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Know how this ‘Vikas’ battalion checkmated China in Ladakh

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Sept. 3, 2020, 4:07 p.m.

Asif Suhaf, Ladakh, Sept 3: As Tibetan-origin soldier with Indian Special Forces (SSF) was killed in a clash with China along the LAC on the night August 29, the secretive force of the Indian Army’s long history of fighting and valor has come to fore.

The SSF has served during selective and highly sensitive military operations such as Operation Eagle in Chittagong Hills in the 1971 India-Pakistan war. It took part in the operation blue star in Golden Temple in 1984. In the same year, the SSF took part in the operation Megdhoot to conquer the heights of Siachen. In 1999, the SSF participated in the operation Vijay during the Kargil war. There are several other secretive operations too in which the SSF has taken part but they are classified. 

Also referred to as Vikas Battalion, the force on August 29 clash has been instrumental in occupying some key heights on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China in Ladakh to thwart any occupation by the Chinese troops. In the current operation on August 29, the SSF controlled two points, having immense strategic importance. Sources say the two areas taken control over by the SSF are those very areas which weren’t under Indian control “since we lost them in the 1962 war to China.”

The SSF operation checkmated the People’s Liberation Army, which had tried to occupy these areas. 

According to the sources, the force has seven battalions comprising 5000 soldiers and they are stationed only in the cold desert Ladakh.

The SFF was raised soon after the arrival of tibatian spiritual leader Dalai Lama and this force took shape just before 1962 China-India war.

Initially, the SSF would be of only Tibetan exiles and it went by the name of Establishment 22 as it was raised by Major General Sujan Singh Uban, who was an Artillery officer and had commanded 22 Mountain Regiment. The Major General named the new covert group after his regiment and called it as Establishment 22. Later, the Establishment 22 was renamed as Special Frontier Force.

It is headed by an Inspector General who is an Army officer of the rank of Major General. Former Chief of Army Staff, General Dalbir Singh had once held the office of inspector general at the SSF. The force draws officers from the Indian army and it now mix of Tibetan exiles and Gurkas. “It has its own uniform and also aircrafts carriers.”

Being not part of the Army in strict terms, the SSF over the years has served in several overt and covert operations and present operation Quid Pro Quo is latest in its long list of the operations.

The operation ‘Quid Pro Quo’, or QPQ involves the Indian army’s response to a PLA intrusion across the LAC by moving into two sectors and occupying territory, which India had lost in 1962.

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