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'Honour J&K farmer with national award for Kargil information'
Shemin Joy in New Delhi | January 22, 2008 17:26 IST
This illiterate Kashmiri farmer was the first to inform the army about the presence of Pakistani troops on the Kargil hilltops in April 1999, but he continues to remain a face in the crowd.
Tsering Samphel, a member of National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, has asked the government to honour Tashi Namgyal of Garkhon village in Kargil with the "highest national level award" for his meritorious services.
The Ladakh resident twice spotted "dubious and suspicious" human movement on the high mountains when he went looking for his lost yak and informed the army about it.
The contribution of 40-year-old Namgyal is similar to Mohd Sherwani's in 1947. Sherwani had misled Pakistani tribesmen heading towards Baramulla.
Samphel told PTI that Namgyal was the "real informer who escorted the army from May 3 to May 12 in 1999 to the difficult hilltops where he had seen the Pakistanis."
In a letter to Defence Minister A K Antony, Samphel said, "Namgyal was the first to inform the army about the presence of Pakistani troops in the high mountains on our side of Line of Control."
Though the army authorities have acknowledged his contributions through various commendations, including a cash prize of Rs 50,000, Samphel said, "Namgyal's service has not been given national appreciation which he deserves."
"Therefore, I once again invite your (Antony's) kind attention for consideration of a national level award to him," Samphel said.
He had in a letter to then defence minister George Fernandes [Images] in 2003 asked for the highest national level award for Namgyal.
Reminding Antony about his previous recommendation to Fernandes, he complained that not giving due recognition to the Ladakhi peasant would send a wrong message to the locals, who are always vigilant on the borders.
Samphel said that had Namgyal not informed the army about the presence of the Northern Light Infantry, the intruders could have encroached further into vulnerable and strategically crucial road links and bridges.
The army gave Namgyal a merit card on 2001 and a certificate of commendation in 2002, which substantiate his contribution as a "vigilant and patriotic son of the soil despite being an illiterate farmer".
In a certificate given in July 2001, by Col Bijoy Mukherjee, commanding officer of first battalion of Bihar Regiment has said Namgyal has always been an "active source and an excellent informer".
"He is in possession of a pair of excellent private binoculars, which he used to search his cattle. He is honest and sincere," the certificate said.