The Story of an Unsung Hero of Kargil War Who Fight till his Last Breath and Refused to be Rescued

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Capt Keishing Clifford Nongrun

Belonging to the city of Shillong in Meghalaya, Capt Keishing Clifford Nongrum was born on March 7, 1975. His father, Peter Keishing, worked at State Bank of India while his mother, Saily Nongrum, is a housewife. Clifford Nongrum was part Naga, part Khasi (his father is a Tangkhul tribal from Ukhrul, Manipur), but he took his name, Nongrum, from his Khasi mother in accordance with the traditions of Khasi matrilineal society. A mound 50 metres away from the Nongrum residence apparently helped Clifford make up his mind. He’d often spend hours on the mound peering down at Happy Valley a kilometre beyond, absorbed in the daily drills of the men in the Assam Rifles base.

Capt Keishing Clifford Nongrun

Capt Nongrum received his high-school education from Don Bosco Technical School in Shillong and completed his graduation in political science from St. Anthony’s College, Shillong. He was a sincere, obedient, honest and hardworking child ever since his school days. Capt Nongrum had a great interest in Soccer and boxing. It was in his nature to lead and as a young boy and he had formed a football team called Maitshaphrang (march forward) in his locality. He was also the captain of the school football team and the game helped in honing his leadership qualities.  After finishing the college, his passion to join the Armed Forces led him to join the Officer Training Academy in 1996 in 64th SSC course. He graduated from the Officers Training Academy, Chennai (OTA) and was commissioned into the 12th battalion of the Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry Regiment.

Kargil War : 01 July 1999

By early May 1999, Pakistani forces had intruded well across the LOC, in the Mushkoh, Dras, Kaksar and Batalik sectors. The extent of penetration across the LOC varied from 4 to 8 kms in each sector. In many vital points, neither artillery nor air power could dislodge the enemy forces, who were not in visible range. The Indian forces had no option but to send up the soldiers for direct assaults which were slow and took a toll. One such mission was assigned to 12 JAK Li unit on 30 June 1999 to capture the strategically important Point 4812 in the Batalik sector. Capt Nongrum was tasked to lead the assault team for this critical mission.

On the night of 30 June/01 July 1999, Capt Nongrum set off along with his troops to assault the feature from the South Eastern direction. He led his column over the near impossible vertical cliff feature, using all the field craft skills he had learnt. Capt  Nongrum and his resolute squad just went on to do the challenging task and made the ascent steadily yet stealthily to get to the enemy shelters at the top. On reaching the top, his column faced strong opposition from the enemy forces as they were well entrenched in interconnected positions carved out of boulders and could not be attacked by even artillery fire.

The enemy pinned down the column of Capt Nongrum with heavy automatic fire for about two hours. Capt Nongrum realized that the enemy forces were in fortified positions and a daredevil action was needed to overrun them to make an advance towards their objective. He did not take much time to analyse the gravity of the situation and with utter disregard to his personal safety, charged through the fire zone. Closing in with the first position, he threw grenades into it and killed six enemy soldiers. He then tried to snatch the universal machine gun of the enemy from the second enemy position and received a volley of bullets.

The audacious action of Capt Nongrum not only stunned the enemy but also gave valuable reaction time to his troops to close in and finally clear the position. Though severely wounded, he refused to be evacuated and fought valiantly till he succumbed to his injuries. This courageous act of Capt Nongrum finally paved the way for the ultimate capture of Point 4812. Capt Nongrum was given the nation’s second highest gallantry award, “Maha Vir Chakra” for his exceptional bravery, indomitable spirit and supreme sacrifice. Capt Nongrum is the only soldier from the state of Meghalaya to receive this unique honour.

The citation for the Maha Vir Chakra awarded to him reads:

On the night of 30 June/01 July 1999, in an operation to capture Point 4812 in the Batalik sector, Lieutenant Keishing Clifford Nongrum was tasked to assault the feature from the South Eastern direction. He led his column over the near impossible vertical cliff feature. On reaching the top, his column encountered strong enemy opposition. The enemy was well entrenched in interconnected positions carved out of boulders and remained immune to even artillery fire.

The enemy pinned down the column of Lieutenant Keishing Clifford Nongrum with heavy and accurate automatic fire for about two hours. On seeing the futility of own fire against the fortified enemy position, Lieutenant Nongrum, with utter disregard to his personal safety, charged through the fire zone. Closing in with the first position, he threw grenades into it and killed six enemy soldiers. He then tried to snatch the universal machine gun of the enemy from the second enemy position and received a volley of bullets.

The audacious action of Lieutenant Nongrum not only stunned the enemy but also gave valuable reaction time to his troops to close in and finally clear the position. Though severely wounded, he refused to be evacuated and fought valiantly till he succumbed to his injuries. This act resulted in the ultimate capture of Point 4812.

Lieutenant Keishing Clifford Nongrum displayed conspicuous bravery, dogged determination and raw courage in the face of the enemy and made the supreme sacrifice in the highest traditions of the Indian Army.

Legacy

  • A bust in the memory of Capt Clifford Nongrum was inaugurated on May 19, 2015 at Rhino Museum, Shillong.

  • Every year, the NCC Unit of St Anthony’s College organizes a commemorative function on the death anniversary of Capt Keishing Clifford Nongrum.