“Remember us”, even the almighty knows the true value of such heroism, maybe that’s one of the reasons why they were called upon the glorious kingdom atop heavens. To serve respectfully as Gods’ protectors. But who were they before their final posting? Mere humans?
I guess no words can do justice to the acts of valor which are about to unfold. It’s not just a story about men doing their duty, it’s their war cry, a song so powerful that it brings the most stern people to a point where they bow down to pay respects. The only reason why I am penning these lines is that my genesis (and the kids from the same era), coupled with the first year of my life was safe only because “they” sacrificed their lives on the line of duty.
Behold the legends of the 1999 Kargil War:-
Subedar Major Yogendra Singh Yadav(PVC)
Subedar Major Yogendra Singh Yadav participated in a daring mission which involved the capturing of Tiger Hill. Hailing from the unit, 18 Grenadiers, his task was setting up a rope line which would enable the other units in climbing atop the strategic position. However, the welcome wasn’t accompanied with party poppers as the first casualties were the platoon commander and two other brave souls. Sustaining bullet injuries, the Subedar lobbed a grenade inside the first bunker killing 4 Pakistani soldiers immediately.
What followed was a brutal hand to hand combat as Subedar Yogendra Singh Yadav killed the enemies with a pick axe. Both the bunkers were then captured and the remaining units commenced their assault on the higher positions.
This heroic act made Subedar Yogendra recipient of the highest honor, ie. the Param Vir Chakra at a very young age of just 19.
Captain Manoj Kumar Pandey (PVC), Posthumous
On the night of July 3rd 1999, Lieutenant Manoj was clearing the enemy positions and recapturing Khalubar. The terrain wasn’t friendly, and so were the enemies. Devising a tactical response to the tough situation, Lieutenant quickly dispatched a team to attack the enemy position from the right side while joining the second team to do the same from the left.
Heavy small arms fire ensued following the capture of the first enemy position. Lieutenant Manoj killed 2 enemy personnel and charged for the second position, he devastated the second position as well, while charging towards the third position, the officer sustained bullet injuries in his shoulder and legs but refused to stay put.
The final blow to the enemy was delivered via a grenade which destroyed the fourth position as well.
However the fatal blast had injured the officer in the forehead, Lieutenant Manoj succumbed to his wounds but gave the Indian Army a major tactical advantage. He was awarded the Param Vir Chakra posthumously.
Captain Vikram Batra (PVC), Posthumous
War gives every soldier a nick name, something which the enemies remember in their worst nightmares. Captain Vikram Batra, also known as Sher Shah did possibly the hardest mission throughout the war, the capturing of points 5140 and 4875. While being debriefed about the line of attack, the, then Lieutenant, Batra chose the phrase “Yeh dil mange more”, a signal which would blare out on the radio if the mission was a successful one. And it was successful indeed, two companies namely Bravo and Delta attacked point 5140 from the east and south.
Under the cover of artillery fire, both the companies engaged in heavy fire from the enemy positions. Despite being wounded, the radio finally cracked to life and both the companies were heard saying their mission completion code names. Lieutenant Batra was then promoted to the rank of Captain, but there was no time to celebrate as point 4875 required immediate attention as well. The terrain was steep, one wrong step and the company could fall to certain death but with an officer like Vikram Batra, nothing was impossible for the Delta company.
They attacked in daylight which made it even more deadlier than before, a verbal war commenced between Captain Batra and the enemy personnel while taking cover behind a boulder. An angered Captain Btara plunged towards the enemy position and engaged in intense hand to hand combat in which he neutralized the final position, he was seriously injured.
Despite sustaining serious injuries, Captain Batra heard the plight of his junior and rushed into a heavy volley of fire. He grabbed the fallen comrade by the shoulders and began pulling him off the battlefield to a cover, but amidst the heavy volume of fire, Captain Batra got shot many times and the final blow came in the form of an RPG shrapnel. Seeing the officer dying on the battlefield enraged the company so much that they overran the remaining positions and slaughtered the enemy offensive.
For his courage and supreme sacrifice, Captain Vikram Batra gave his company, the victory over point 5140 and point 4875. He earned the Param Vir Chakra for his actions towards the war effort.
Rifleman Sanjay Kumar (PVC)
While the battle for point 4875 was seeing intense action from the 13 JAK Rifles, another part of this battle was the battle for the flat top point 4875, in the Mushkoh valley. Rifleman Sanjay volunteered for a scout patrol who worked in collecting intel on the enemy positions. Upon reaching the terrain, the company saw heavy fire from two enemy positions.
These positions were seen equipped with UMGs (Universal Machine Guns). While the company ducked for cover and awaited further orders, Rifleman Sanjay crawled towards the first position and took the enemy by surprise. He then engaged and killed the occupants of the first enemy position. Despite being wounded, the Rifleman grabbed the UMG left by the fleeing enemy personnel and turned it against their previous users, killing all the fleeing personnel.
Rifleman Sanjay then crawled up to the second enemy position, this time with the captured UMG, he took the enemy by surprise and cleared the second position while his UMG rattled. The most important aspect of this engagement was the fact that Rifleman Sanjay displayed utmost courage and bravery in the face of the enemy and was the only soldier who carried out the clearing of those two strategical positions. He earned the Param Vir Chakra for his actions.
The intense high altitude warfare came to a full stop on 26th July 1999. Operation Vijay was then declared a success. Indian army regained possession of Kargil and nearly 80-90% of the intruders were instantly cleared from the region.
Indian soldiers displaying the supreme dedication and love for the motherland not only encourages the people to do more but it also brings tears to the eyes of every man and woman who comes across the stories of legends like these.
Some of them aren’t alive among us, but their names still remain immortal.
The list of heroes isn’t just limited to the aforementioned names they also include:-
Captain Anuj Nayyar, 17 JAT Regiment, Mahavir Chakra, Posthumous
Major Rajesh Singh Adhikari, 18 Grenadiers, Mahavir Chakra, Posthumous
Captain Haneef-u-ddin, 11 Rajputana Rifles, Vir Chakra, Posthumous
Major Mariappan Saravana, 1 Bihar, Vir Chakra, Posthumous
Squadron Leader Ajay Ahuja, Indian Air Force, Vir Chakra, Posthumous
Havildar Chuni Lal, 8 JAK LI, Vir Chakra
Remember the heroes, for their last breath gave us a reason to live. This nation will always call upon men like these and they will come, this time inside another human body maybe….