Operation Cactus reflects mighty India's military and diplomatic skills

Hyderabad, November 04, 2018. `Operation Cactus', the most difficult India's air-born operation in Maldives, reflects India's military and diplomatic skills and it has showcased India as an emerging Regional Power, observed Group Captain Ashok K Chordia (rtd), who was part of the operation and author of book "Operation Cactus".

Speaking at a Seminar “Operation Cactus: Anatomy of One of India’s Most Daring Military Operations” organised by Social Cause, Hyderabad, to mark the 30th anniversary of the operation and release of the book, Ashok K Chordia said that the decision to launch an airborne operation, more than 2500 kms away in the Maldives was a difficult politico-military choice.

Stating that it was one of courageous military operation in the world history, he said even US, China and Pakistan forces, who were close to Maldives than Indian army, hesitated to take up the task.

The operation was not sleepwalk, unlike many opined said Ashok K Chordia.

Parachutes in those were not as safe as they are today.  Today it is safer to jump from Parachutes than to cross roads in Delhi and Hyderabad. 

Operation Cactus underscores three fundamental issues: One, success of military operations depends on innumerable factors. Two, all such factors cannot possibly align favorably, always. Three, success favors those who dare and act regardless. Operation Cactus was the saga of men determined to achieve ends despite all odds. It proved the prowess of Indian military and diplomacy. And showcased India as an emerging regional power.

He said that Indian army took up this task under most difficult conditions, in a shortest possible time, without maps, with a little intelligence. Recalling that this operation was taken up to defuse a coup attempt in the Maldives by Abdullah Luthufee, a Maldivian businessman against President Abdul Gayoom, who was hiding, he said that it has enhanced India's will power in such acts.

While other major armies took time to decide, within 24 hours Indian troops landed there with concrete action and rescued President Gayoom, even before rebels were to find his location. The advice and the confidence of the military leadership enabled the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to give a `go ahead', he added.

Though Indian troops do not have maps, he said luckily Indian Ambassador of Maldives was in Delhi on leave and he was made to accompany in army flight. For the first time a civilian officer was taken on an operation mission, he said. Referring that how quick they were to act, he said even ammunition distribution and briefing of the plane was done only while going in an air craft.

He said that Indian army has accomplished apparently an impossible operation and could catch all the rebels. When rebels were running away in a merchant ship, he said Indian Navy had diverted INS Godavari, which was returning from Australia tour towards this land so that to chase them and caught them.

Admitting that the operation involved high risk, he said had the rebels could gain control of Male by the time Indian troops reaches them, the rescue operation would be construed as an act of aggression against a sovereign state. Many also commented that such courageous operation may not be needed after the setbacks in Sri Lanka stating that India could ill afford repetition on the Maldives, he added.

However, he said that this operation had played strategically very critical impact as if Maldives was under influence of others that would have worst impact on us. He said that the fact is that the Indians did not sleep walk into the Maldives and the decision was deliberate and sufficiently contemplated-contingencies had been catered.

He observed that Operation Cactus is the saga of men determined to achieve ends despite all odds.

Responding to a question on Surgical Strike whether it was keeping Pak Occupied Kashmir(POK) way from India, Lt. Gen Ramachandra Rao said no and it was not so. Handling POK and Pakistan are different things.

Replying to another question why did India surrender to Terrorist demands, he said media blew matter out of proportion and that put lot of pressure on the  Government that led to what we have witnessed.

Dr Indira Parthasarathy, former principal, Kakatiya Media College, said that the operation has revealed the extraordinary capabilities of our air force and navy. It was technically very challenges one, she added

Lt. Gen K Ramachandra Rao said that the operation has put the nation on world map and our men succeeded under very difficult situation.

Maj Gen K Bapaiah, Wg Cdr Unni Karatha and Social Cause president Dr Somaraju Suseela also spoke.


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