Monday, 22 July 2013

THE STORY OF KARGIL WAR: PART 6

MANOJ KUMAR PANDEY

Captain Manoj Kumar Pandey, PVC (25 June 1975, Sitapur, Uttar Pradesh - 2/3 July 1999, Kashmir),was an officer of the Indian Army of the regiment 1/11 Gurkha Rifles, posthumously awarded the India's highest military honour, Param Vir Chakra for his audacious courage and leadership during adverse times. He died during the attack on Jubar Top, Khalubar Hills in Batalik Sector, Kargil.

PERSONAL LIFE:

IC 56959W Captain Manoj Pandey, PVC belonged to Sitapur in Uttar Pradesh. He was the son of Shri Gopi Chand Pandey, a small time businessman living in lko. He was eldest in his family. He was educated at Sainik School, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh and Rani Laxmi Bai Memorial Senior Secondary School. He had a keen interest in sports with boxing and body building in particular. He passed out from National Defence Academy in 90th course and stayed in MIKE squadron. He wanted to join Gurkha Rifles and got commissioned in the 1/11 Gurkha Rifles of the Indian Army.
Prior to his selection, during his Services Selection Board (SSB) interview, the interviewer asked him, "Why you want to join the Army?" He immediately replied, "I want to win the Param Vir Chakra." True to his words, Captain Manoj Kumar Pandey did win the country's highest gallantry honour but posthumously.

KARGIL:

He forced back the intruders on June 11, 1999 at Batalik Sector in the Kargil War. He led his men to capture the Jubar top which was considered as important due to its strategic location. Quickly sizing up the situation, the young officer led his platoon along a narrow, treacherous ridge that led to the enemy position. While still short of the objective, the enemy fired upon the Indian soldiers effectively stalling the Indian attack. Displaying great courage, he surged ahead of his troops and charged at the enemy with a full-throated battle cry through a hail of bullets.
Although wounded in the shoulder and leg, he pressed on his solitary charge with grim determination, until he closed in on the first bunker. Then in ferocious hand-to-hand combat, he killed two of the enemy and cleared the first bunker. It was the turning point. Inspired by their leader's spontaneous valour, the troops charged at the enemy and fell upon them. Unmindful of his grievous wounds, he rushed from bunker to bunker urging his men on. Critically injured, he collapsed at the final bunker and finally succumbed to his injuries. But by this time he had already captured the bunker with his men.

OPERATION VIJAY:

Captain Manoj Kumar Pandey took part in a series of boldly led attacks during Operation Vijay; forcing back the intruders with heavy losses in Battlik including the capture of Jubbar Top.
On the night of 2/3 July 1999 during the advance to Khalubar as his platoon approached its final objective, it came under heavy and intense enemy fire from the surrounding heights. Captain Pandey was tasked to clear the interfering enemy positions to prevent his battalion from getting day lighted, being in a vulnerable position. He quickly moved his platoon to an advantageous position under intense enemy fire, sent one section to clear the enemy positions from the right and himself proceeded to clear the enemy positions from the left.

DEATH:

Fearlessly assaulting the first enemy position, he killed two enemy personnel and destroyed the second position by killing two more. He was injured on the shoulder and legs while clearing the third position. Undaunted and without caring for his grievous injuries, he continued to lead the assault on the fourth position urging his men and destroyed the same with a grenade, even as he got a fatal burst on his forehead.
His last words were "Na chhodnu" ("Don't Spare Them" in Nepali language). This singular daredevil act of Captain Pandey provided the critical firm base for the companies, which finally led to capture of Khalubar. The officer, however, succumbed to his injuries. Captain Manoj Kumar Pandey, thus, displayed most conspicuous bravery, indomitable courage, outstanding leadership and devotion to duty and made the supreme sacrifice in the highest traditions of the Indian Army.

LEGACY:

  • Manoj Kumar Pandey was awarded the Param Vir Chakra, India's highest medal for gallantry, posthumously.
  • His father, Mr. Gopichand Pandey, received the award from the President of India on the 52nd Indian Republic Day.
  • Manoj Pandey is considered a martyr for his sacrifice to his country. He remains as a role model to people everywhere.
  • The Army Welfare Housing Organization (AWHO) designed and constructed an apartment complex for veterans in Ghaziabad district, Uttar Pradesh, and named it for Pandey as Manoj Vihar.
  • The army quarters near the Cardio Thoracic Center(CTC) hospital in Pune is named after Martyr Capt Manoj Pandey as 'Capt. Manoj Pandey Enclave'
  • The National Defence Academy named the science block as the 'Manoj Pandey Block'.
  • A roundabout is also named after Martyr Capt.Manoj Pandey as "Captain Manoj Pandey Chowk" in his home district Sitapur, Uttar Pradesh and center of Gomti Nagar, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India.
  • A hall is made in the name of Capt. Manoj at Service Selection Center Allahabad (19 SSB) named as Manoj Pandey Block.

