1971: The Untold Story Of 4 Young Indians Who Hit Pakistan's Airbase 50Years Ago

It has been more than a week and Indians have been mourning the loss at Pulwana. But, finally, India gave it back to Pakistanis who are res...

It has been more than a week and Indians have been mourning the loss at Pulwana. But, finally, India gave it back to Pakistanis who are responsible for the terrific act. Today's surgical air strikes on the camp at Balakot deep inside Pakistan is unprecedented because it is the first time Indian Air Force (IAF) has penetrated so deep into Pakistani territory in a peacetime operation.



IAF jets crossed the LoC (Line of Actual Control), the entire Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), and then hit the target inside Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Another daring raid inside Pakistani territory was carried out by the IAF during the Bangladesh war in 1971. Though it can't be called a surgical strike, the 1971 raid was an equally bold operation by four young Indian fighter pilots who penetrated into the enemy airspace. They were tasked to hit the enemy planes parked at Murid airbase in Pakistan.

Earlier, on December 8, 1971, Squadron Leader RN Bharadwaj, Flying Officer VK Heble, Flying Officer BC Karambaya, and Flight Lieutenant AL Deoskar flew Hunter jets to the Murid airbase located 120 kilometers inside Pakistan.  "We were a four-aircraft formation. Aircraft 1 and 2 went ahead on schedule. 3 and 4 were asked to delay their attack by a minute and a half. There was a lot of ack fire in the sky. We broke radio silence and the lead aircraft told me 'I just clobbered a four-engine aircraft in the pen," BC Karambaya, who won a Vir Chakra in 1971 and retired several years later as a Wing Commander, was quoted as saying in an NDTV report.



"There was black all around. I saw what I thought were MiG-19s [infact, the Chinese F-6, a copy of the Russian MiG-19] in a blast pen. Deoskar spotted another. I fired a small burst - a refueling bowser caught fire. I kept on firing and was at a height of only 300 feet and the aircraft started rocking - I had clearly been hit by ack fire. I said, 'I am ejecting.' As I was about to pull the handle [to eject], I realized I didn't want to become a prisoner of war.

I kept flying low and then I saw the whole front right part of the wing and fuel tanks had been blown away but somehow the aircraft kept flying. There was very violent rocking. I just maintained my height and crossed the Indus and Sutlej into Indian territory," he said.

As per the sources, what Karambaya or the other pilots in the attack on Murid didn't know at the time was that they had just participated in perhaps the greatest offensive counter-air operation in the history of the IAF, the success of which has been highlighted in a new book 47 years after the 1971 war.

Ironically, the official Ministry of Defence commissioned history of the Indian Air Force, published after the 1971 war, makes no claim on the destruction of the Sabres, claims the report.

According to the report, the only reference to the December 8 mission is attributed to a book written by a former Pakistan Army Major General and says, "In two counter-air missions by the IAF, five aircraft were destroyed on the ground at Murid and Chaklala".

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All India Daily: 1971: The Untold Story Of 4 Young Indians Who Hit Pakistan's Airbase 50Years Ago
1971: The Untold Story Of 4 Young Indians Who Hit Pakistan's Airbase 50Years Ago
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