Commemorating Mother India’s Bravehearts.
26th July 2021 marks the 22nd anniversary of Kargil Vijay Diwas. India observes Kargil Vijay Diwas annually to honour the exemplary display of true bravery, and most importantly, the ultimate sacrifices made by soldiers in the 1999 war.
The war took place between May and July of 1999 in Kargil district of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir. The Indian Army victoriously recaptured all the Indian posts in Kargil that had been secretly invaded by Pakistan’s army. The then Pak army chief General Pervez Musharraf is understood to have orchestrated the battle by circumventing the then Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The infiltration of both Pakistani troops and terrorists into Indian territory was the spark that inflamed the prompt, aggressive response by India. The invaders positioned themselves in crucial locations to get a strategic advantage in the cowardly planned conflict. The Indian armed forces ascertained the points of intrusion and launched “Operation Vijay” based on intel from local shepherds. The fearless Indian soldiers ably assisted by the Artillery and Indian Air Force fought legendary battles in Kargil, Dras, Kaksar, Batalik and Turtuk Sectors. In the 60-day long war, 527 valiant Indian defence personnel made the supreme sacrifice in the line of duty with the sole intent of guaranteeing the territorial integrity and pride of our glorious nation. India ultimately won the battle by fighting in the most uninhabitable of terrains, thus reacquiring control of all the intruder held territory, and positively re-establishing the status quo ante.
On this Kargil Vijay Diwas, we revisit some of the many prominent war heroes that India will eternally take immense pride in:
Captain Vikram Batra
Conferred India’s highest wartime gallantry award, the Param Vir Chakra, posthumously, Captain Vikram Batra was born on September 9, 1974, in Himachal Pradesh. He joined the military in 1997 with the 13th battalion of the Jammu and Kashmir Rifles of the Indian Army. Captain Batra was directed to join the troops in the Dras sector of Jammu and Kashmir during the 1999 war. “Chanakya …it’s Shershah reporting!! We’ve captured the post! Yeh Dil Maange More!” Batra apprised his Commanding Officer after conquering Point 5140 (Tiger Hill) on June 20. Remembered fondly as the ‘Shershah of Kargil‘, ‘Tiger of Drass‘, and ‘Lion of Kargil‘, Captain Batra was martyred on July 7, 1999, aged 24 in another operation in the range of Point 4875. Spurred by his valour, his troops, however, battled gallantly and seized Point 4875.
Captain Manoj Kumar Pandey
Captain Manoj Kumar Pandey (25 June 1975 – 3 July 1999) was an Indian Army officer of 1/11 Gorkha Rifles. Acknowledging his fearless courage and leadership during the Kargil War, he was posthumously awarded the highest Indian wartime military honour, Param Vir Chakra. Captain Pandey graduated from NDA in the 90th course and later joined the Gorkha Rifles. Answering a question during his Services Selection Board interview, he had responded that he aspired to join the Army to win the PVC, and he did fulfil his ambition. He made his ultimate sacrifice in the raid on Jubar Top, Khalubar Hills in Batalik Sector, Kargil, a particularly vital point in the war. He showed exceptional courage while he charged on the enemy and invigorated his troops to exhibit bravery too. He killed two enemy soldiers in hand-to-hand warfare and advanced on to conquer the point. “Na chhodnu” (Don’t spare them) were his final words.
Naib Subedar Yogendra Singh Yadav
“It is your nation, your colleagues who are fighting alongside you that keep you going. Our concern at that time remains that our country and its citizens should be safe and secure irrespective of whether we survive or not.”
Naib Subedar Yogendra Singh Yadav (then a Grenadier) was selected for the 18 Grenadiers nearly twenty years back and was just 19-year-old when he encountered the Kargil war in 1999. He was the youngest person ever to be conferred the Param Vir Chakra. He was a constituent of the Ghatak platoon that regained three strategic bunkers on the Tiger Hill, on July 4, 1999. He was the sole survivor of the operation on Tiger Hill, in which he took 15 bullets. Notwithstanding his injuries, he reached the peak and executed 4 Pakistani soldiers among many more and further neutralized fire.
Subedar Sanjay Kumar
Then a Rifleman, Subedar Sanjay Kumar was born in a small village in Bilaspur District of Himachal Pradesh. During the Kargil War of 1999, he was with the 13th Battalion, Jammu & Kashmir Rifles and was tasked to seize the Area Flat Top. He had volunteered to be the leading scout man. Having ascended the cliff, the team was pinned down by machine-gun fire from an enemy bunker. Kumar stormed at them head-on and was shot in the leg and hip. But he single-handedly wiped out a bunker after others from his unit had fallen. He is the youngest of the three living Param Vir Chakra awardee soldiers of the Indian Army.
Colonel Balwan Singh Panghal
A lieutenant during the Kargil War, Colonel Balwan Singh was awarded the Maha Vir Chakra, nation’s second-highest wartime gallantry award. Belonging to the 18th Battalion of Grenadiers Regiment, Col Singh, the ‘Tiger of Tiger Hill’, was tasked with the recapture of Tiger Hill, one of the crucial battles of the Kargil war. He and his platoon played a principal role in reinstating Indian dominion in the region, where the enemy was maintaining tight surveillance on all movements of the Indian forces and was inflicting damage.
Source(s): Indian Army, India Today, The Indian Express
Gaurav Chakraborty is a student pursuing Economics from Jamia Millia Islamia.
Edited by: Umar Farooque Shaikh