HIS DIARY:

  • Manoj used to maintain a personal dairy, where he penned down everything he learnt. In his personal diary he wrote "Some goals are so worthy, it's glorious even to fail".
  • On several instances, he poured his heart out. The poetry he wrote in the memory of his doting mother read: "She is the star which shines brightly in the darkness, some one who will always give and bless."
  • Just below the poem, are the four lines written in bold letters, which shows the metal, out of which Lt Manoj Kumar Pandey's Param Vir Chakra was carved: "If death strikes before I prove my blood, I promise (swear), I will kill death."

CITATION:

The citation for the Param Vir Chakra awarded to him reads:
Captain MANOJ KUMAR PANDEY
Captain Manoj Kumar Panday took part in a series of boldly led attacks during ‘operation Vijay; forcing back the intruders with heavy losses in Batalik including the capture of Jabbar Top. On the night of 2/3 July 1999 during the advance to Khalubar as his platoon approached its final objective, it came under heavy and intense enemy fire from the surrounding heights. Captain Pandey was tasked to clear the interfering enemy positions to prevent his battalion from getting day lighted, being in a vulnerable position. He quickly moved his platoon to an advantageous position under intense enemy fire, sent one section to clear the enemy positions from the right and himself proceeded to clear the enemy positions from the left. Fearlessly assaulting the first enemy position, he killed two enemy personnel and destroyed the second position by killing two more. He was injured on the shoulder and legs while clearing the third position. Undaunted and without caring for his grievous injuries, he continued to lead the assault on the fourth position urging his men and destroyed the same with a grenade, even as he got a fatal burst on his forehead. This singular daredevil act of Captain Pandey provided the critical firm base for the companies, which finally led to capture of Khalubar. The officer, however, succumbed to his injuries.
Captain Manoj Kumar Pandey, thus, displayed most conspicuous bravery, indomitable courage, outstanding leadership and devotion to duty and made the supreme sacrifice in the highest traditions of the Indian Army.

MARIAPPAN SARAVANAN


Major Mariappan Saravanan (10 August 1972 – 29 May 1999), was an officer in the prestigious Bihar Regiment of the Indian Army who was killed during the Kargil War. He was killed in hand to hand combat with intruders after killing four intruders in the Batalik area of Kargil Sector on 29 May 1999, along with 33 soldiers and four other officers. Saravanan had just completed four years of service on 10 March 1999.
Major Sarvanan was possibly the first officer killed in the Kargil War. The attack led by him came in the early stages of the conflict when adequate information was not available. The men in 1 Bihar took an oath after Maj. Sarvanan’s fall to fight to the finish and recover the heights, to the battle cry of ‘Bajrang Bali ki Jai’, they launched subsequent offensives that saw it not just take the heights but drive the Pakistanis all the way across the Line of Control.[1] His actions have led to him being referred to as the "Hero of Batalik".

CHILDHOOD:

Born on 10 August 1972 on the island of Rameswaram in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, Saravanan was commissioned into the famous Bihar Regiment on 11 March 1995 from OTA Chennai. He began his schooling at Kendriya Vidyalaya in Gaya district and later graduated from St. Joseph's College, Tiruchirapalli in 1992.
Saravanan was also the president of the student union at St. Joseph's College in 1992, an interesting development since the most popular candidate (Thirichelvam) could not stand for election that year and all support went to Saravanan. Saravanan at college had a thin body frame and is a C certificate holder of NCC INFANTRY UNIT.
His father Lt. Colonel Adi Mariappan died in a road accident in Bangalore in 1989 while serving in the Indian Peace Keeping Force during Operation Pawan in Sri Lanka. Major M Saravanan was survived by Mrs A Mariappan, his mother, and two sisters. The elder one, Chitra, is a doctor whereas the younger one Revathi is a Computer Engineer.

MILITARY CAREER:

The 27-year-old officer Saravanan, as a Major in the Indian Army fell defending the peaks of Batalik in the Kargil war.
After completing his schooling in various places—Belgaum, Kannoor, Gurdaspur, Jorhat and Bihar, he joined St Joseph's College in Tiruchi. "After college he tried to get into the National Defence Academy and landed up in the Officers Training Academy," says his closest friend Amalraj. He graduated from the OTA in 1995 and joined the First Bihar regiment as a lieutenant. After joining the Army he had served at places like Tamilpur, Cooch Behar and Bhutan before moving to Kargil. He was made captain the following year and major in 1999.
They were a bunch of three friends—Saravanan, Karthik and Amalraj. A few years ago, they had made a trip to Kanyakumari. On the way, their bus driver fell asleep on the wheel and crashed headlong into an incoming lorry. "Seven people died on the spot and many were injured. We students were in a shock. But not Saravanan, he was cool. He went about checking the dead. Then he helped the injured into passing vehicles and took them to hospital. It was his army background that made him react to an emergency so calmly and resolutely." Amalraj is an IPS officer now and the Deputy Inspector General of Police in the Trichy Range of Tamil Nadu.

