KSLF commemorates 20 years of the Kargil War

Each year, KSLF dedicates sessions to books on the Military. This time we commemorate 20 years of the Kargil war. In a session where Late Capt Vikram Batra, and Rifleman Sanjay Kumar, the only 2 Param Vir Chakras from Himachal will be honored. From Palampur and Bilaspur respectively. They are both from the same battalion. A rare hat trick; two PVC’s won by the same battalion, for the same battle, in the same sector.

Parents of Late Capt Vikram Batra, Mr and Mrs Girdharilal Batra, have been invited to attend and will be hosted by KSLF.

Here below is a small token of our appreciation presented on stage to Mr and Mrs Girdharilal Batra, and Subedar Sanjay Kumar. By General Alok Kler, Brigadier Naveen Mahajan and Rahul Singh. And our Kargil panelists. Col SC Tyagi, Rachna Bisht Rawat, Capt Sonam Wangchuk and Vishnu Som.

The Param Vir Chakra was established on 26th January 1950. It is given for the highest and bravest act of valor in the presence of the enemy. Till date, only 21 Indian soldiers have been awarded this honor.

Late Captain Vikram Batra, PVC (1974-1999)

Born in Palampur, Himachal Pradesh, he was from a humble middle class background. He joined the Indian Military Academy Dehradun and was commissioned in the Jammu and Kashmir Rifles at Sopore, as a Lieutenant. He soon rose to the rank of Captain. On 1st June 1999, he was posted in Kargil.. From the sub sectors of Drass and Batalik he was sent to capture the significant peak point 5140. Nicknamed Sher Shah, he along with his Delta Company decided to attack the enemy by surprise from the rear. As they neared the top of the sheer cliff edge, the enemy was alerted and started fire from machine guns on them. Regardless of their safety the team under his motivation kept moving and blew the machine gun post by hurling two grenades. Despite being seriously injured he inspired his team to fulfill their mission. The point 5140 was captured at 3.30am on 20th June, 1999.

Capture of Ledge by Capt Vikram Batra at Point 4875

Major Vohra reinforced the troops at Point 4875, along with Captain Vikram Batra and his company. Fire fighting continued all through the next day. A sangar on the ledge was creating the maximum hindrance. Captain Naveen proceeded to charge at the
sangar, but was injured in a grenade blast. Captain Vikram Batra was with him. He took charge of the situation, gathered his men and rushed towards the sangar, killing all five enemy soldiers inside it. Just when he thought the battle was over and was calling over his rest of the men, he was hit first by a bullet in his chest and then a rocket that seemed to have come out of nowhere. He succumbed to his injuries on the spot.

Subedar Major Sanjay Kumar, PVC

Of Jammu and Kashmir Rifles, Sanjay Kumar was born in Bilaspur, Himachal Pradesh. He was awarded PVC, for showing an unusual display of grit, gallantry and determination in the face of enemy attack. While leading a team as a scout he was given the task of capturing Area Flat Top on 4th July, 1999. After reaching the top of the cliff, they were faced with fire from a machine gun only 150 metres away. Assessing the detrimental effect of the fire, he crawled up the ledge and charged towards a bunker all alone. He was hit in the chest and forearm and started bleeding profusely. He managed to kill three soldiers in hand combat and others in a second bunker by firing on them with a machine gun. His act of bravery inspired his platoon, to capture Area Flat top on 4th July 1999.

We cannot underestimate the power of a single man; most of the times, he tips the scales. The exceptional bravery of a simple village lad, Sanjay Kumar, turned the battle in favour of not only his battalion, but also his motherland. It is heartening to learn about Sanjay Kumar’s grit and determination, despite facing failures earlier in life. He is the youngest among six children. His two elder brothers were in ITBP and one of his uncles had served in the J&K Rifles and was martyred in the 1965 Indo-Pak War. He had resolved to join the same regiment. He attempted to join the Army twice, as a recruit, but could not make it. He came to Delhi to look for a job and learnt driving, but returned to his native Himachal, where he became a taxi-driver in Bilaspur. He, however, did not lose his determination and will to join the Indian Army as a soldier. His third attempt at Jabalpur made him a soldier, at last. Who could have known then that Sanjay Kumar would later be known for his legendary bravery? As the attack on Point 4875 had stalled due to heavy enemy fire from one of the bunkers in area Flat Top, Sepoy Sanjay Kumar, a volunteer leading scout, inched forward. One of the enemy bunkers at Flat Top spewed out bullets from a UMG. He was not deterred, and charged towards that bunker through a hail of enemy bullets. With exceptional courage and bravery, he continued his ferocious assault on the bunker, despite being hit twice in the chest, and killed a couple of enemy soldiers. He then rushed towards the next bunker from where the enemy was firing the machine gun. The enemy fled, leaving behind the machine gun with the ammunition loaded in it. Sanjay turned the gun towards the fleeing enemy and shot many of them down, lest they return to counter attack, later. He refused to be evacuated until the complete area was cleared of the enemy.

Late Captain Saurabh Kalia (1976-1999)

We also remember Capt Saurabh Kalia from Palampur, Himachal Pradesh. His parents, Dr and Mrs Narinder K. Kalia, could not be with us today. He excelled at school, securing first Division and winning scholarships throughout his academic career. His first posting was in the 4th battalion Jat Regiment (4 Jat) in the Kargil Sector. Just 24 years young,he was the first Indian army officer to observe and report large-scale intrusion of Pakistani Army and foreign mercenaries on the Indian side of the LoC at Kargil. He volunteered to patrol the area with 5 comrades, and all were captured alive. It was after this that India discovered hundreds of guerrillas had established fortified positions on the peaks of the hills deep inside the Indian side of the LOC with sophisticated equipment and supply lines back to Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir. They were brutally tortured in custody and their bodies handed back to India after approximately four weeks. The world stood by his parents as they fought for their son’s human rights and that is why we respect and support them.


Vikram Seth Acrostic