SOURCE: Tribune News Service
Some of the untold aspects of the India-Pakistan air battles will soon become part of celluloid history. Mumbai-based film-maker Kushal Srivastava has announced a movie on the Golden Arrows – the 17th Squadron of the Indian Air Force.
The Golden Arrows, raised in 1952, has a long history with the crowning glory being the Kargil conflict in May-July 1999. The squadron (now based at Ambala and flying the Rafale jets) was then based at Bathinda and had been called into Srinagar.
The MiG 21 fleet of the squadron moved out of Bathinda on May 18, 1999 and commenced surveillance and combat air patrols on May 21, 1999. The accurate photo reconnaissance missions confirmed the presence of Pakistan-backed intruders on the heights overlooking the Srinagar-Leh highway. Airstrikes commenced on May 26, 1999 at mountain tops in Kargil, Drass and Mushkoh.
“Our war film is based on the bravery and brotherhood of the entire Golden Arrows,” Srivastava told the Tribune over the phone.
The film is dedicated to Squadron Leader Ajay Ahuja, who went beyond the call of duty and was awarded the Vir Chakra, the country’s third highest battle honour.
The Golden Arrows flew the maximum number of reconnaissance and strike missions. The squadron was awarded the coveted ‘Battle Honours’ for its meritorious performance in Kargil code named ‘Operation Safed Sagar’.
This prestigious unit also won the maximum number of honours and awards amongst the Air Force units which participated in Operation Safed Sagar, including a Vir Chakra which was awarded to Sqn Ldr Ajay Ahuja posthumously for his gallantry during the conflict.
Former IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa (retd), who was Commanding the Golden Arrows during the Kargil war, has always seen Squadron Leader Ahuja as a true warrior.
On May 27, 1999, Ahuja had veered his jet to look for Flight Lieutenant K Nachiketa whose jet was shot down. Ahuja’s jet also got shot by the Pakistani’s, he ejected and on the ground was killed by Pakistan Army. Nachiketa had ejected and taken Prisoner of War. He was returned to India a few days later.
Last year on May 27, the 20th anniversary of Squadron Leader Ahuja, Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa paid tribute to him by flying a ‘Missing Man’ formation in a MiG-21.
Srivastava is looking to focus sharply and replicate what the 1990s movie ‘Border’ did for 23 Punjab, a company led by then Major Kuldip Singh Chandpuri which held back Pakistani Army ground attack at Laungewala in Rajasthan.