Kargil War 1999

Seven Hour Battle that won India, Tiger Hill

© The Pioneer - 18 May 2005

Major Dhan Singh ThapaGrenadier Yogendra Singh Yadav, an Indian Army soldier instrumental in capturing the strategic Tiger Hill during the Kargil War, has been provided with a plot of land in Lajpat Nagar Colony of Ghaziadbad by the Uttar Pradesh Government. He was awarded the Param Vir Chakra - the country's highest gallantry award - and he spoke about how jawans captured Tiger Hill in an exclusive tête-à-tête. A resident of Aurangabad Ahir under the Bulandshahr District, Uttar Pradesh he is a 25-year-old soldier. While he and his elder Jitendra have both been in the Army since December 1996, his younger brother Deepak is a student. He lost his father two months ago and his mother Shanmta Devi looks after the family farms.

It was 10:30 a.m. on July 5, 1999 at 16,500 feet above the sea level. We were 25 soldiers of the 18 Granadiers unit of the Indian Army. We were ordered to advance to capture Tiger Hill in the Drass Sector. After scaling the rocks for three nights, we were just 50 metres below Tiger Hill. As chance would have it, a stone slipped during our scaling operation. As the stone rolled down, it provoked heavy crossfire from the Pakistani bunkers which were just 10 meters above us. Due to the heavy firing, 18 of our jawans and officers had to retreat. Now, we were just seven jawans near the Pakistani bunkers. We were in a precarious situation, neither could we advance nor retreat. We thus had to wait for the right opportunity. By then, the enemy had deployed a company of 135 soldiers on top of Tiger Hill. After the firing stopped, we (seven of us) slowly began advancing to capture the Pakistani bunkers, just 10 metres away from us. At about 11:30 a.m. we opened fire at the bunker and gunned down four Pakistani soldiers. After we captured the Pakistani bunker, the Pakistan Army from the top of Tiger Hill sent 10 jawans to assess our strength.

Tiger Hill was just 40 metres away from us. As they moved near, we gunned down eight of them. Two escaped and reported back to their bosses that there were seven of us. After the preparations at 11:30 a.m. on the same day, 100 Pakistani Army men attacked our bunker. The attack was fierce, though we could gun down 35 Pakistani soldiers, I lost all six of my comrades. I carried 25 kg of ammunition with me and I almost got my ammunition exhausted and a re-supply wasn't possible from below. It was a very critical time. I was the sole survivor with six of my colleagues already dead and I was amid the corpses of Indian and Pakistani soldiers. The Pakistani troops thought they had destroyed the Indian Army below Tiger Hill. To ensure that all Indian jawans were dead, they shot at the bodies of Indian soldiers. I sustained about 15 gunshot injuries on my legs, arms, thigh and in other parts of my body. The Pakistanis were sure that I was dead. Then they took away the weapons from the bodies. But one soldier forgot the grenade that lay in my pocket. Meanwhile, I regained consciousness. And after that things moved fast. I took out my grenade, pulled the pin and threw it at the enemy. It fell in the enemy's cap which was hanging behind his neck. It exploded before he could react. After the explosion, his body was blown off in the air plunging the Pakistani Army camp into confusion - they thought that the Indian Army had attacked.

By then, I picked up the Peeka Rifle of a Pakistani soldier lying nearby and I opened fire which left five Pakistani soldiers dead. After my attack, the enemy camp thought that it was the Indian Army which had attacked them. I heard the order on their wireless to retreat from the Tiger Hill and further heard the instruction to attack the Indian MMG-base 500 metres below Tiger Hill. My main task was now to save the MMG base. But by that time, I had lost too much blood and was unable to stay conscious. I decided to move through a drain. I dumped myself in the drain covering my head. Now within five minutes I was below 400 meters and I saw my boss, Lieutenant Balwan. I told him that the Pakistanis wanted to attack the MMG base and had vacated Tiger Hill. On this tip-off, the officials deployed 'Charlie' and 'Delta' companies at Tiger Hill and deployed 'Bravo' company to save the MMG base. After a few minutes, Pakistani forces attacked the MMG base. This battle resulted in all the Pakistani soldiers being killed, since we had prior information of their arrival. Meanwhile, the 'Delta' and 'Charlie' companies had captured Tiger Hill. The war of seven hours was over and this is how we won Tiger Hill!