow they managed to setup a mortar and started firing back. But the weapon was too short-legged to reach Indian positions. â€œYes. Keep wasting ammo firing at the enemy you can't even see, let alone reach. Bloody moron.â€ Subhranjan muttered. â€œGood for us. Heh.â€ Joginer chipped in. Probably drawn by the sound of their own men firing, the fleeing Paki group had turned back and started towards the lone Paki mortar firing at the Indians. Subhranjan waited for them to reach closer and ordered his men to fire again. This time, all the survivors from 2nd part were wiped out as one Indian mortar round landed right on top of the Paki position. Another round landed very close to their comrades group running towards them. Contrary to common sense, they were running in close to each other and only two men survived unhurt. Both of which immediately turned on their heels and ran back again. â€œI wonder what their CO will say to that. â€œ Subhranjan quipped. â€œAward a Hila-Le-Bakistan, maybe? Joginder replied. Subhranjan could see his teeth in dark even without the night vision goggles as he grinned from ear to ea Subhranjan took the radio again and inquired about ammunition status. As he had guessed, there were only two mortar rounds left. He ordered all except one mortar crew to abandon their positions and take up defensive positions with rifles around the perimeter. â€œWhat are we going to do sir?â€ Joginder asked tentatively. He was impressed by the intelligence and bravery shown by the young, inexperienced Lt and his respect for him had grown manifold in the last hour. â€œWell, we wait here as long it's needed.â€ Subhranjan replied scanning the slope in front of him. â€œI wonder how long that'll be.â€ Joginder thought to himself but kept quiet. As if guessing his question, Subhranjan added, â€œAs soon as our reinforcements arrive or it becomes too dangerous for us to stay here.â€ Lying prone on their stomachs, they waited for enemy to come again. By this time, artillery fire from Paki side had reduced considerably. Indian counter-artillery fire had crippled many of their guns and the surviving guns had to be moved around to prevent them from meeting the same fate. Still an odd shell continued to streak in, but without much accuracy. Both men waiting on the slope prayed to be spared of a lucky strike. They were both lying almost in open with little to protect them if shells landed anywhere near them. So far they had been lucky. They had been waiting for twenty minutes when Joginder thought that he saw some movement. He zoomed in as much as the sights allowed and sure enough there was a large formation of Paki soldiers moving towards their position. They had learnt from their mistakes and were spread over a large distance. He cursed them under his breath and handed over the night vision goggles to Subhranjan. Although the enemy was out of range of Indian mortars, they could still be targeted by 155mm guns. He contacted Base 1 and asked for artillery fire. He knew he had to use up as much as support as possible before Paki soldiers came too close to target with the big guns. Artillery crew took 2 minutes to adjust their targets and fired air-burst shells over coordinates provided by Subhranjan. Instead of taking cover or retreating, paki soldiers this time ran towards source of fire. "I guess they know for sure that our big guns can't fire if they come closer." Joginder remarked. "Yes. I hope that our artillery takes out most of them before they pass that point." "Me too. Though fat chance of that happening" Although they took some causalities, Paki soldiers sprinted fast enough to pass the kill zone with five minutes. Now defence of peak lay solely on shoulders of Indians manning the peak. "What now sir? Mortars?" Joginder asked in a worried voice as he observed Pakis running up the slope from both faces. This time they were using cover much more effectively, dodging and sprinting between rocks and ledges making them a difficult target "We don't have any other option left. I'll direct those last mortars on Pakis coming from east. Take positions towards left of this group and pick off as many of them as you can with your rifle. I'll do the same from here. Retreat to our post if they come too close or if they have a fix on your position." â€œWhat about the other group on the north?â€ â€œI guess we'll have to deal with them later. Now hurry.â€ Joginder nodded and crawled towards the place pointed out by Subhranjan. He took cover behind a group of rocks and waited. Subhranjan ordered his mortar crew to standby and be ready to fire on his mark. He too took up a firing position and waited till the Paki group came right where he wanted. When they reached there, he carefully took aim and fired. Although he missed hitting anyone, sound of the shot caused everyone in the group to duck and take cover. As soon as it happened he ordered his mortar crew to fire off last of their mortars which they did with deadly accuracy. Even with most of them hiding behind rocks and ledges, two high explosive mortar rounds killed two and injured another three. Realising their folly, Pakis immediately got up and resumed their ascent again. Both Subharanjan and Joginder opened fire as soon as they got up causing much confusion in Paki ranks. At first no one realised where the fire was coming from and they started firing blindly but they soon got a fix on the position and started to return fire. But it was not before they had lost another three men. At this time, Joginder noted another group of Paki soldiers moving coming towards their direction and he relayed the information to Subhranjan. Both men stopped firing and started running back towards the relative safety of their post followed by Paki invaders almost snapping at their heels. They took cover inside a trench lined by sandbags and started updating rest of the defenders with whatever intelligence they had gathered about the attackers. Subhranjan ordered every man to take good cover and put his eyes on the gun sights. Nobody was to fire until the enemy was well within the range and devoid of any benefit of cover. Indian soldiers checked their weapons for one last time and braced for the attack. Machine gun post on the east was first one to report a visual on approaching Pakis, but they were still too far to be targeted accurately. Just a minute later, another soldier who had taken cover besides the damaged bunker in north reported visual contact on his side. Pakistanis were trying to sneak up by hiding their approach with smoke grenades and were almost successful except for the fact that there were a fair number of night vision devices with the defenders. Another proof of how close the enemy was came when one of the Paki soldiers fired a rifle grenade in general direction of the Indian post. The projectile fell well short of Indian position and exploded harmlessly. Although jittery and highly strung, Indian soldiers kept their nerve and held fire. â€œSneaky assholes! Want a fix on our positions and arc of fire before committing to an attack. Pretty clever for a bunch of Pakis.â€ Joginder instructed rest of soldiers through the comm. radio, â€œLet them come closer. Hit them with all you've got when you can see their eyes. Don't let the Pakis bringing up the rear escape either.â€ Another rifle grenade was fired which again failed to reach anywhere near the post. â€œSteady. Steady. Don't let these monkeys bother you like that.â€ he hissed again, waiting for Pakis to come closer. Fingers on triggers twitched nervously as the soldiers on both sides waited. Indian defenders had the advantage of higher positions and better cover while Pakistanis had numerical superiority. Both sides were trying to make the best of what they had and neither wanted to reveal their cards too early. For Pakis, firing rifle grenades was a way to get a fix on Indian positions and once found then find a path to either bypass those positions or to neutralise them. But Indians had refused to oblige and now Pakistanis had no choice except an all out frontal attack. Causalities would be high but that was unavoidable anyway.