Thursday, August 28, 2014
A saga of unparalleled bravery. - Original source/link unavailable:
On June 2, 1999, General V. P. Malik, the then army chief held a " Sainik Darbar" at Gumari in the Drass sector after three failed attempts to recapture Tololing Hill, which stands at 15,000 feet. Fifty- nine Indian soldiers from different regiments had already died, following which Gen Malik summoned the commanders of the 2 Rajputana Rifles to present their plans.
The Army chief was just not convinced by their plans when a 30-year- old commando from the last row got up, summoned all the courage that an Army Naik would need to speak to the general, and said: "I am Naik Digendra Kumar known as Cobra, the best commando of the Indian Army. Sir, I have a plan that guarantees our victory." "Explain," said the General. "Sir, the hill is straight," Digendra offered. "We will take the same route as the enemy." A surprised General Malik countered saying death is certain on this route. Digendra wouldn"t back off. "Death is unavoidable otherwise too. Leave this to me.
Give me the tools, and I shall win the battle. "He got what he wanted"
1. 100 metres of Russian rope that can bear up to 10 tons of weight,
2. Russian nails that can easily be put into rocks, and
3. high-powered injections to get rid of fatigue.
The story of Digendra, who was later promoted to havaldar and received the Mahavir Chakra for his valour, is a tale of real and unparalleled courage.
For two days starting June 8, Digendra and his colleagues recced the area before putting rope all over, a task that took 14 hours. On June 12, Digendra and nine fellow commandos began the mission to free Tololing. He was carrying an AK-47 rifle with 360 bullets, 18 hand grenades, one pistol and a commando dagger dipped in cyanide. Each of them was assigned to blast one bunker each of the 11 that the Pakistani army had built. "I assigned myself the first and the last bunkers," says Digendra.
The group began to climb the hill in the dead of night. "It was pitch- dark," Digendra remembers. "At one point, I thought I touched a stone. It wasn"t; it was actually the barrel of an enemy machine gun. I pulled it, and threw a grenade in the bunker. It caught fire. We knew that the Pakistanis would retaliate. And they did.
Around 250 soldiers and artillery tanks began firing upon us." Digendra and his team were unable to move due to the intense firing. "I asked that cannons be made to fire a metre above by changing the angle. "It worked and the team moved under the raining bullets.
As they were moving ahead, Digendra was hit by three bullets in the chest, one in the left thumb and another in the lower waist. Four of his colleagues died. Soon, the Pakistanis overwhelmed Digendra’s team with sheer numbers, and all nine died.
Before they died, they handed over their guns and grenades to Digendra who threw 18 grenades in all the 11 bunkers. All of a sudden Major Anwar Khan appeared to confront him. Digendra targeted his gun. "He jumped on me”.
I lost my gun. So, I grabbed him with his hair and beheaded him with my dagger." He was soon able to take the hill and place the Indian flag on top. By then, he was unconscious. He woke up in a military hospital. He was officially a disabled soldier after receiving five bullets.
Perhaps the only live soldier to receive the Mahavir Chakra in the Kargil War, Digendra received his medal on January 26, 2000.