Real Story of Vikram Batra – Shershaah – Independence Day Special 2021
Hello, friends! In the year 1999, some Pakistani soldiers infiltrated Indian territory and the Indian Defence Forces retaliated bravely. Soon, a full-fledged war ensued between India and Pakistan. The war is now known as the Kargil War. Kargil War of 1999.
This place became the center of much international intrigue and war. Between India and Pakistan. 22 years ago, India was betrayed by its neighbor Pakistan. Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, made it clear that India would emerge victoriously. “The world has seen that we want peace now the world will see that to protect our peace we can use strength if we need to”.
One of the most famous war heroes of the Kargil War was Captain Vikram Batra. Recently, a film has been made about him Shersaah on Amazon Prime Video. So I thought this is the right time to write an article on this topic.
What was the Kargil War? What were the reasons that led to it? And what happened exactly?
Come, let’s find the answers to these in today’s blog on Kargil War. Our story begins on 3rd May 1999. In a small village in the Batalik region, there was a local shepherd Tashi Namgyal. He had lost his yak. He went to look for his yak with a friend. While looking through the binoculars, he saw something strange. He saw some armed men digging bunkers. He found it quite fishy.
Tashi Namgyal’s words: .”There we saw around 6 men, they were in black outfits, so I continued looking for some time. They were breaking rocks, and digging.”
He got suspicious that those people were from the other side of LoC. So he went to the nearest post of the Indian Army. To inform the Indian Army. Thankfully, the Indian Army checked this information. And found that the information was correct. But this wasn’t a minor intrusion. This was a well-planned attack by the Pakistani Army. Intrusions were reported in Dras Kaksar and Mushkoh sectors. Overall, they had occupied more than 130 posts. Their aim was to block the critically important national highway NH 1. By blocking it, they could’ve cut off Kashmir from Ladakh. The code name of this operation was Operation Badr.
The 1972 Simla Agreement
If we look at this action from the perspective of international relations, this was a direct breach of the 1972 Simla Agreement. That was signed by the former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and the former Pakistani President Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. According to this agreement, both neighboring countries had agreed to never violate the LoC. And in case of any issue between India and Pakistan peaceful resolution would be worked out. Through bilateral approaches.
The unfortunate thing was that friends, only a few months before the intrusions, in February 1999, the former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had made a journey to Lahore in a bus. Where he had recited a poem, “Hum Jung Na Hone Denge” (We Will Not Let War Break.)And signed the Lahore declaration as well. Along with the former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
This was, in a way, a monumental effort by the former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. To establish peace between India and Pakistan.“We’ve been enemies for too long. Now, we should spend some time as friends.”Only 3 months after this, this large-scale intrusion by the Pakistani soldiers, showed very clearly how there was someone in Pakistan that didn’t want this peace to last.
But anyway, to retaliate against this, the Indian Army launched a counterattack. That was given the code name Operation Vijay (Victory). Thousands of Army troops were mobilized and sent to the Kargil sector. Then the Chief of Army was General Ved Prakash Malik.
The Indian Airforce
The Indian Airforce played a very crucial role. On 26th May, they launched Operation Safed Sagar (White Sea). That aimed at driving out the Pakistani troops from the Indian territory. Traditionally, whenever air power is used in a conflict, It is considered that all-out war has been declared. It was the first time that India had deployed air power in such an environment.
The Indian Airforce had also planned that they’ll cross the LoC into Pakistan and bomb a few targets. But as Air Chief Marshall Anil Yashwant Tipnis later revealed that Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was completely against it. He had firmly ordered that LoC should not be crossed. And there is a very interesting diplomatic reason for it.
Friends, whenever any two countries go into a war against each other, looking at the war from a third perspective, it becomes quite difficult to judge who is right and who’s wrong. Because often, both sides commit mistakes and violations are from both sides.
Take your example. When we as Indians watch the war between Israel and Palestine or the war between Azerbaijan and Armenia, it becomes difficult for us to know who is in the right and who is in the wrong because often, both sides have good arguments to justify themselves.
Similarly, in the Kargil War of 1999 between India and Pakistan, it was difficult to judge from an international perspective who was right and who was wrong. Which country could be trusted? So India showed a lot of restraint. By not crossing the LoC. It showed the international public that it was a defensive war.
“Pakistani soldiers had intruded in the Indian territory we want to push them out, and we are not interested in crossing the LoC and carrying out bombings in Pakistan.””We simply want to protect our country.”
Doing this was a major diplomatic victory for India. Within the next few weeks, the other countries European Union, the ASEAN Regional Forum, the United States, G8 Countries, all supported India in this Kargil War. US President Bill Clinton pressured Nawaz Sharif to withdraw the Pakistani soldiers. The entire world could see that India was in the right and Pakistan was wrong.
