IPKF veterans reminisce about their peacekeeping efforts in war-torn Sri Lanka

Members of the 122 Infantry Battalion met for the first time after 33 years. Photo: Special Arrangement

Kozhikode: "My jawans were well-behaved. That's why we were able to come back without any casualty from war-torn Sri Lanka," said Brigadier P V Sahadevan, who is credited for bringing back the Indian Peace Keeping Force warriors from the island nation without any bloodshed.

He recalled the bravery and thrilling services of his fellow soldiers during the first reunion of IPKF members of the 122 Infantry Battalion (Territorial Army), Madras Regiment at West Hill barracks. They were meeting 33 years after Operation Pawan.

They were deployed in Sri Lanka during 1989-90 as part of the peace-making effort in a country torn apart by domestic violence and war. The unit commanded by then Brig. Sahadevan was the only unit of the IPKF that returned home without any casualties.

In 1989, six companies of the battalion, then based at Kannur, were sent to Sri Lanka, under the leadership of Colonel Sahadevan (He later became a Brigadier. He was awarded the Veera Chakra, Vishisht Seva Medal and Athi Vishisht Seva Medal.)

Rtd Brigadier PV Sahadevan at the war memorial, West Hill barracks. Photo: Special Arrangement

"We are proud that none of us lost our lives or had to shed blood during those days in Sri Lanka. It was a period of repeated riots between LTTE and EPRLF. But they were all, including the LTTE men, good to us, as we were well-behaved and helpful. Once LTTE men kidnapped a van and kept the people under their custody. When we requested a man named John, who was a close ally of LTTE leader Prabhakaran, they released the whole team safely. So the Lankan government was thankful to us," Brig. Sahadevan recalled.

Each companies were deployed in different villages as peacekeepers. "We were ready to help the locals to keep them safe," Rtd Subedhar K A Johny from Thrissur told Onmanorama.

"We witnessed the riots and explosions. We used to get intelligence reports regarding the possibility of blasts. In such cases, we passed on this information to responsible officials of other peacekeeping companies who were experts in defusing mines and bombs," he said. "It was Brig. Sahadevan's commanding power led us to serve our neighbouring country excellently," he said.

The 122 Infantry Battalion (Territorial Army), Madras Regiment, was deployed in Sri Lanka during 1989-90 as part of the peace-making effort in a country torn apart by domestic violence and war. Photo: Special Arrangement

Brig. Sahadevan, who planned the meet, inaugurated the OP Pawan Corner, which is intended to create awareness of the Lankan operation among the younger generation,

Major General V D I Devavaram, who led the Madras regiment in wars in Sri Lanka, was the chief guest of the programme. He unveiled the honour stone which has been installed in honour of the IPKF warriors.

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