Kargil Vijay Diwas: Remembering the unsung heroes of Kargil War

New Delhi: Today marks the completion of 23 years of the Kargil War that saw a triumphant victory of India over Pakistan to recapture its territory. This day is celebrated to honour the valour and sacrifice of the Indian soldiers during the 1999 Kargil War with Pakistan. The brave hearts of the Indian Army gave a crushing defeat to Pakistan in a 60-day long Kargil War.

We have all heard of the gallantry of greats like Captain Vikram Batra, Captain Anuj Nayyar and Grenadier Yogender Yadav. But there were many more who laid down their lives during the war. It was their raw courage and steely resolve that gave India a decisive victory. Here is the story of those heroes you may have not heard of before.

Lt. Vijayant Thapar

During the battle, Vijyant captured a Pakistani position called Barbad Bunker Pt. 4590, Tololing was the first victory for Indian army on 13th June 1999 and has gone into history as a turning point in the war.

Squadron Leader Ajay Ahuja

The Air Force said the officer made the supreme sacrifice for his country while remaining over infiltrators-held positions to help coordinate rescue attempts to locate Flt. Lt. Nachiketa, who had bailed out after his plane stalled due to an engine trouble.

The body of Squadron Leader Ajay Ahuja showed bullet wounds and he was most probably shot dead after baling out from his MiG aircraft which was downed by a Pakistani missile

Captain Vikram Batra

Later named as ‘Tiger of Drass’, Captain Vikram Batra died fighting Pakistani forces during the Kargil war in 1999 at the age of 24. He was given the highest wartime gallantry award Param Vir Chakra posthumously. Due to his exemplary feat, Captain Vikram was awarded many titles. He came to be fondly called the ‘Tiger of Drass’, the ‘Lion of Kargil’, the ‘Kargil Hero’, and so on.

Grenadier Yogendra Singh Yadav 

Yogendra Yadav was the youngest person to ever be awarded the Param Vir Chakra. In August, 1999, Nayab Subedar Yogendra Singh Yadav was awarded Param Vir Chakra, India’s highest military decoration. His battalion captured Tololing Top on 12 June, 1999, and in the process, 2 officers, 2 junior commissioned officers, and 21 soldiers sacrificed their lives.

Lieutenant Manoj Kumar Pandey

According to his father, Manoj Kumar Pandey had joined the Indian Army with the sole ambition of getting a Param Vir Chakra, the highest gallantry award. He got one in Kargil conflict albeit posthumously.

Lieutenant Pandey was a soldier of 1/11 Gorkha Rifles. His team was tasked to clear enemy positions in order to prevent his battalion from getting exposed in the daylight. The battlefield was Khalubar.

He led his team valiantly and was shot on a ledge but he made it to the top of a cliff. He busted enemy bunkers before succumbing to bullets. His daredevilry finally led to the recapture of Khalubar.

Major Saurabh Kalia

On a routine patrol of the Bajrang Post in the Kaksar sector in the rugged, treeless mountains, Saurabh Kalia and five other soldiers were encircled by a platoon of Pakistani rangers and captured alive. No trace of the patrol was left. They were all tortured by Pakistani Army Troops for 24 days, and later their mutilated bodies were handed over by the Pakistan Army.

Major Padmapani Acharya

He joined the Indian Army in 1993 and was commissioned into the Rajputana Rifles. He was posted in Assam and Delhi before being sent to Kashmir.

Major Acharya and his troops had been tasked with the responsibility of capturing Lone Hill and recapturing the Tololing peak in Kargil, both of which were of utmost strategic importance.

Grenadier Yogendra Singh Yadav (18 Grenadiers)

Then 19-years-old, Yogendra Singh Yadav (now Subedar Major) was the youngest person to ever be awarded the Param Vir Chakra.He was the sole survivor of an attack on Tiger Hill in which he took 15 bullets. He was a part of the Ghatak platoon that recaptured three strategic bunkers on Tiger Hill on July 4, 1999.

Yadav led the assault but halfway through enemy lines opened fires, killing his colleagues. Yadav, was himself hit by several bullets which rendered his left arm immobile.Determined to achieve his objective, Yadav strapped his arm in a belt, wrapped a bandana around his leg and continued to fight the enemy. He killed four enemy soldiers in close combat and silenced the automatic fire.

This gave the rest of his platoon the opportunity to climb up the cliff and capture the positions.

Naik Digendra Kumar 

Digendra Kumar’s plan had surprised General VP Malik, the then army chief, who held a Sainik Darbar in Drass on June 2, 1990 after three failed attempts to get back Tololing. Tololing is located an altitude of 15,000 feet.

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