But talking about the ground situation, the Pakistani troops had an advantage.”Taking advantage of the geography of the region, which in many instances, favored them, Pakistan Army regulars accompanied by fully armed and well-trained militants, sneaked into Indian territory.”The Pakistani soldiers were in an advantageous position in this war because they were on higher grounds in the mountains.
Additionally, this region gets very cold. The Dras region is considered to be the coldest inhabited region in India. Often, temperatures fall to -40°C. So it was immensely difficult for the soldiers to fight in such conditions. But there is a popular saying in the Indian Army,’ When the going gets tough, the tough get going.’In the Kargil War, the Battle of Tololing is considered to be the turning point.
When the war changed its course. To recapture the Tololing Hill, was a difficult task for the Indian Forces. At the height of 16,000 feet, the temperature was between -5°C to -11 °C, with blanket firing from above, because the enemies were placed higher in the hill. Because of all these reasons, for the Indian forces to move or try to climb that hill, was possible only in bad weather and moonless nights. The nights when the moon wasn’t visible in the sky. So that there isn’t much light when they move, it doesn’t alert the enemies.
Captain Ajit Singh was among the officers who attempted this. He recalled how to carry even 1 gram of extra weight meant carrying an extra load. Often the soldiers had to choose, between carrying food rations with them or carrying ammunition. Food packet weighing 2 kg, or 100 bullets. Captain Ajit chose bullets. And he survived for 3 days by smoking cigarettes. Without any food. Considering all these conditions it was estimated that till will take a fit soldier 11 hours to reach the top of Tololing hill.
Major Rajesh Adhikari led the company that tried to climb the mountain. And his company was successful to quite an extent. But when they were about 15 meters from the top, Intruders saw them and started firing. Major Adhikari and two other soldiers were martyred in hand-to-hand combat.
Because of heavy firing from the enemy, the rest of his company had to retreat, and the company took three positions behind huge rocks. But as soon as the soldiers tried to move from behind the rocks, firing would start from the top. So they were trapped in between.15,000 feet above the base, And approx 1,000 feet below the top. These soldiers were stuck in the middle.
The situation was really bad. Because they did not have any more grenades with them. The Indian Army made it their current priority to recapture Tololing hill. Colonel Ravindranath handpicked 90 soldiers. To go help the soldiers stuck in between, and recapture the hill.
Several washermen, cobblers, and barbers in the battalion were also helping them because they had to carry the heavy ammunition to the top of the hill. So physical strength was needed. More people were needed. On 12th June they were successful at reaching the soldiers stuck in the middle. Around 8 pm. Only a thousand feet away from the enemy, Colonel Ravindranath gave a final pep talk to his soldiers.”I have given you what you wanted. Now you have to give me what I want.”
The heavy firing lasted for 4 hours. More than 10,000 shells and more than 120 artillery guns were fired. There was so much fire that later this ridgeline was named Barbaad (Destroyed) Bunker. The plan was to divide the soldiers into 3 teams. Arjun, Bheem, and Abhimanyu, (Characters from the Epic Mahabharata).
The first team would lead the frontal attacks. The second team would move to the other side of the cliff to a lower ridge, And the third team will cover fire.
The enemies were attacked from the back by the platoon led by Major Vivek Gupta. A hand-to-hand battle took place and unfortunately, Major Vivek Gupta along with 6 other soldiers was martyred. But these soldiers were eventually successful in capturing Tololing. Thankfully, the intruders had left behind butter, tinned pineapple, and honey, so there were no problems with getting food supplies.
For the Indian soldiers who reached the top of this hill. About 1.6 km to the North of Tololing hill, was Point 5140. It was the highest point in the same ridgeline. At the height of 17,000 feet. Thus, higher than the Tololing hill. Between Tololing and Point 5140, there were 10 high grounds known as Humps. From Hump 1 to Hump 10. These Humps were easily captured by the Indian Army. And then the Indian Army reached the base of Point 5140.
Known as the Rocky Knob. The task of capturing Point 5140 was assigned to Lieutenant Colonel Yogesh Kumar Joshi. After this, two groups of soldiers were formed to climb the hill in two different directions.
Real Story of Vikram Batra – Shershaah
One group was under the command of Lieutenant Sanjeev Singh Jamwal. And the second group was led by Lieutenant Vikram Batra. Whose code name was Shershaah(Lion King). That’s why friends, the upcoming movie on Amazon Prime Video is named Shershaah. Both Lieutenants were told to choose a success signal. When they’d be successful in their mission, how will they signal to the others?
Lieutenant Sanjeev chose the signal”Oh! Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!”, And Lieutenant Vikram Batra chose the signal”Yeh Dil Maange More.” (lyrics of a song; this heart desires for more)”.
