Tiger Hill the soldiers won more than the case of Scotch promised by Gen.
In shell-battered Dras,
it was time for celebration on July 4. On that Sunday morning the Indian
soldiers had recaptured Tiger Hill after a fierce battle with the intruders.
In operation bunkers the officers shook hands, hugged one another and rang
up the Corps Command in Srinagar and Army Headquarters in New Delhi to
convey the good news.
divine help: Soldiers praying before the final assault on Tiger Hill
The smiles turned into guffaws 24
hours later, when they were told that the Pakistani Television had denied
the very existence of Tiger Hill. At this rate, said an officer, Pakistan
would say that there was no Kargil, Dras, Batalik and Turtuk once the infiltrators
were routed. "It is like saying that after the 1971 war East Pakistan never
existed," quipped another.
The capture of the highest peak in
the sector has been crucial to the army's plans ever since Tololing was
snatched in June. Tiger Hill has been the subject of discussion in the
mess of the 56 Brigade, headquartered at Dras. When Tololing was captured,
army chief General V.P. Malik presented a bottle of Scotch to Brigadier
Amar Aul, commanding officer of the brigade, and promised a case of Scotch
for the brigade when they captured Tiger Hill.
The sheer height of the Hill provided
the best observation point for the infiltrators; from there they could
scan the 56 Brigade headquarters and the Srinagar-Leh National Highway,
and relay the information to Pakistani soldiers across the border.
Further, Tiger Hill leads on to Mushko
Valley where the infiltrators have occupied not only the peaks but also
the lower reaches and parts of the valley itself. Since Mushko is closer
to the Line of Control, Pakistan has been keeping the infiltration points
well supplied. Control of Tiger Hill will give India the vantage observation
point to attack Pakistani positions in Mushko and surrounding peaks.
conquest: The Tiger Hill as seen from Dras
As the cover fire bottled the infiltrators
up in their bunkers, the 18 Grenadiers, the second battalion of Naga Regiment
and the eighth battalion of Sikh Regiment completed the work of setting
up base camps half way up the mountain. The assault team had 200 men from
the three elite units, backed up by their colleagues who looked after signals,
rearguard, supplies and ammunition thread. Each raider had 10 men behind
Such was the determination of the
advance party that most of the Grenadiers abandoned their rations to carry
extra fire power. Some of them did not eat for the full 36 hours of the
operation. Their first meal was the dates left behind by the intruders!
While the Alpha, Charlie and Ghatak
companies of the 18 Grenadiers attacked the rear, the Nagas were on the
left flank, and the Sikhs on the right. The assault began at 5.15 p.m.
on July 3 with Bofors guns booming. By 7 p.m. three rocket launchers joined
the action. Thirty minutes later, shells from across the LOC pounded the
road to the foothills of Tiger Hill and the soldiers rushed to safety.
They were back to their positions soon with one more rocket launcher.
Meanwhile, the Grenadiers had moved
up towards their target. There was little resistance on the way, as the
sky show confined the infiltrators to the safety of their bunks. By 4 a.m.
the soldiers confronted the infiltrators at the hill top; 10 intruders
were killed while 2 escaped. Five soldiers also lost their lives in the
By 6.50 a.m. on July 4 three shell
bursts announced that Tiger Hill top had been captured. Within 24 hours
Gen. V.P. Malik had given instant battlefield honour to the Grenadiers,
making them the second regiment after Rajputana Rifles to get this honour
in the Kargil battle.
The achievement has not made the
soldiers complacent. At the time of reporting they were gearing up for
the battles ahead. And to down the very special Scotch from the chief!
Courtesy: THE WEEK