Books | Blood, Sweat and Tears

How 18 Grenadiers won Tiger Hills during the Kargil conflict. An extract

Capt. (Hony) Yogendra Singh Yadav (retd)

THE HERO OF TIGER HILLIt went on like this for a very long time. Every moment, some or the other comrade was getting hurt or breathing his last. But we had made up our minds-we would not retreat come what may!

I noticed that a fellow who fired sniper rifles, was surrounded by Pakistanis. So Anant Ram, a comrade who had trained with me, and I had to go to him to help. As soon as I advanced towards him to help, a grenade fell near me and burst. A shrapnel from it hit me behind my knee. The piercing pain made me feel like my leg had been cut off.

As I fell, I looked back to see the extent of damage the grenade had done. I noticed that leg had not been cut off, but the wound was very deep. I started giving myself first aid. As I was doing it, another grenade burst in front of me and a shrapnel hit me under my eye and nose, causing a deep wound. I felt that I had lost my eyes.

For a long time, I could see nothing. I lay there behind the rock. With time, I could see some light seeping into my eyes. When I looked at myself, I saw that my whole body was covered with blood. My nose was bleeding heavily. I tried hard to control it, but in vain. Then I mustered up all my courage and somehow dragged myself to my comrade Lance Naik Naresh Kumar. He was trying to make his bunker higher and firing back at those who were firing at him, all at the same time.

I sat with my back to a rock and started firing, trying to clean the blood from my nose. Then I told Naresh to give me first aid as I had lost a lot of blood. He looked at me and said, ‘I’ll do it soon. Keep on firing.’

I said, ‘Right sir.’

After some time, he took his field patti from his pocket. Just as he raised his hand to open it, a bullet hit him on the head. His head burst open and blood oozed out.

I held his hand because he was falling backwards. I could still only see hazily, so I wasn’t sure what had happened.

I said, ‘What happened sir? Say something!’

I couldn’t hear anything except gunfire, and I understood what must have happened.

Anant Ram was sitting by my side. I said to him. ‘Sir has been hit by a bullet.’

He was stunned. Just as he was about to say something, a bullet hit him on the chest and he was gone in a moment.

I called out to my mates down below, ‘Sir, two jawans have been hit.’

A voice asked, ‘How are they?

I tried to sound brave as I said, ‘We have lost them, sir.’

I could say only this when bullets rained on us afresh. The enemy had surrounded us on three sides.

That was indeed a very painful moment. Even today when I start talking about it, when I think about the brave and dutiful soldiers who laid down their lives for their country, tears start flowing from my eyes.

There were three or four of us and the enemies were no less than thirty-five. The guns spewed fire and bodies of soldiers of both sides lay scattered. The last thought of our jawans was that their own deaths did not matter; the Army should win.

All my comrades had laid down their lives for their country. I was partially sitting among them, my body covered with blood. I remembered the lines I had heard somewhere.

Boundaries are not drawn on paper in ink; they are made up by the swords of the brave.

The enemy shot at my fellows, who were already dead, to ensure that they weren’t alive.




As I was watching all this, a Pakistani soldier started firing at me. He shot at my left hand and right leg. I could see a sort of smoke coming out of the places where the bullets hit me.

I lay quietly in spite of the intolerable pain. No soldier leaves his enemy alive. These soldiers were firing at us to see if anyone was alive. Finally, they were convinced that everyone on our side had died.

I lay helpless, suppressing my pain, but did not lose my mental strength. My spirituality helped me maintain calm in the face of such grave adversity. I kept up my courage and patience. In a situation like this, it is very important to be in full control of your sense. I was looking for an opportunity when they became careless and I could do something.

Just then, their commander sent a message to their base comp in Mushkoh valley. He said ‘We have killed a group of Hindustani soldiers who had come near the top. There is a medium machine gun post below. You wait for us there. We are coming down.’

I heard this. I thought if they are able to go down, my entire team would be wiped out. Unable to think of a way to stop them, I prayed to god, ‘Oh almighty give me enough strength so that I am able to send this information to my mates to save their lives.’

