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E-Mail this column to a friend 'We were able to silence their guns and kill all of them one by one'

Rifleman Sanjay Kumar, 13 JAK Rifles: Param Vir Chakra winner


Rifleman Sanjay Kumar Far from winning the Param Vir Chakra, Rifleman Sanjay Kumar says he did not even think he would fight a war one day. He joined the Indian army in July 26,1996 and has become one of its most highly decorated soldiers within three years.

Soft-spoken Sanjay hails from the Bilaspur district of Himachal Pradesh. A resident of village Klol Bukiana, Sanjay did his schooling in the village school. But whenever he saw someone wearing an army uniform his eyes would light up.

''My Chacha was in the army. I would hear stories of how he fought the Pakistanis in the 1965 war and how the enemy was defeated. Other villagers who had been in the army some time or the other, also told the young boys about their heroic deeds. I would often wonder if I could join the Indian army and be somewhat like them. After I passed my matriculation exam, I started making inquiries about how I could become a soldier. With my kind of qualification, this is the best I could do under the circumstances.

"Eventually I joined the army but I had never ever dreamt that in such a short span of time I would get the highest award for gallantry.

'We had been given the task of clearing the enemy from peak 4875 in the Mushokh valley. Major Gurpreet was leading our company. We were supposed to assault the peak on July 4,1999. But the enemy fire was so heavy that we decided to wait for a day. Next day too the situation was no different. But we had orders to carry out the task. The fire was still very heavy. So our commander asked for a support fire. When the support fire forced them to withdraw for sometime, we could take advantage of the time gap and move forward.

"After sometime we reached a stage where support fire could kill all of us. So we had to move on our own. One Ghatak squad led by a JCO moved ahead. Others had to wait till the way was cleared. We were somewhere between 18,000 to 20,000 feet high. The trouble was that if we moved they would fire at us. We decided to crawl. It was difficult, but we had to do it.

"Inch by inch we moved on. The fire from the enemy continued to be heavy. We too fired back and engaged them in a ding-dong battle. It was a battle of nerves. We were moving up and our casualties were high. But they were also losing their men. We had to surprise them. Once we were on top we were able to silence their guns and kill all of them one by one. The grenades that we threw played havoc in the enemy camp.

"After we managed to capture one of their bunkers, things became a bit easy. But we had lost far too many men. Some of them were on the injured list. Two would give a support fire while the other two would move to the next bunker. Two bullets hit me. One hit me on my knee and the other hit me on the hip. We were just two, when we captured the last bunker.

"After we had killed all the enemy soldiers, we counted all the bodies. They were twelve in all. Lot of their arms and ammunition was lying around. They had lot of other things as well which clearly showed that they had been there for sometime."

Colonel Jabir Singh, commanding officer of the unit

''I give full credit for the Kargil heroics to my officers and jawans who fought valiantly and drove the enemy out of the Indian territory.

"Capturing the two bunkers was very important for the Indian army because it was from this vantage point that the Pakistani soldiers kept an eye on the Srinagar-Leh highway. This had made the movement of the Indian army columns very difficult. In fact anything that moved on the road was badly hit by the enemy.

"Sanjay Kumar had earlier proved his worth when his regiment was deployed in Sopore in Jammu and Kashmir. He took part in the anti insurgency operations and had taken the militants head on."

Param Vir Chakra winner Rifleman Sanjay Kumar, who is getting married in April, spoke to Onkar Singh.

Param Vir Chakra winner Captain Vikram Batra

Param Vir Chakra winner Captain Manoj Pandey

Param Vir Chakra winner Havildar Yogender Singh Yadav

The gallant 21: Param Vir Chakra winners so far

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