History of India: The Story of Kargil War 1999

The Kargil War, also known as the Kargil conflict, was an armed conflict between India and Pakistan that took place between April and June 1999 in Kashmir.

At an elevation of 5,307 meters, Point 4660 or ‘Tiger Hill’ is the dominant feature that stands north of the sleepy town of Dras. Sixteen years ago, it was the scene of one of the bloodiest battles of the Kargil War. This is how the Indian Army won what was rightly India’s.

1. Pakistan’s 12 Northern Light Infantry, supported by the Special Services Group, had sneaked up and taken hold of Tiger Hill.

Kargil War: Plan of Attack

2. The first attempt to wrest control of the dominant conical feature in the second week of May 1999 by the 8th Battalion of the Sikh Regiment did not go according to plan. The unit had been diverted to Dras while making its way to Srinagar and thrust into battle without any acclimatisation or proper winter clothing. The unit suffered heavy losses, and it was decided to defer the capture till surrounding features had been captured.

3. After the enemy had been dislodged from the heights of Tololing, the tide began to turn in favour of the Indian Army. And by the end of June, the operation for Tiger Hill was being planned.

Media gave an Idea

4. This was to be an all out attack. The preparations were made and the date of attack was supposedly kept a secret. Unfortunately, the media got a whiff of it and announced the launch of an imminent attack, giving the enemy a heads-up.

5. But there was nothing that the Pakistanis could do. On the night of 2/3 July, the Indian Air Force launched bombing sorties on the enemy positions. IAF deployed its formidable Mirage-2000s carrying the Paveway Laser Guided Bombs for accurate bombings. This was probably the most high altitude use of such a weapon anywhere in the world.

Air Attack

6. Using specially developed bombing techniques, the Mirages bombed the hardened bunkers despite the enemy being equipped with Stinger anti aircraft missiles. The then Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal A Y Tipnis witnessed the attack from the rear seat of the trainer version of the Mirage-2000

7. The ground attack began at 19:00 hrs on 3 July. The artillery pounded the enemy with a relentless barrage of shells with direct and indirect firing. Multi Barrel Rocket Launchers were also employed, that broke the enemy’s back.

Story of 18 Grenadiers

8. A three-pronged attack was planned with 18 Grenadiers along with 8 Sikh. 8 Sikh was to approach the enemy from ‘obvious’ routes for deception and provide a firm base for subsequent attacks. 18 Grenadiers was to attack from two directions and capture the hill. While the more obvious routes are more heavily defended, what 18 Grenadiers were faced with vertical cliff faces and an enemy that was well entrenched in a dominant position. This didn’t make things difficult, but damn near impossible. But the Grenadiers were more than ready.

Story of Yogender Singh Yadav

9. The ‘Ghatak Platoon’ of the unit was tasked to climb the most treacherous route, and left the enemy surprised when it reached the top using ropes at 04:00 hrs. A member of the Ghatak Platoon was Yogender Singh Yadav. He had volunteered to lead and fix the rope for the team to climb up. Halfway up the cliff, the enemy noticed the movement and opened up intense automatic fire using machine gun and grenades. This killed three men, including the company commander.

10. Yadav too was hit by bullets in the shoulder and groin. But despite the injury and realising the gravity of the situation, he continued his climb. Reaching the top and unmindful of his injuries, he crawled to the enemy position and lobbed in a grenade, killing four Pakistanis in the process and silencing the guns. But he wasn’t done yet. Despite sustaining yet more injuries, and charging in the direction of the fire that injured him, he refused to be evacuated and was instrumental in bringing down the second bunker. Inspired by his gallant act, the platoon charged the other positions and punched the enemy out.

Param Vir Chakra

11. For this act of bravery, Yadav was awarded the Param Vir Chakra and his medal citation reads “Grenadier Yogender Singh Yadav displayed the most conspicuous courage, indomitable gallantry, grit and determination under extreme adverse circumstances.”

Tiger Hill in Indian Control

12. Tiger Hill was now under Indian control and the Divisional Commander confirmed to the Chief of Army Staff General V P Malik that the enemy wouldn’t be able to dislodge 18 Grenadiers. Tiger Hill had been captured.

13. The victory in the Battle of Tiger Hill also dealt another blow to Pakistan. Nawaz Sharif was to meet Bill Clinton later the same day, but the Indian victory that was widely reported across the globe, nailed the Pakistani lies.

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