THE KARGIL WAR:

The First Bihar Regiment was in Assam when the Kargil War broke out. They were ordered to move to Kargil, Jammu and Kashmir. From the heat of Assam to the cold of Kargil wasn't an easy change. There wasn't enough protective weather gear.
On the night of May 28, 1999, Major Sarvanan was assigned the task of capturing a well-fortified Pakistani position at 14,229 feet (4,337 m) in the Batalik sector. He and his men launched an attack at 04:00. Despite intensive firing from the enemy with artillery and automatic weapons, they charged into a volley of bullets. Saravanan fired a rocket launcher into the enemy position that killed two enemy soldiers. During the combat, he was hit by shrapnel and injured but continued fighting. His commanding officer ordered him to retreat because too many Indian soldiers had been injured. 'Genghis Khan fall back,' came the order. 'Not today sir, we are very close to the objective,' replied Sarvanan who was code named Genghis Khan. He killed two more invaders but this time he was hit by a bullet in the head at 06:30, his body nestled in the snow. A friend in Bangalore called his mother and told her Saravanan had died in Kargil. "We switched on the television and saw it in a news bulletin." Two days later, the official telegram arrived. "He was the first officer to fall".
The Vir Chakra was awarded to Saravanan posthumously and presented to his mother by President K. R. Narayanan. Its citation reads: "For our tomorrow..... he gave his today......".

MSMT-MAJOR SARAVANAN MEMORIAL TRUST:

The family of Saravanan had a long cherished desire to establish a Public Charitable Trust to Immortalize the name of the Great Martyr.
Many of his friends and relatives are desirous of contributing money and kind of this purpose. It has hence become necessary to streamline the inflow of money and ensure proper spending of the same in the name of Late Major Saravanan.Vr.C., In order to have a permanent arrangement, this trust has been made.
The Trust is meant for the welfare of the poor, indigent and needy to serve the society at large without any discrimination as to caste, colour and creed. Also it aims at motivating the youngsters to "Join the Army and serve the nation".

WAR MEMORIAL:

Major Saravanan, the legend, has been enshrined in the history of one of the most difficult and brutal wars ever fought by any Army. His name and his saga of extreme bravery has been etched in golden letters in the annals of the Indian Army as the entire nation stands as one to salute him.

Eight years post Kargil war, the memories of the gory battle fought on the inhospitable terrain of Dras and Batalik sectors in Jammu and Kashmir seem to be fading. Through the fading images of our heroes, one figure which looms larger than life is of Major Saravanan, the brave son of Tiruchirapalli city.
At a colourful function organised by 117(TA)Battalian,Trichy, Major General B.Sivasankar, General Officer Commanding, Head Quarters, Andhra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala area, unveiled the War Memorial on the Collector Office road, in the presence of Major General M S Balhara, Colonel of the Bihar Regiment and a large number of officials and men of the army, District Collector Ashish Vachchani, Senior police officials and a large number of common people.
The first side of the memorial has the portrait of Major Saravanan while the other two sides bear the citation of the brave martyr engraved in marbles, both in Tamil and English. A replica of his assault gun and cap is also mounted atop the memorial.
Mrs. Amirthavalli Mariyappan, the mother of Saravanan and his family were the first to place a wreath on the memorial, followed by army officials with full army honors.
In his address, Major General Sivashankar praised the war hero for his bravery and his mother for giving a son, who made the army and country proud, in a befitting manner. Saravana’s sacrifice will continue to inspire the future generation to serve the army and will be remembered fondly by one and all in the Indian army.
This historic memorial constructed and maintained by Major Saravanan Memorial Trust and construction cost Rs.725,000, fully spent by his mother Mrs. Amirthavalli Mariappan.

SPECIAL COVER AND CANCELLATION:

On the occasion of Kargil Vijay Divas on Saturday, 26 July 2008, the Postal Department brought out a special cover and cancellation in memory of Major M. Saravanan, the ‘Hero of Batalik’.
The Postmaster General, Central Region, Tiruchi S.P. Rajalingam released the first special cover and handed it over to K.K. Tripathi, Chief Commissioner of Income Tax, Tiruchi at a function organised by Major Saravanan Memorial Trust here.
Praising late Major Saravanan for his bravery during the Kargil War, Mr. Rajalingam said that the Postal Department took pride in bringing out a special cover in memory of the Kargil hero.
Mr. Tripathi said that the release of a special cover brought out in memory of Major Saravanan was a befitting tribute to the late Army officer who made the supreme sacrifice while fighting for the country.
"The sacrifices of our defence personnel should always be remembered", he said, adding that "Major Saravanan’s sacrifice did not go in vain".
Collector T. Soundiah, Mayor Sarubala R. Tondaiman, Colonel C.P. Medappa, Commanding Officer, 117 Infantry Battalion (Territorial Army) The Guards, Tiruchi, R.K. Jain, General Manager, Ordnance Factory, Tiruchi, Colonel Benz K. Jacob, Group Commander, NCC Group, Tiruchi, Mrs. Amirthavalli Mariappan, the mother of late Major Saravanan, and senior Army officers took part in the function.
"I am often referred to as the mother of the HERO OF BATTALIK I am proud that my son kept vigil over the frontiers even after his death, I am proud that my son was the first officer martyr from the Indian Army, and the last to come back home" said Mrs. Amirthavalli Mariappan, the mother of late Major Saravanan.
Major Saravanan even after his death his body was staking claim of the land that is rightfully India's.

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