When Vikram Batra whould have reached the gates of heaven after being martyred on the blood soaked ridge-line of Point 4875, one man must have been waiting there to welcome him…SherShah Suri. The real Sher Shah must have praised Capt. Batra for being an outstanding Commander like himself and for also making sure that the name ‘Sher Shah’ was touching great heights of glory and honor.
‘Sher Shah’ was a call sign given to Vikram Batra, by his Commander. Vikram was a young officer belonging to 13 Jammu and Kashmir Rifles. His unit had been ordered to capture point 5140, the highest peak in Tololing Ridge on 19th June.
Lets get some perspective first. Kargil war was fought in three main sectors- Dras, Kargil and Batalik. If one travels east, from Srinagar to Leh, Dras was the first sector they would encounter. It had many prominent features like the famous Tiger Hill, Tololing Top, Three pimples, point 4875 etc. all overlooking the NH 1D. Pakistanis were using these vantage points to direct some really accurate artillery firing from other side of the LOC. As Drass was the westernmost sector, it was imperative for the Army to clear out all enemy positions here, so that supplies and logistics to the other two sectors further east on the road could be flowing smoothly. On June 13, as a pivotal moment in the war, Tololing Top was captured after a bitterly fought battle costing many Indian lives. But, this win didn’t mean that the task was done. The Pakistanis had very intelligently occupied all the important peaks and also placed fortifications on all the spurs and ridge lines, leading to those peaks.
To capture 5140, Capt. Batra came up with an ingenious plan. Instead of going for a frontal attack, he guided his company across the eastern spur of the tall peak, then made a daredevil ascent from the rear. Pakistani men on the top soon realized that the attack was coming from rear and pinned down Batra and his men by machine gun fire. Batra and his men crawled up, inch by inch…while Pakistanis taunted them from the top…even asking for the ‘Dhak Dhak girl’ as compensation for leaving the post.
Capt. Batra led a brilliant assault in the wee hours of 20th June and was involved in hand to hand combat, at the end of which, he had killed 4 intruders. His troops captured point 5140 without losing a single man, a feat applauded even by the then Army Chief Gen. Malik. They captured some serious military hardware like the Universal Machine Gun shown in the image below.
Charged up with the stupendous victory, Vikram Batra had told his commanding officer ‘Ye Dil Maange more’…and that simple ad-line became eternal. Now, the Indians were sitting on the highest point in the ridge and this facilitated quick victories on surrounding features…culminating in the famous re-capture of Tiger Hill on 04 July.
But again, Tiger Hill was just one of the features. Close by was another challenging peak, point 4875.
This was a rather difficult, bordering on impossible, peak to attack…with steep slopes and very narrow spurs or ridge lines. There was only one way up and it was duly covered with heavy firepower by the enemy. They had built multiple bunkers armed with machine guns. Another brave officer Capt. Anuj Nayyar of 17 Jat, led his company in clearing out all the four machine gun bunkers built on the narrow ridge line. Capt. Nayyar made the supreme sacrifice while clearing out the fourth bunker on July 6th…a rocket propelled grenade hit him square in the chest. His men, enraged at the death of their brave commander would attack the enemy with unrelenting ferociousness and audacity which would result in the capture of point 4875…but none of Nayyar’s men would survive the battle. Capt. Anuj Nayyar was awarded the Mahavir Chakra for his awe-inspiring bravery and battlefield prowess.
Captain Batra’s company couldn’t let the sacrifice made by Nayyar and his men, go in vain. He and his company would repulse attack after attack by the Pakistanis to reclaim point 4875 as it remained the only vantage point for them in the Mushkoh valley. Captain Batra lived up to the letter and soul of the motto meant for every Gentleman Cadet of IMA –
The safety, honor and welfare of your country come first always and everytime.
The honor, welfare and comfort of the men you command come next.
Your own ease, comfort and safety come last, always and everytime.
He pulled back his junior officer while going out to rescue an injured colleague. ‘Tu Baal bachchedar hai…peeche hat ja’ (You have a family…let me go ahead)
As he stepped out to rescue his colleague, a Pakistani bullet pierced his chest…before closing his eyes forever, he uttered the war-cry of his battalion as his last words- ‘Jai Mata Di’.
Captain Batra made this supreme sacrifice on July 8th, 1999. His father in an emotional interview had hinted that he could feel his son had got the intuition that he may not be returning alive from the war. His mother still remembers the day, when she came home on July 9 and neighbors told her that two Army officers had paid visit. She knew at that very moment that something very serious had happened to her son. Vikram Batra had told her earlier that either he would unfurl the ‘Tiranga’ on the peaks of Kargil or come wrapped in it after making the supreme sacrifice.
Captain Vikram Batra is a real youth icon…a charismatic and skillful leader…a brave soldier…a brilliant tactician…and a real lion heart.