Just then, their commander said, ‘Take possession of their weapons.’

One Pakistani soldier was shooting at the dead bodies, the other one was picking up the weapons lying near the bodies. He again shot at my arms and legs and I bore the pain. The bones and flesh were sticking out of my arms and legs. I did not care about that. I told myself that I would not die unless they shot me on the head or chest. I would not let out the slightest groan even if they cut off both my arms and legs. I think this mental strength came in handy and I held fort with some spiritual energy.

I had let this thought fill my mind—I will not die unless I am hit on the head or chest.

It is true that if you let any thought sink firmly into your mind and subconscious, your hormones act accordingly. Our body also responds accordingly to our hormones. I had convinced myself that I would not die unless shot on the chest or the head. Just then, the Pakistani soldier turned back and pointed his gun at my chest.

I was watching all this with eyes half closed. It is said that if you surrender yourself selflessly, god protects you by taking you within himself. I had surrendered fully to god. In that moment, I realized why we referred to our country as Mother India. The land on which I lay was not just sand, stones and pebbles; it was a living being. This mother has never let the courage and bravery of her sons go waste. That day too, she saved me.

Perhaps, at that moment, she decided to listen to my plea. The soldier did shoot at me, but the bullet hit the coins in a wallet in my pocket and was deflected in another direction.

When the bullet hit me, I thought I had died. But no one can kill you if god does not will it. Then another Pakistani soldier came close to me. He took my AK 47 and walked away. I think his foot touched my leg, and the shooting pain suddenly left a burst of consciousness. I realized that I was alive.

Then a voice within me said, ‘You are alive. Nobody can kill you now. I took out a grenade, removed its pin and threw it at the Pakistani soldier. It got stuck in his jacket’s hoodie and he looked back. But he saw only what he thought were dead bodies.

He did not realize that the grenade was still stuck in his hoodie. He tried to take it off his jacket.

In the meantime, the grenade burst.

Half of his head disappeared, and he fell on us. The explosion startled the Pakistanis who had started celebrating their victory, thinking they were quite safe now. It caused a grave chaos among them.

Some said that they should fire in this direction; others said it was no use as we were all dead. They should fire in the other direction. Some felt that another team of Indian soldiers must have come up.

As they were confused regarding what course of action to take, I pushed away the dead body of the Pakistani soldiers on top of me and extended both my hands to grab his rifle. I realized then that my right shoulder was moving, but the rest of the arm was numb.

I picked up the rifle with one hand and fired from behind the rock. Four soldiers of the enemy were killed in this firing. Then I fired again from behind another rock. In this way, I changed location and fired from three to four different locations. They felt that the Indian forces had come up from below and attacked them from different point behind the rocks.

This renewed attack devastated them completely. They started running towards the top. I also dragged myself from behind the rocks and kept on firing at them. When I noticed how they were running away to save their lives, I understood the difference between the enemy soldiers and us.

I chased them for about five metres by dragging my lifeless body. I looked down and noticed that their langar was in progress. I could see where their deployment of weapons and their living tents were. I watched all this for quite some time and saved it all in my memory. I kept on thinking of ways to save our post and fellow soldiers. After stopping there for some time, I dragged myself to where my fellow soldiers were. Slowly, I crawled to where my comrades lay.

I wondered if one of them might be alive, like me. I could hear someone breathing. I looked at them-One had his head blown apart and the bullets had ripped open the chest and body of another. Looking for someone who was still bodies in that pile of dead bodies was like looking for water in a desert. I felt very disappointed and wept a lot. Then tried to console myself and pepped up myself to do something.

The broken bone of my left arm had come out of the body. It seemed as if the arm had been cut off from below the shoulder. When the shoulder bone rubbed against the cut off pieces of bone on the arm, the pain was intolerable. I bore the pain as best as I could, but knew I had to do something fast.

I constantly prayed to god to give me strength so that I could somehow go to the post below. When I looked around, I could see only mountains and snow. There seemed to be no way to get out of this place. I wondered what I could do at those critical circumstances.

