July 26 — Op Vijay Diwas —time to remember the Kargil heroes and martyrs

WordForPeace.com
18 Grenadiers played a major role in the battles of Tololing and Tiger Hill in Dras. These battles were the turning points during the Kargil war. As July 26 — Op Vijay Diwas — approaches , it is time to pay homage to the martyrs
Brig Khushal Thakur (retd)
CO of 18 Grenadiers, during Kargil war TO commemorate the great victory of the Kargil war in 1999 and to pay homage to the martyrs, July 26 is observed as “Op Vijay Diwas” every year as a mark of respect for the bravehearts of our nation and to showcase their indomitable spirit, for the new generation to emulate.
Operation Vijay

Operation Vijay, launched on May 26, 1999, is a saga of bravery and valour displayed by the Indian army. No army in the world has fought and won in conditions as adverse as they were in the forbidding, rugged, icy, windswept terrain over which the troops had to navigate their way at night, often under heavy artillery and machine gun firing. The enemy had a sweeping view of all the approaches to their positions and could inflict heavy casualties due to sniping and direct fire. The movement and carriage of ammunition and other stores were normally done at night.Despite all these odds, the Indian army took the challenge head on, turning adversity into opportunity and achieved a glorious victory. The operation, which lasted for 50 days, evicted the Pakistani troops from the Indian territory. Fought at altitudes between 9,500 ft and 18,000 ft, the Indian army warriors, caring little for their personal safety, ensured preservation of that immeasurable motivating force — izzat — and reminding the countrymen that the country comes First, Always and Every time.I, as the commanding officer of 18 Grenadiers, had the opportunity to lead the battalion through the two important battles of Tololing and Tiger Hill in the Dras sector and both are considered as the turning points during the Kargil war. Capturing Tololing

The capture of the Tololing ridge was the first success in the entire Dras-Kargil sector evicting Pakistani intruders who were perched on the massive Tololing feature at the height of over 15,000 ft and dominating National Highway IA effectively, both by fire as well as by observations, enabling Pak artillery to accurately deliver. The battle was truly a saga of courage, sacrifice and heroism by the gallant soldiers of 18 Grenadiers and 2 Rajputana Rifles. The enemy resorted to intense automatic fire of UMGs, HMGs and heavy artillery shelling. But after a fierce hand-to-hand fight, the enemy resistance finally began to crumble and in the wee hours of the morning of June 13, 1999, Tololing was captured by our gallant soldiers. But for that victory, we paid very heavy price.The 18 Grenadiers lost two officers — Lt-Col R Vishwanathan, Second-in-Command, and Major Rajesh Adhikari, Company Commander — two JCOs and 21soldiers. Major Adhikari was awarded the MVC posthumously and Lt-Col R Vishwanathan the Veer Chakra posthumously.2 Rajputana Rifles lost one officer — Major Vivek Gupta — two JCOs and seven soldiers. Major Vivek Gupta and Nk Digendra Kumar were posthumously awarded the MVC.The Tiger Hill

The Tiger Hill was the most dominating feature in the Dras sector and the enemy had occupied the feature in large strength and was effectively bringing down observed artillery fire on large tracts of National Highway 1A. The capture of this complex was imperative to evict the enemy from the Dras sector. The Tiger Hill was isolated by 8 Sikh and provided a firm base to 18 Grenadiers during their attack on night of July 3-4, 1999. The gallant troops of 18 Grenadiers advanced in adverse weather conditions amidst heavy artillery fire of the enemy and Lt Balwan Singh, the “Ghatak” platoon commander, with his team could reach the Tiger Hill top from the north direction, crossing the icy steep gradients with the help of ropes and mountain-climbing equipments, which took the enemy by surprise.In hand-to-hand fights, six soldiers of the Ghatak platoon were killed and 10 wounded, including the incredibly brave Grenadier Yogender Singh Yadav. The enemy resorted to counter-attacks, which were beaten back with heavy casualties to the enemy. Grenadier Yogender Singh Yadav, despite having been wounded, fought bravely, lobbed a grenade into a machine gun bunker, charged and killed four Pakistanis with his assault rifle. For his immense courage and determination in this act of heroism, he was awarded the nation’s highest recognition for gallantry, the Param Vir Chakra.18 Grenadiers lost nine soldiers and 8 Sikh lost one officer, Lt K Bhattacharya, four JCOs and 30 soldiers in the battle of Tiger Hill.

18 Grenadiers’ tally of awards
In both the battles, I lost two officers, two JCOs and 30 soldiers of my 18 Grenadiers family. My battalion got the highest tally of gallantry awards: 52 awards, including one PVC, two MVCs, six VCs. Besides, the unit was conferred with “The Unit Citation” by then COAS, General VP Malik, Battle Honours Tololing, Battle Honours Tiger Hill and Theatre Honours “Kargil”.While we commemorate the sacrifices made by our brave officers, JCOs and men on July 26, 2018, by paying tributes to the martyrs and remembering their families, it is also a time to assure our countrymen that for a soldier, the Nation comes First, Always and Every time. The Indian soldier asks for very little and is prepared to give the supreme sacrifice of his life in the cause of his duty and the least we can do is to keep him and his family in our thoughts and respect. 
Source: https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/comment/remembering-the-kargil-heroes/624765.html

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