July 26, 1999 was the day when Indian Army regained all the Indian posts in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kargil district which were occupied by Pakistan’s army. The Kargil war started when the Pakistani troops and terrorists infiltrated into Indian Territory which led to the launch of Operation Vijay. The saga of course acknowledges the role of artillery which ultimately turned the tables while the enemies were holding a secured position to attack. But little is everyone aware about the 1st peak seized by India on the heights of Kargil was by a team of 30 men of Ladakh scouts led by the Lion Of Ladakh, Major Sonam Wangchuk.
Honoured with Mahavir Chakra for his actions during the war, this is the tale of Major Wangchuk and his unit that captured a height of 18000 feet while also ceasing the possibility of further infiltration by enemies.
While on his annual vacation at his home in Khakshal in Leh, he was informed to immediately resume his duty. He reported at BSF base camp from where he was sent for reconnaissance and seize on the LOC, high in the mountains. Major Wangchuk left with a team of 30 soldiers of Ladakh Scouts for the mission to establish their post at 18000 feet high ridge inside the Indian region of LOC.
On their way, they were ambushed by the enemy and the heavy shelling killed an NCO of the scouts. Major Wangchuk continued to climb to LOC as he was aware how important it was to seal the ridge of infiltration but he did leave one Jawan behind to take back the body of the soldier to the base and inform them about the ambush.
When his men reached the ridge after three hours and spotted the intruders, Major decided to wait for the enemy to come within firing range and then attacked them from the edge, killing four infiltrators.
Intrusion axis- Chorbat La
Without artillery support and POK on the other side, Major Wangchuk did not have many options and resources but to keep heading for the axis of enemy intrusion, Chorbat La and wait for the enemies.
The seize at Chorbat La was maintained for over a week with bare survival ration in the most difficult battlefield to prevent subsequent infiltration which gave Indian Army a strong position on the ridge against intruders and in the Batalik region.
An army officer said, “Even as the Army and the country was raving about his wins in Kargil, he treated it with little excitement and kept smiling through it all.”
Since India’s victory, the day is being annually celebrated as Vijay Diwas. Major Wangchuk was awarded with Mahavir Chakra for his exemplary bravery.