The 43-year-old Western Air Command chief, Pranab Kumar Barbora, was bent on breaking an important rule of the Air Force. They had not taken any written authorization of the flight they were going to do. Because New Delhi had previously rejected similar operations 5 times.
A few days ago, Barbora went to meet the then Air Chief Marshal, Fali Homi Major, and Army Chief Deepak Kapoor at the Air Force Golf Club in Delhi.
Pranab Kumar Barbora: Sir, at least speak ‘yes’.
Fali Homi: This is a very risky operation, Air Marshal
Deepak Kapoor: And understand this, if anything happens you will be responsible for this.
But Barbora had already taken precaution.
Pranab Kumar Barbora: Sir, we have checked the runway, we feel it strong.
With that assurance, on the morning of that May, 5 members of the Team: three Air Force pilots, a navigator, and a gunman, embarked on their dangerous mission. All of them were sure that they would return successfully.
Their mission is to activate the world’s highest landing ground, Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) airstrip, 16614 feet above sea level. As he flew his twin-engine AN- 32 aircraft, he was well aware that his plane should not have flown above 14000 feet.
Take-off again was more dangerous than landing there. What if after flying off the raw runway, an engine caught fire? Anything could have happened.
IMPORTANCE OF DBO
The location of DBO is very important for India. First of all, it is the northernmost post of India near LAC. On the right of which is the area of Aksai China, on the left the Siachen Glacier, Pakistan occupid Kashmir and the area which Pakistan handed over to China. And is located just a few kilometers away, the famous Karakoram Pass. Which has been connecting the east and the west with the route called “Silk Route” since the second century BC. DBO was always a destination for travelers and businessmen from India and Central Asia. Where they can stop and rest in the midst of their journey. Daulat Beg Oldi means ‘Daulat Beg Died’, named after a man from Yarkand, China … present-day Xinjiang. During his journey in the Karakoram, he died of misfortune.
Since the late 1950s, the Indian Army and the Indo-Tibet Sima Police (ITBP) have been stationed at Olde. Facing difficult conditions, thin tents, crafty cold, and neither means of proper communication nor a paved road. Often they had to travel for 3-4 days by mud lanes, keeping goods on the donkeys; When the flood of the Shyok River submerged the normal path. The nearest village is to the south, the Murgo, where the Balti lives, which are originally from Gilgit-Baltistan, but whose population is widespread in Central Asia and dependent on yak farming and apricot farming.
A few months before the 1962 Indo-China war, Engineers of the Indian Army built the Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) at DBO; So that he can keep an eye on the Chinese occupation in ‘Aksai Chin’. However, the landing strip could not be used much because the only airplane, the C-82 packet which was enabled by the third engine to reach such a height, was retired in 1965. It was here that Air Marshal Barbora successfully landed his aircraft at exactly 9 am on 31 May 2008. It was only after this that the Minister of Defense, AK Antony, was informed.
Earlier, when India, Jammu & Kashmir and Pakistan were busy in their internal conflicts along the border, China occupied Aksai Chin and strengthened its border infrastructure. But when India wanted to do so, in April-May 2013, China wanted to capture the Depsang of Daulat Beg Oldi sector. When the People’s Liberation Army of China entered 19 km into Indian territory and started military exercises, it resulted in 21 days of confrontation. They wanted to intimidate India from infiltration so that we would stop building our 255 km long DSDBO highway, which was running almost parallel to the LAC. The highway consists of 37 bridges, which cross many rivers and creeks above. And that reduces the travel time from Leh to Aksai Chin and Karakoram Pass from 2 days to 6 hours.
IMPORTANCE OF DSDBO ROAD
DSDBO Roads will enable India to monitor all these things. The view of the Hasan Abdal Highway, which connects the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to Kashgar; Shaksgam Valley; 5180 Sq. Km The Indian part of PoK, which Pakistan gave to China in 1963 as well as the Siachen Glacier. By this route, Indian soldiers will now be able to reach Leh from other directions, which till now could only be done from Srinagar. Pakistan wanted to take this route in the Kargil war so that it would cut India’s only entry into the Ladakh region.
This will help keep an eye on China’s troubled Xinjiang province. But what is most appreciated is of course strategic importance. 1400 feet wonderfully tall, Colonel Chewang Rinchen Bridge, over the Shyok River, built at an altitude of 14650 feet. This 14.5-meter wide bridge can carry vehicles up to 70 tonnes. So that Indian soldiers will be able to reach “Sub Sector North” (SSN) easily. These bridges, “sandwiched” between the Karakoram and Chang Chenmo ranges, are not far from the union of the Shyok and Galvan River, which itself is about 5 km from the Line of Actual Control.
Where the strategic DSDBO road can be monitored from the high summit of Galvan, and because of which China wants to occupy these peaks. The road from Galvan Valley to Shyok in the west is still being built, like many other small routes that will come from DSDBO. While to the east, it gives the strength to reach the Aksai Chin Plateau, through which the Xinjiang-Tibet Highway passes.
Indo-China 1962 War.
Aksai Chin, a dry hill plain that is not even a part of the Himalayas but has been part of Ladakh and British India since the mid 19th century. Although China claims that it has been a part of various ancient and medieval Chinese empires.
In the 1950s, India allowed China to occupy, without interruption, this cold desert flat land that receives neither rain nor snow.
So barren, when Aksai Chin was being debated in the Rajya Sabha on 5 December 1961, then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru: “There does not even grow a straw of grass”, to which Mahavir Tyagi replied, pointing to his bald head, “So you mean I consider it useless too? There is not even a hair here, so should I hand my head over to the enemies?”
Nehru had to withdraw his words and tried to reclaim Aksai Chin as well, which led to the Indo-China 1962 war.
What could be the reason for today’s crisis?
China is now building a new airport and other infrastructure in Tashkurgan, north of the Siachen Glacier and the Karakoram Valley from which CPEC passes. He has an eye for three rivers: the Shyok River, the Galvan River and the Chang Chenmo River, which have plenty of water.
SD Principal: “Sino-Pak is worried that we can now try to take back some of the occupied territories or use this route to disrupt the CPEC.”
Today, the DSDBO highway and the DBO runway increased India’s bargaining power with China, and in any crisis, it can play an important role.
All this was possible when, on the morning of that May, Western Air Command chief, Pranab Kumar Barbora, managed to fly a flight from the DBO runway in 2008. Another aircraft flew with them for support, Thoise ALG; Up to the Advanced Landing Ground, which falls in that area. Since 2013, the four-engined aircraft, the C-130 Hercules, has actively used the airstrip, and now along DSDBO Road, will make operations easier.