In a modern war, the air force plays an important role. Defeat or victory is determined by the capacity to strike the enemy effectively from the air. Attempts are made to bombard military and industrial installations of the enemy so that his was-machinery may be paralyzed. Such attacks from the air called air-raids. I had frequently heard of the destruction caused in an air-raid. But it was only during the Indo-Pak war of December, 1971, that I had personal experiences of an air-raid.
I live in Agra. Quite close to Agra there is the air-port of kharia. It is an important air-port. It is said that a large number of Migs are kept here. It is form here that effective protection can be provided to Rajasthan which has a long common border with Pakistan. It is from here that our aero planes can easily strike effective blows on Pakistan positions across the border. Kharia air-port has great strategic importance.
It was for this reason that the enemy made this air-port its special target. It was raided every night for full seven nights. The first air-raid was made on the 2nd of December. The siren sounded at about 6p.m. we were sitting at home gossiping idly. At once we knew that it was a danger signal. Instantly, there was completing black out. The entire city was in complete darkness. We had already dug trenches in the courtyard of our house. We took shelter in the trenches. Soon after, we heard the loud report of five or six bomb explosions. A minute later the siren was sounded again. It meant that the enemy planes had gone away, so there was no danger. We came out of the trenches and instantly the lights were on. Next day we knew that the airstrip had been slightly damaged. The army engineers and technicians had worked through the night, and the damage had been repaired. The air-strip was again quite serviceable. No other damage was caused. There was no loss of life.
Next evening, as soon as it was dusk, the siren sounded once again. At once there was complete black out city. This time we did not go to trenches, but remained in the room. Somehow, we felt that the enemy would not be able to cause any harm. We waited in breathless suspense, but did not hear any bomb explosions. The siren sounded again after a few minutes indicating that the danger was over. Next morning we learnt that this time the enemy could not even approach the air-port. It did drop some bombs, but they fell on sand and so did not explode. We all laughed at the enemy, who could be chased away so very easily.
Next evening again the siren sounded at dusk. As usual, there was complete blackout. But by now we had acquired greater confidence in our own air force. There was no fear at all our hearts. So instead of going to the trenches, we went on the roof. We knew that we are acting against all instructions, but we did not care for this. We knew that we were running great risk, but we did not care for this also. A moment later, we saw two aero planes flying just over our head. They were enemy planes. They were followed by a long trail of red flames and sparks. There were also big black balls, which looked almost like black birds. We at once knew that it was the fire from our anti-aircraft guns, which were in full action, and the big balls were the shots fired by them. It was a sight to see. Soon we saw one of the enemy planes catch fire. We clapped our hands and danced with joy. Soon the stricken plane began to lose height and went down in flames.
We all enjoyed the air-raid. It was as if there was a kite-flying competition, and the stricken aero plane was a kite that had been lost. There was no fear in our hearts. The air-raids were repeated for two or three even more and every evening we enjoy the sight. On the 9th of December, some of our migs were thrown into action, and then the air-raids stopped completely.
Such were my experiences during the air-raids, I will never forget them. I have experienced such deep joy.