Kargil Vijay Diwas: Remembering the soldiers who laid down their lives

The legacy of Kargil heroes is as vast and varied as India itself. On July 26, 1999, the Indian Armed Forces won a gritty and decisive war against Pakistan. In the ferocious battle, many brave young soldiers laid down their lives defending their nation on the inhospitable battlefield of Kargil.

It’s been seventeen years since then but the unparalleled bravery and sacrifice of Kargil brave hearts are still etched in the collective memory of the country. While we all have heard about Anuj Nayyar, Vikram Batra and Yogendra Yadav, a few heroes of the Kargil War but there are others whose raw courage and steely resolve gave India a decisive victory.

Captain Jerry Prem Raj

Kargil Vijay Diwas: Remembering the soldiers who laid down their lives

Captain Jerry Prem Raj was tasked with launching an assault on the Twin Bumps in the Drass sector. He could positively identify the enemy position and directed accurate artillery fire on to it. During this, he was hit by enemy fire, but disregarded his own safety and continued to bring effective fire on the enemy. He was hit a second time by a volley of bullets and gravely injured. His bravery ensured the enemy suffered high casualties and helped minimise losses to his own force. In doing so he paid with his life, for which he was awarded the Vir Chakra.

Captain Shashi Bhushan Ghidiyal

Kargil Vijay Diwas: Remembering the soldiers who laid down their lives

Captain Shashi Bhushan Ghidiyal was the Artillery Observation Post Officer for Pimple 11 Complex. When a company commander was injured and the second-in-command of the assaulting company were fatally wounded during just 400 metres short of the goal, Captain Ghidiyal took control of the company and started directing its troops. While doing so, he sustained gunshot wounds. Despite his injuries, he led the men to the objective and prevented a counter attack from the enemy. For his leadership and courage, Capt Ghidiyal was awarded the Vir Chakra.

Subedar Raghunath Singh

Kargil Vijay Diwas: Remembering the soldiers who laid down their lives

Subedar Raghunath Singh was the platoon commander of Delta Company of 13 JAK Rif and was tasked to clear the area ledge beyond Point 4875 in the Mushkoh Valley. However, the Company was stalled due to heavy artillery shelling and firing from a well-fortified enemy all along the 700-metre- long ledge. Seeing the gravity of the situation, Subedar Singh volunteered to lead his Company in a daring daylight mission. Showing indomitable spirit, raw courage and with determination beyond the call of duty, he led the charge of his platoon from the front and overcome resistance put up by the enemy. In the ensuing hand-to-hand fight, he killed two intruders and kept firing on the fleeing enemy with utter disregard for his personal safety. His action was instrumental in maintaining the momentum of the assault and forcing the enemy to retreat. He was awarded the Vir Chakra.

Havildar Sis Ram Gill

Kargil Vijay Diwas: Remembering the soldiers who laid down their lives

Havildar Sis Ram Gill and his team were tasked with raiding the enemy post “Majnu”, at over 17,000 feet. Gill led the commando team from the front and scaled the post despite the difficult and rugged terrain. He faced facing intense enemy artillery and mortar fire throughout. In doing so, he sustained a severe injury to his leg but continued to motivate his team and advance towards the objective. He himself fired sniper and LMG bursts at every opportunity resulting in the killing of 6 enemy combatants. He injured four others as well. Despite being grievously injured, he refused to be evacuated knowing full well that his evacuation would lead to mission failure due to reduction of fighting strength. He continued to fight valiantly showing utmost dedication to duty and self-sacrifice and ensured completion of the special mission task. He finally succumbed to his injuries on July 9, 1999. He was awarded the Vir Chakra for his gallantry.

Lieutenant Keishing Clifford Nongrum

Kargil Vijay Diwas: Remembering the soldiers who laid down their lives

Hailing from Shillong in Meghalaya, Lieutenant Keishing Clifford Nongrum’s passion for the Armed Forces led him to join the 64th SSC course at the Officer Training Academy in 1996. After completing his training, Nongrum was commissioned into the 12th Battalion of the JAK Light Infantry. Lieutenant Keishing Clifford Nongrum was just 24 when the Kargil war begun. In the war, his battalion was posted at the Batalik Sector.

On the night of June 30, 1999, Lt Nongrum’s unit was given the responsibility of securing Point 4812, a peak whose strategic location made it a top priority for the army. Climbing the vertical peak from the south eastern direction was nearly impossible, but Lt Nongrum and his determined platoon took up the challenge. They steadily and stealthily clambered up the steep slopes to reach the enemy bunkers at the top.

On the peak, Pakistani infiltrators had entrenched themselves in interconnected bunkers carved out of boulders. Lt Nongrum and his battalion had to face strong enemy opposition in the form of heavy mortar and automatic machine gun fire. pinned down for about two hours, Lt Nongrum decided to do something that would turn the tide for his platoon. Not caring about his personal safety, he charged through the fire zone, firing and lobbing grenades at the enemy bunkers. His grenades killed six enemy soldiers but while throwing them, Lt Nongrum was hit by several bullets. But Lt Nongrum continued to figh hand-to-hand in an attempt to snatch the machine gun in the remaining bunker. In a supreme sacrifice, he chose to fight till his last breath and refused to be rescued. He kept fighting valiantly till he finally succumbed to his injuries on the battlefield.

For his selflessness, dogged determination and raw courage, Lt Keishing Clifford Nongrum was posthumously awarded the Nation’s second highest wartime gallantry award, Maha Vir Chakra, on August 15, 1999.

On Kargil Vijay Diwas, we remember and salute this heroic warrior who laid down his life fighting to protect his nation and his fellow countrymen. It’s time we gave these unsung heroes and their families the recognition and respect they deserve.

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