The Sniper

This incident took place in North Kashmir in a small village. The army had been notified about suspicious activity in that village, where a group of 8 cowardly terrorists had holed up in a hut after taking the family hostage.

Our Army troops insulated the hut from all sides and struck with their usual precision. The crossfire continued for several hours. The very fact that the insurgents had to be gunned down without harming the hostages made the operation all the more difficult. After about almost 12 hours of combat, all the insurgents had fallen, but one. This last punk using a little kid as a human shield was not willing to give up. Several attempts to gun that worm down failed since killing the b****** may have hurt the innocent kid. That’s when the Army played its contingency card.

Three elite snipers were brought in. They strategically concealed themselves around the house and marked that bugger but could not blow him away due to the child. So started the game of cat and mouse. Test of patience, tenacity and utter stillness. That’s sniper art, uncomfortable positions, no food, no water, nothing but total focus. He tested. They got tested. To their limits, unwilling to give up. The deadlock continued for 22 incredible hours.

Finally, in the wee hours of the morning, the hostile broke and stretched out his leg. That momentary loss of concentration gave him his one way ticket. Zipping through dawn’s cold light just a single sniper round blew his brains away. The last one had fallen.

As soon as the job was done, the snipers melted away as silently as they came. The little kid probably never got to know who saved his life. They never made it known. They do not seek any publicity or attention. They lay still for 22 grueling hours with nary a complaint nor a sigh. That is pure art at its best. Strangely, the one does not hear such stories of valour or heroism.

How Sonam Post got its name

The Story of Sonam Post

Sonam Post, the site where 10 valiant soldiers lost their lives in an avalanche has been thrust in the national limelight. Let me share how the post got its name from a simple unassuming non-commissioned officer (NCO) who first occupied it in a break-neck race with the Pakistani soldiers way back in 1984.

The High Altitude Warfare School (HAWS) tasked a team to occupy Siachen Glacier (Saltoro Ridge) in 1984. They were given no time to prepare as the Pakistani Special Forces were already heading to occupy it. It was a race against time and weather.

Volunteer young officers were selected under high risk mission.They were tasked to lead detachments of troops from Ladakh Scouts, Kumaon Regiment and Special Forces to occupy the crucial positions. They had limited equipment. Troops started moving and beat the Pakistani Army by a mere three days and in spite of a long arduous route the gritty young officers led the troops to the highest battle ground on earth.

Havildar Sonam was part of a patrol that had an officer as the patrol leader. While approaching the given location the patrol leader fell into a crevasse and injured himself badly. The patrol were ordered to split and one party should evacuate the officer and second under Havildar Sonam to continue mission completion. Sonam, a Ladakhi soldier led from the front and reached the location. He and his small band had just a few snow tents which were useless against the blistering winds that swooped around. He ordered his men to dig tunnels beneath the ice to protect from the wind chill factor. They were detected and came under heavy artillery firing by the enemy. The tunnels saved them.

Though he could not see from where the enemy fire was coming, Sonam realized that he had to retaliate. He along with another colleague climbed to a vantage point from where he could see the oncoming enemy fire. That evening in his radio report he requested to engage the enemy artillery fire. The NCO had not controlled artillery fire earlier and through his ingenuity was able to successfully engage the enemy position.

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Sonam and his men remained at the post for over six months without relief, since whenever they would attempt to move the enemy would fire at them. But the intrepid soldiers remained there uncomplainingly, undergoing hardships. When his superior asked him about the grid reference location during his reports, Sonam confided hat he had no clue. The superior joked with him on the radio set and told him, “Sonam I’m not worried if you’re taken prisoner, you can reveal nothing, as you know nothing! He also told him – whenever you give report you will say Sonam Post all OK”. And that is how Sonam post got its name.

A few years later Sonam was posted at HAWS as administrative NCO in charge of the student officers’ mess. Every month there would be losses since Sonam knew nothing about managing a mess, accounting or budgeting. Fed up with the losses he was reported to the Commandant. When Sonam entered, the Brigadier got up from his chair and hugged him like a long lost friend. (He was the same superior of the 1984 episode). The NCO didn’t utter a word but for his moist eyes.

That evening the Commandant shared these stories with the student officers and introduced the unknown hero. Every student officer rose after the introduction and came forward to shake hands with a true soldier. Often the young officers would surround Sonam and hear his experience of Siachen. He would often say, “Sahib, Lama Guru ke Land main Gama nahin banna”. Later a portrait (dressed in full mountain gear) was put up in the officers’ mess.When the ceremony was organized the entire staff and officers were present. And there was this small stocky man, receiving perhaps the only recognition for his achievements.

There are so many Sonams, who have done their duty selflessly at these forbidding heights. Simple men soldiering on selflessly in unimaginable hardships. Perhaps the avalanche that swamped Sonam Post helped rouse the national consciousness of the conditions our soldiers undergo to preserve the national integrity. This is a small tribute to them.


