Forever in Operations: Story of 8 Mountain Division

The Formation sign

Travelling to Kargil and Drass from Srinagar has never been easy. For years since 1999, that is what I have felt despite making at least two dozen trips. Last week was no different. The challenge posed by the might Zozilla, the traffic, the terrain everything is different than one normally encounters.

A glimpse of various operations by 8 Div

Between Monday and Saturday, me and cameraperson colleague Tariq revisited the Kargil-Drass-Batalik sector to make a programme on the 8 Moutain division AOR (Area of Responsibility). Why 8 Mountain Division? 

8 Mountain Div in action

One because I have had an old association with this remarkable formation, raised half a century ago to combat the Naga insurgency. This has been the Indian Army’s “go-to” formation in every major military campaign since the mid-1960s. 

In every crisis, it has been called upon to deliver. In 1971, in the middle of combating a tough Naga insurgency, the Division was called upon to take on the Pakistanis in the 1971 war which it did with great elan and played a major part in India’s greatest military victory.

The magnificent Drass War Memorial

Back in the North-east after the East Pakistan campaign, it took on the responsibility of combating Meitei and Tripura insurgencies in the 1970s and 1980s. When Kashmir erupted in 1989, Army HQ selected the 8 Mountain Division to move to the valley. Again it proved its worth by chalking up major successes in the CI operations between 1990-99. 

In the summer of 1999 Pakistani intruders caught the Indians napping in Kargil-Drass-Mushok-Batalik sectors. Once again, 8 Mountain Division was drafted to evict the  intruders from those impossible heights which it did–at a major cost to lives and limbs of gallant soldiers. Since then 8 Div has been stationed in this area.

While I will be writing a more detailed account of the division whose motto is FOREVER IN OPERATIONS, one fact needs to be mentioned here: 8 Mountain Division has given the Indian Army 3 Chiefs in the past and the next likely Chief has also had the distinction of commanding it! The 3 Chiefs in the past were: Gen KV Krishna Rao, Gen BC Joshi (who is no more) and Gen VP Malik. The next likely chief is Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag, currently India’s Eastern Army Commander. Here’s a small glimpse into the sector.

On the road to Kargil
Crossing the Zozilla is never easy

Morning prayers at Army’s Goodwill school at Kumbathang, the HQ of 8 Div

The Indus before it enters Pakistan

The road to Batalik
BRO road sign
A local woman collecting Apricot on the road!
Only in Drass: Sun peeping out from the clouds
Mohd. Razzak, who gives a scintillating commentrary at the War memorial
One of the high passes in the area

With a filed gun battery at Ganasok
Kargil town, now a flourishing trade centre

The trainees at the Kargil Battle School
A soldier stands guard at Biamah

With soldiers at Gumri, gateway to Zozilla

The formidable Zozilla
Zozilla: Always a challenge to man and machine

  1. July 14, 2013 -

    I am proud to say that my father Lt Gen Mike Lahiri, PVSM commanded this formidable Division just before it was moved to Kashmir. Chandan Lahiri

  2. July 15, 2013 -

    When does this air? And when will it be on the net?