‘If death strikes before I prove my blood, I promise, I will kill death’ – excerpt from the diary of late Captain Manoj Kumar Pandey (25 June 1975- 3 July 1999)
Kargil war is marked as one of the bloodiest battle fought on Indian soil, claiming lives of many brave Indian soldiers like Anuj Nayyar, Vikram Batra and Manoj Pandey. Despite being hit by bullets, these brave soldiers gave a furious reply to invaders by striking them out with bullets and recapturing all the points that belonged to our nation. Kargil war was a tense situation for India. All the official holiday of army officers were cancelled. All the young army officers – Vikram Batra, Anuj Nayyar and Manoj Pandey were assigned different points to recapture from the enemy. Captain Manoj Pandey was assigned to recapture Jubar top during the mission – Operation Vijay.
Even the chilling cold, fatiguing battle hours couldn’t deter the spirit of Captain Manoj Pandey. He always found time to record his thoughts in diary, expressing his love for nation. From his childhood, Manoj was always enthusiastic to know the stories of patriots from his mother. During his interview at Service Selection Board, he was questioned – Why do you want to join the army? Manoj replied by saying “I want to win the Paramvir Chakra. Manoj Pandey not only qualified the interview but also joined the 1/11 Gorkha Rifles Unit. His words in interview proved true. He was awarded the Paramvir Chakra post his martyrdom at Kargil war.
Operation Vijay and final martyrdom – Captain Manoj and his team captured many points and Batalik sector was one of them. They outnumbered the enemies with their strategic valor and dare devilry. He proved his dare devilry in capturing the point of Jubar Top during Operation Vijay. 3rd July 1999 was going to be a historic day in life of Captain Manoj Pandey. Braving the chilling weather, Captain Pandey and his team marched on to recapture Khalubar point from invaders. He took the task of confronting the enemies from right while his rest of team took position of attacking the enemies from left side. He pounced on the enemies like a tiger, ripping them apart with his weapon. The enemies were no match to this brave heart. He killed four soldiers on Khalubar points. But this skirmish left Manoj fatally wounded on shoulder and legs. Despite facing the wounds, Manoj was firm on driving away the intruders. He destroyed all the bunkers of enemies with his bullets and grenade.
The bullet wounds and heavy grenade explosions in this action finally struck a deathly blow on Manoj. This brave hero finally collapsed on the battlefield. Even in his last moments, he was motivating his soldiers to slay all the enemies. The Khalubar point was recaptured, but Captain Manoj Pandey was no more.
The weather conditions on battle front are so worse that many soldiers face breathing problems due to low oxygen while climbing high mountain peaks. Even the weapons get frozen due to cold. If you hold a frozen weapon, the skin may get ripped off. Imagine what situations these soldiers go through. As a civilian, we are too lazy even to go office on Monday mornings. Nowadays majority of youngsters are keen to get settled in foreign countries with a fat salary in some multinational company. Is this patriotism? After growing up in India, people leave their parents and their nation for a luxurious life in some foreign nation.
For today’s generation, heroism and smartness is going on bike trips to Ladakh, wooing hot chicks and cheering cricket players on stadiums and enjoying cuisines in restaurants. This is not heroism. During Kargil war, Captain Manoj Pandey even stayed empty stomach during war times. He cared more for ammunitions than food rations. Sadly today’s generation hardly pays any heed to the great sacrifice made by soldiers like Captain Manoj Pandey.
Prior to the war at Kargil front, a brave Indian soldier was taken captive by the invaders. His name was Captain Saurabh Kalia. Captain Saurabh was the first army officer who got the hint of invaders marching towards Kargil. During a skirmish with the enemies on 15th May 1999, Captain Saurabh and his team fell short of ammunition. They were taken as prisoners of war by the invaders. Captain Saurabh and his fellow team were tortured for 22 days and finally killed. Captain Saurabh’s body was handed over to his parents on 9th June 1999. Sadly, very few people are aware of sacrifice of Captain Saurabh who died as an unsung hero for nation.
Kargil war was victorious but had lost lot of brave soldiers like Saurabh Kalia, Vijayant Thapar, Padmapani Acharya, Manoj Pandey, Anuj Nayyar and Vikram Batra.
In movies and books – The role of Captain Manoj Pandey was played by Ajay Devgan in 2003 movie – LOC: Kargil. Even Amar Chitra Katha published a comic book based on life of Indian soldiers. Manoj Kumar Pandey’s story featured in this Amar Chitra Comic book.
Captain Manoj Pandey was awarded the Paramvir Chakra posthumously. His valor was an inspiration to every Indian. Through this article I want to pay homage to all the Indian soldiers of Kargil war who laid their life for sake of nation.
I conclude this article with these words written by Captain Manoj Pandey in his diary.
“Some goals are so worthy, it’s glorious even to fail”.