On the other hand, my broken arm which was dangling started paining more and more. I had to do something. I had joined the Army at the tender age of seventeen and had served for two-and-a-half years. I was barely nineteen now so I had no experience to deal with such a situation. My only aim was to fulfill what I wanted to do. If I had any power of speech left the last words would be ‘Vande Mataram’.

With this feeling, I tried to keep the broken part of my arm away from my body so that it would hurt less. If man tries to work selflessly even in his last hours, he is helped by divine powers. It was as if someone was telling me, ‘Go down this way!

I tucked my dangling arm in my belt so that it didn’t interfere with my movement. Then, I started rolling down in the direction my heart pointed at. Finally, I managed to roll down in a nallah below.

I could see a deep abyss below me and I hung there, clinging on to a rock. I started wondering if I had come to the Pakistani side. As I looked below me to my left and right, I could see some soldiers. Fortunately, I recognized one of them. He had been with us but was unable to come up because of the firing. I called out to him for help. He looked up and could see a soldier hanging on to a rock. Immediately, two or three soldiers came to me and got me down from the rock.

When they looked at my condition, they thought I was going to die. Of course, they gave me false assurances that nothing had happened to me and I would soon be alright.

I said more confidently than ever, ‘Nothing will happen to me. Those soldiers are going to attack this post. Save it.’

Those soldiers did my dressing. I told them everything that had happened up there. When our CO Col. Khushal Thakur was informed about me. He wanted to meet me immediately.

It must have been about 2:00 p.m. Since I had asked for water, some of my comrades went to fetch it. They had made me lie in the shade of a rock close to the nallah. A jawan who was sitting close to me was a friend and was constantly crying. I was drifting in and out of consciousness. I asked him, ‘Sir, why are you crying?

He said, ‘Looking at you is making me cry.’

I said, ‘Nothing will happen to me. Just give me some water. Why is it taking so long to get water?

I did not know when they would b able to take me down. It is easy to climb up a mountain but tougher to go down, that too with a wounded soldier.

The soldiers came back after some time. They had also been hungry for two days. Maybe they had eaten something down there. After all, they would have to carry me down and then come up again.

They gave me some hot water to drink, then carried me down on their shoulders. I was carried to the CO. There, I was made to lie on a sleeping bag on a stretcher.

Immediately, CO Col. Thakur asked me, ‘How are you, son?

I said, ‘I am fine sir. We lost all the soldiers up there. I am feeling very cold and cannot see anything.’

Hearing this, the CO made me lie in his tent where he lit three stoves. When the tent became warmer, I also felt warm.

Then he asked, ‘Can you tell me what the situation is up there?

I said, ‘Of course sir. I can tell you everything.’

Then I described everything that had happened and he listened very carefully.

Then he asked me about our food rations. I said, ‘Since we left you sir, and that was seventy-two hours back, two of us jawans had shared half a packet of biscuits. We need not just food rations but also field bandages and ammunition. The number of enemy soldiers is almost ten times compared to us.’

The effort of talking was too much for me and my speech started failing. I asked for water, but he refused as he did not want to give me anything without the consent of the doctor.

Then the doctor at the Regimental Aid Post (RAP) came and gave me glucose to drink. This brought back some life within me.

The doctor and the CO talked for some time. In between, the doctor gave me an injection and I lost consciousness completely. I did not know what was happening around me or where I was taken. I knew nothing.

Maybe during the night, I was taken down from the mountain. When they were taking off my boots, the right one could not be taken off. When they pulled at it hard, it pained a lot and I opened my eyes again. I told them that something was stuck in my foot.

Then they noticed that a piece of grenade was stuck in it, right up to my toe. They took it out and then took off the boot. I could not feel any of that.

I regained consciousness after three days and saw that I was in a hospital in Srinagar. There I came to know that our team had launched another attack and managed to hoist our tiranga on Tiger Hill. That is what I had been waiting to hear for so many days. My fellows had finally completed what we had started. It was a victory for the country and all of us in the Armed Forces.

Capt. (Hony) Yogendra Singh Yadav
Bold, an imprint of Srishti Publishers & Distributors, Pg 192, Rs 350



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