Colonel (retd) Narendra Kumar, a legendary mountaineer who had spotted Pakistani activities around the Siachen glacier in 1984 that helped India secure it subsequently, died on Thursday at the Army's Research and Referral hospital.
Operation Meghdoot and Colonel Narendra Kumar
India had launched 'Operation Meghdoot' in April 1984 to gain total control of the strategically-located glacier as well as nearby passes following Col Kumar's ground report about Pakistani activities.
An alumnus of the Indian Military Academy, Col (retd) Kumar, popularly known as 'Bull' Kumar, was regarded as one of the finest mountaineers of the country.
Based mainly on his reconnaissance reports, the Indian Army went ahead with the mission to occupy the Siachen heights under the Operation Meghdoot.
One of the initial inputs about the Pakistani plans to annexe the Siachen glacier also came to be known by the Army through the iconic mountaineer who was commissioned from in the Kumaon Regiment in 1953.
He was the first Indian to climb Mount Nanda Devi. He climbed Mount Everest in 1965, Mount Blanc (highest peak in the Alps) and later Mount Kangchenchanga.
He climbed up all these peaks despite losing four toes due to frostbite in earlier expeditions. In 1981, as a member of the Antarctica Task Force, he played a stellar role.
He earned the nickname 'Bull' for relentlessly charging into everything he did.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday paid tributes to Colonel Narendra 'Bull' Kumar, lauded as "soldier mountaineer", saying his special bond with the mountains will be remembered. "An irreparable loss! Colonel Narendra 'Bull' Kumar (Retired) served the nation with exceptional courage and diligence. His special bond with the mountains will be remembered. Condolences to his family and well-wishers. Om Shanti," Modi tweeted.