On 7th April 2012, at-least 129 Pakistani Army soldiers died after getting buried under 80 to 100 feet of snow when an avalanche hit their military base in the Gayari sector. The incident occurred at an altitude of over 4500 meters and was the worst avalanche that the Pakistani Army had ever experienced.
The battalion headquarters of the 6th Northern Light Infantry, located 15,000ft in Kashmir’s Gayari district, near the border with India, was hit by an avalanche at around 06:00 local time on 7 April. Although rescue efforts began shortly after news of the avalanche, freezing and strenuous conditions made the hope of rescuing any of those trapped practically impossible.
On 29 May 2012, Pakistan declared that the 129 soldiers and 11 civilians were buried dead.
Was this a natural calamity? Not at all. It was joint operation of DRDO, defence Research and Development Organization and R&AW i.e., Research and Analysis Wing named Operation Whitewash, what was it? “Operation Whitewash” and how India made it successful.
The story begins in 2009. Jawahar Tunnel in Kashmir was closed due to heavy snowfall over the Tunnel. To ensure there is no accident, the BRO or Border Roads Organization is tasked to remove the snow as soon as possible. And DRDO’s Laser Science and Technology Centre is also called to make work even faster.
While BRO and LASTEC were removing snow together, a senior R&AW field officer was also present there. The R&AW officer sees that LASTEC’s tetra vehicles are being used to remove snow and behind the vehicle, a giant artillery gun was installed and on that gun, KALI ( Kilo Ampere Linear Injector ) was written in capital letters. According to Hindu mythology Goddess Kali is Goddess of death and destruction. The Name of the laser was not just a co-incident!
On seeing Kali, the R&AW officer becomes so eager that he has seen such a device for the first time in his life. The R&AW officer starts talking to LASTEC scientists to find out about Kali, the LASTEC scientist tells the officer that the artillery gun-like device on which Kali is written is a laser gun that will be used to remove snow, by bringing small avalanches in the frozen ice on the tunnel.
The R&AW officer is surprised to hear this from the scientists and starts wondering whether this technology can be used in the field of war or whether it could bring small avalanches? could it bring big avalanches?
In this way, the officer tells his seniors about this technique as soon as he comes to Delhi from Kashmir, but his seniors reject that technique as useless, but the R&AW officer does not give up and After conducting research with LASTEC and SAS i.e. snow avalanche study establishment, for many months he prepared a detailed presentation and forwarded to the former R&AW Chief Sanjeev Tripathi.
Sanjeev Tripathi considers this technique and Talks to the former National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan, at that time NSA M.K. Narayanan and R&AW Chief Sanjeev Tripathi were very good friends, so it did not take much time for Sanjeev Tripathi to convince the NSA. After several days of hard work, NSA M.K. Narayanan also persuades the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and thus the project is approved. And NSA MK Narayanan is appointed as the head of the project.
From here The project team is selected from R&AW, DRDO’s LASTEC, Indian Army and Indian Airforce and the project is named Operation Whitewash, at the same time R&AW and SAS officers visit the 20,000 feet Army base of the Indian Army in Siachen, from where the Northern Light Infantry Head Quarters of the Pakistan Army is clearly visible.
The scientist at SAS selected such trigger points by mapping the entire area, so that after the experiment the entire area is buried under snow and Pakistan does not get any evidence. Selecting trigger points and the planning of the entire project was done on paper, but LASTEC scientists had some challenges. The first challenge was to move a KALI gun with more than 10 tons and a generator to power it 20000 feet up in Siachen. And secondly, if KALI was used on the ground, its vibrations and sound could cause the snow surrounding it to collapse and kill all the officers and scientists present near KALI. They also had to deal with the problem of polarization.
Therefore, it is decided that Kali will not be used on the ground but from the air platform and for which RAW’s Aviation Research Wing (ARC), the Indian Army’s two giant plane il-76 will be used.
Both il-76 planes are brought to the ARC’s airbase in the Cattuck where KALI 50000w laser weapon is mounted in those planes. This KALI 50000w laser weapon was several times more powerful than the KALI gun that RAW’s officer saw at Jawahar tunnel.
After placing KALI in both il-76 planes, both these planes are taken and parked at the Sarsawa air force station, where Indian Air Force Garuda commandos are deployed to protect them. An observation team was already present at the Siachen Post of the Indian Army, who were given high altitude training.
The D-day for Operation Whitewash is chosen after everything is done as per the plan 7 April 2012 at 12:00 noon, the afternoon time is chosen for this operation because most of the natural Avalanche in Siachen arrives at noon, But because this operation was to be done from the air platform in the afternoon, technical problems like polarisation and high-precision shooting were coming up, which Bhabha Atomic Research Centre vow to solve.
Scientists studied the project and suggest that this operation should be done in the morning or in the evening according to them, this was the only way for these technical problems. According to scientists of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, all the people of the project change the time of operation to 4:00 in the morning. Now Operation whitewash was to be held on 7 April 2012 at 4:00 am.
Thus on the day of D-Day, both il-76 planes equipped with KALI take flight from Saraswa airbase and take their positions at the coordinates already scheduled in Siachen along with this, an airborne early warning and control system of the Indian Air Force i.e. an AEWACS plane and an il-78 plane for refilling also take positions behind them.
6 Mirage fighter jets and two Sukhoi fighter jets had already started scanning the area around the il-76 plane from 2:00 am for any kind of situation during the operation.
Here a team of scientists from SAS had marked trigger points after analysing the data from satellite data reception centre and 3D terrain visualization centre. All the scientists and officers of RAW and NSA were coordinating among themselves and continuously reaching the progress of Project Progress and Information Project, NSA Mk Narayanan.
As early as four o’clock in the morning of April 7, the kali gun on the iL-76 plane starts laser shooting at 100% precision at trigger points from a height of 30,000 feet sometime later at around 5:40 in the morning the observation team heard sounds of avalanche in Siachen, avalanche had started at Pakistan’s Northern Light Infantry headquarters, which had a speed of 3000 kilometres per hour.
Pakistan Army tries to alert its army personnel on seeing this avalanche but thousands of tons of snow falling at a speed of 3000 km per hour does not give them any chance. In about 10 to 15 minutes, the entire headquarter of the Pakistan Army are buried under 80 to 100 feet thick snow. The Scientists were horrified by Kali’s Tandav. It seemed that goddess kali was herself slaughtering the demons.
According to the Pakistani Army, 124 of his soldiers were killed in it, but according to the Indian Army, more than 130 soldiers of the Pakistani Army were killed in it. According to the Pakistan Army, a layer of 80 feet thick ice had accumulated above the Northern Light Infantry headquarters, which even the biggest digging machines cannot remove.
Operation Whitewash was major destruction for Pakistan’s Northern Light Infantry headquarters in Siachen, which Pakistan will never forget. Since the success of Operation Whitewash, DRDO has developed a small compact model of KALI to the Indian Army, which the Indian Army can use in any war situation.