Are YOU safe? Tip # 81


As a women/ girl in India, do you feel safe? If the answer is No, (which 83% of you responded), what are we doing about it? For the men/ boys – if your mother/ sister is not safe today, just think 7 years down the line, it’ll be your daughter. It is high time we look at it as a malaise and address it as THE most serious issue which we need to address as an individual and nation.

“Zindagi mein ek aisa junoon rakho, jiske lie apni jaan dene ke lie taiyaar ho!!!”. Generally, whenever we discuss women safety, we think first about the law, not because we are law-abiding but because we repose primary responsibility for women’s safety in the hands of the state. We also see laws as expressing a larger consensus (which may or may not exist in reality) that certain kinds of behaviour are unacceptable to this society. When laws have not worked as we imagined they would, we assume it is because they were not properly implemented. The police are corrupt, we say, and the judicial system takes too long. When violence against women occurs, it’s because someone else failed—the police, the courts, the law and order apparatus, governance, politicians.

How many times have we asked ourselves, what have we done about it? Really, apne garebaan mein jhanko! Look within, and ask yourself, have you seen some road side romeo acting ungentlemanly and you turned away! How many times? You heard someone making a crude comment and YOU raised your voice? How many times? You received a risque message and you forwarded it! How many times? You went and saw ‘munni badnaam hui’ and inadvertently perpetuated promiscuity in society. How many times? You watched a ‘Kya kool hain hum’ or ‘Grand Masti’ and under the garb of adult comedy, the perpetrators have debased women. Come on .. understand, it is basic economics; a case of demand and supply. You demand a ‘munni badnaam’ and they supply. Inadvertently you are promoting promiscuity. Now, what do you do about it? Its fun, I know but but but … now, especially now, when things have gone a bit too far; Let us rise as a nation and do our bit to stem this tide, bring around an awareness and raise our voice.1594

We can make this a safer society for half the nation .. if only, if only you do your bit. It starts from our homes, our thinking and our actions. It has been too long that we have passed the buck and onus to the government … For a change, Let US do something. Blaming the government, police and women, we will never eliminate the threat of violence against women (and others). By seeking and designating safe havens here and there, we force women to trade freedom for safety, citizenship for protection. But by owning and taking responsibility for a violence-free world, we start building the world in which we would like to live and we would like our children to inherit and like our daughters to breathe free.

Be Aware . Be Alert . Be Safe .


Are YOU engaged?


The biggest mistake that you can make is to believe that you are working for somebody else … The driving force of a career must come from the individual. Remember: Jobs are owned by the company, you own your career!

– Earl Nightingale, Motivational Speaker 

A number of YOU are engaged in your daily grind; some pursuing studies and some in the workforce. But very many of you are still grappling with the idea about your future; not because you don’t know what you want to do! To the contrary, you are unsure whether this is what you want to do the rest of your life. Is this your passion? Will this pull you to office every Monday or will it be a ‘Mourn’day! One of the students even went on to say, “Sir, I’ve so many passions, I love to do so many things. How will I know what is my ‘true’ passion?”

So how do you know what is your true Passion? What is your true calling? Your true purpose! Believe me, when I say, YOU are here for a reason … Find the WHY? And the What and How will follow.

So how do you know what you are doing is indeed your calling? Five easy steps to find whether this will ENGAGE you.

  • Does it engage you? The first sign of engagement comes when there is a twinkle in your eye, and a bounce in your steps just thinking of the kind of work you are doing. YOU love to associate with your kind. You eagerly go out of your way to engage with leaders/ pioneers in this field, seek out like-minded people and love talking/ discussing about it. You read about it in various, magazines/ journals – seek more information!
  • Does it take you to a new peak? Do you see yourself rising in this field? Is it associated with fame, power or both? Or are you doing something which no one has done before? All these help you push the envelope. It also challenges you to do new things, follow your heart and tread a new path. Some of us fear this path, as it’s a “Road less Traveled”.
  • Do you often look at your clock while working? Or are you so engrossed in the thing that you are doing that time seems to fly by. You don’t even have time to look up towards the watch face, don’t check ‘time’ and meeting deadlines seem ‘good’ and it excites you. There is no stress in doing things that you love to do. Ever read a very interesting book and time seems to have just flown by and you hear your mom, somewhere in the distance, shouting your name out to join her for the meal?
  • You are ‘fully charged’ when you are doing what you are doing? Oft said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”. Your love for the job will drive you to excel and everybody recognises excellence! You don’t fear to be dumped as your output will always surprise your stakeholders. You’ll be fearless and your passion will take your feet to office every single day and no more will you be doing just a job!

Remember, Sunscreen (Buz Luhrman), some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know are still searching. So go ahead and live your life, a life with no regrets and remember YOU are writing YOUr own story. In the evening of your life, YOU need to share YOUr story – go and make it interesting.