The other company’s success signal, Oh, yeah, yeah which was passed to our Colonel Joshi on the radio set. After that, another bunker was captured. Lieutenant Vikram Batra’s company’s success signal was ‘Dil Maange More.’ The guys were so highly charged up that they’re wanting that some more bunkers should have been there and they would have got more chaps.” In the early hours of 20th June, Both groups started to climb. And both groups were successful. There were no casualties. And both sent their success signals to the command post. Lieutenant Vikram Batra was promoted because of the successful mission. To the rank of Captain. He called his father and told him, “Daddy, I have captured.”By capturing this point, India got its diplomatic victory. Because at this point, several Pakistani documents were recovered.”
Prelude to the final assault.”Another major point was Tiger Hill. One side of Tiger Hill is a vertical cliff of 1,000 feet. And the Indian Army decided to surprise the enemy by climbing this cliff. By using mountaineering equipment. So between the nights of 3rd and 4th July, a group of 22 brave soldiers undertook this mission. One of the soldiers was 19-year-old Grenadier Yogendra Singh Yadav.
He had volunteered for this mission. They had reached halfway on this 1,000 feet high vertical cliff when the enemy found out about them. Machine guns, as well as rockets, were fired on them from above. platoon commander along with 2 others was martyred then.
But grenadier Yogendra Singh continued climbing despite the firing. He climbed 940 feet. He was only 60 feet away from the top. When three bullets hit him in his legs and shoulder. But even after being hit by three bullets, he continued climbing.
And he climbed to the top, threw a grenade, and killed 4 enemies. He attacked another bunker with the soldiers. And the remaining soldiers of his platoon were so motivated by his bravery, that they completed the climb to the top as well.
And attacked Tiger Hill. And this mission was successful. Perhaps the most shocking part of this entire mission was despite being hit by multiple bullets, grenadier Yogendra Singh Yadav survived. He was admitted to the hospital and later he was given the title of Honorary Lieutenant.
Do you remember Hrithik Roshan’s movie Lakshya? The vertical cliff that’s climbed at the end of the movie and the capture of the Hill, was inspired by the story of Yogendra Singh Yadav. On the other hand, more missions were being conducted to recapture the remaining hilltops. Capturing Point 4875 was one of them. For this mission too, Captain Vikram Batra was assigned. This time his battle companion was captain Anuj Nayyar. On the morning of 8th July, he was successful at his mission of capturing this peak.
The mission was almost completed. Captain Vikram Batra came out of his bunker, to rescue a Lieutenant Who had lost his legs because of an explosion. No sooner than he had gone out to help the Lieutenant, the enemy that was retreating fired a bullet that hit him in the chest.
And unfortunately, he was martyred. India won at Point 4875 but had to lose two heroes Captain Vikram Batra and Captain Anuj Nayyar. Today, this point is known as Batra Top. The Battle at Point 4875 was a major landmark of the Kargil War. That had almost sealed India’s victory. Two days later, on 11th July, the Pakistani Army started to withdraw. And India had captured the remaining major points of the Batalik.
On 14th July, Prime Minister Vajpayee declared Operation Vijay to be a success. And on 26th July, the Kargil War officially ended when the Indian Army announced that all the intruders had been completely evicted from the Indian territory. Now, 26th July is celebrated as Kargil Vijay Diwas (Kargil Victory Day). Some months later, in October 1999, a bloodless coup takes place in Pakistan.
Nawaz Sharif gets detained and Pakistan’s Army General Pervez Musharraf suspends the Constitution, declares an emergency in the country, and takes over control of the country. The internal politics of Pakistan becomes clearly evident here. Later it is revealed that Pervez Musharraf was actually the Chief Strategist of the Kargil plan.
It was his idea to intrude into India dressed as Kashmiri militants. And do everything. All the peace talks between India and Pakistan, to end them all completely. On the other hand, Nawaz Sharif claims that he had no idea that the Pakistani Army had come up with the Kargil plan. In 2019, Pervez Musharraf was given a death sentence by a court in Pakistan. On the charges of treason.
To act against his country. Although later, Lahore High Court overturns this. On the other hand, in India, India’s highest gallantry medal, the Param Vir Chakra, is awarded to 4 soldiers. Captain Vikram Batra, Lieutenant Manoj Kumar Pandey, Rifleman Sanjay Kumar, and Grenadier Yogendra Singh Yadav. Overall, it is estimated that around 527 Indian soldiers were martyred in the Kargil War.
And around 1,300 were injured. Another unfortunate thing that happened was that all the efforts made by PM Vajpayee to maintain peace between India and Pakistan, it went in vain.
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