Saga of valour, sacrifice
The Kargil war produced many heroes. PVCs and other battle honours were given to
WaR brings out the stuff that makes legends. Blood-splattered battlefields spew forth awe-inspiring tales of heroism and sacrifice and manís endeavour to win against seemingly insurmountable odds. The Kargil war produced its fair share of war heroes as four Param Vir Chakras and scores of other decorations, citations and battle honours bear testimony. Some have been embellished in military history, while some may have gone unsung.
Among the most memorable faces of the conflict, perhaps, was Capt Vikram Batra, who was among the four decorated with the Param Vir Chakra. Christened Sher Shah by the enemy for having launched several audacious attacks on the intruders, his award, however, was posthumous.
The young officer ó whose slogan from the icy warfront, Yeh dil mange more, became an iconic battle cry that swept across the country ó was then posted with 13 Jammu and Kashmir Rifles, deployed to capture Point 5140 in the Kargil sector from the Pakistani intruders.
On June 20, 1999, Captain Batra, in an audacious move, decided to attack the enemy position from the rear along the sheer cliff face. Undaunted by continuous enemy shelling, the officer along with five men climbed up and hurled two grenades at the enemy.
He was confronted by three enemy soldiers, whom he neutralised, but was himself grievously injured in the process. Despite this, he went back and called forward his men, and having regrouped his forces, led them to the capture of Point 5140. He died soon afterwards. He belonged to Palampur in Himachal Pradesh.
Coming from a humble background in Lucknow, Lt Manoj Kumar Pandey from the First Battalion of the 11th Gorkha Rifles was among the youngest heroes of the war. On the night of July 2, 1999, Lieutenant Pandey led his forces in an attack to secure Khalubar from the intruding Pakistanis.
The young officer raced ahead of his troops and charged at the enemy through a hail of bullets. Wounded in the shoulder and leg, he pressed on his solitary charge till he reached the first bunker, where the enemy engaged him in a hand-to-hand combat. He felled two of the Pakistanis and captured the bunker. The officer then led his men from bunker to bunker, until the last of the enemy was killed.
He collapsed and succumbed to his injuries soon after. His father recalled that Manojís reason for joining the Army was just to get a PVC. The Army Welfare Housing Organisation has named a colony in Indirapuram, Ghaziabad, after him. In the film LOC, Ajay Devgan played the role of Lieutenant Pandey.
The two living recipients of the highest award from this conflict are Grenadier Yogender Singh Yadav of 18 Grenadiers and Rifleman Sanjay Kumar, also from 13 JAK Rifles.
On the night of July 3, 1999, Yogender Singh Yadav was a part of the Ghatak Platoon deployed to capture three enemy bunkers on Tiger Hill. Volunteering to lead the assault, Yogender Singh was scaling the vertical cliff face, when the enemy opened up with automatic fire. In spite of being hit by three bullets, in his groin and shoulder, he continued climbing and reached the top.
Scrambling to his feet, he lobbed a grenade into the first bunker, killing four enemy soldiers. Then he charged at the second bunker with his unit, and in a fierce hand-to-hand combat killed three Pakistani soldiers. Inspired by Yogenderís charge, who was just 19 at that time and had dropped out of school to join the Army, the Grenadiers fought ferociously and captured Tiger Hill.
The story of Rifleman Sanjay Kumar of 13 JAK Rifles is that of an ordinary citizen whom destiny took to dizzying heights. He was a taxi driver before he got into the Army, and perhaps would never have dreamt of combat on top of the world and being decorated with the highest award for bravery.
Then 24, he was the leading scout of the team that advanced to capture area Flat Top on July 4,1999. Having scaled the cliff, the team was pinned down by enemy fire emanating from a bunker, 150 metres away. With complete disregard for his personal safety, Rifleman Kumar crawled up the ledge and charged the bunker.
Hit in his chest and forearm, he continued to charge. After clearing the first bunker he picked up a machine gun from a fallen enemy soldier and charged at the second enemy bunker. Three enemy soldiers were killed on the spot. The objective was finally secured as the enemy, having sustained grievous losses, finally conceded defeat.