Param Vir Chakra : Grenadier Yogender Singh Yadav
The Kargil War of 1999 was fought in one of the most inhospitable battle fields in the world – Dras being one of the coldest habitations known to man due to the ‘wind chill factor caused by icy winds that sweep down from the forbidding height of the higher Himalayas. This war was fought from May to July 1999 at heights above 1600 feet across a 200 km trans-Himalayan front at Muskhoh, Dras, Kaksar, Batalik, Yaldor and Turtok, where snow, ice, avalanches and Blizzards, lack of oxygen and minus zero degree temperatures make survival close to impossible. Pakistan violated the Shimla Agreement by encroaching across the Line of Control (LOC) and occupying key locations in the Kargil area in February-March 1999. Her aim was to sever the Srinagar-Leh Highway (NH1A), thereby isolating Kargil and terminating Indias lifeline to Ladakh and the Siachen Glacier. Strangely, an Indian Army general, in a corps war game while playing the part of a Pakistani general, projected a similar plan including the capture of Tiger Hill and Tololing. This, however, was considered improbable because of the terrain and weather conditions. Further, Pakistan was negotiating a peace agreement with India who was not aware that Pakistan ‘While Talking Peace was pushing her troops across the LOC. This is just one more incident to prove that Pakistan can never be trusted! 23 Indian Army officers and jawans were killed in this war
and 54 officers and 629 jawans were wounded – many of them disabled for life.
The Kargil sector has huge unheld gaps, each extending between 10 to 35 km. Because of the inaccessible ground conditions, both India and Pakistan used to maintain posts only in summer from where they launched patrols to ensure against intrusion and withdraw in winter when heavy snow, avalanches and blizzards make survival extremely difficult. The Pakistan army having occupied the commanding height held the ‘Upper hand and felt invincible but failed to reckon with the courage of the Indian soldiers led by their brave officers. The close coordination between the Indian Army and the Air Force paved the way to impossible victories. Faced with an impending defeat, the Pakistani prime minister, Nawaz Sharif raced across to the US, to beseech Bill Clinton to intervene and stop a war that they had themselves initiated. But it was too late, because by that time the war had already been won and Pakistan had nothing to show for her efforts except an abject and humiliating defeat. It was during this war that a brave, young soldier from 18 Grenadier, Yogender Singh Yadav was awarded the Param Vir Chakra – for courage beyond the call of duty.
Major General Ian Cardozo was born in Mumbai and studied at St Xavier’s School and College. In July 1954, he joined the Joint Services Wing which later became the National Defence Academy. Here he was the first cadet to win the gold medal for being the best all-round cadet, and the silver medal for being first in order of merit. He was commissioned at the Indian Military Academy into the 1st Battalion the Fifth Gorkha Rifles (FF) in 1958, and was the first officer of the Army to be awarded the Sena Medal for gallantry on a patrol in NEFA in 1959. Wounded in the battle of Sylhet in Bangladesh in 1971, he overcame the handicap of losing a leg and became the first war-disabled officer to be approved for command of an Infantry Battalion. He retired in 1993 from his appointment as Chief of Staff of a Corps in the East. Author of The Sinking of INS-Khukri: Survivor’s Stories and Param Vir: Our Heroes in Battle, he has worked with the Spastics Society of Northern India and was chairman of the Rehabilitation Council of India for nine years. At present he is the Vice President of the War Wounded Foundation.
Rishi Kumar is a graduate from Delhi College of Art in the Applied Art course. He has worked as an illustrator with various advertising and publishing companies. He is currently working as a freelance illustrator. Besides art he has an interest in computer gaming. His name has been acknowledged in the Limca Book of National Records 2016 for his work.