Kargil Vijay Diwas 2019:Who Was Param Vir Chakra Recipient Lieutenant Manoj Kumar Pandey?
On the night of 3 July, 1999, Pandey's troops advanced to Khalubar, which was its final objective. However, it came under intense enemy fire from the surrounding heights.
File image of Lieutenant Manoj Kumar Pandey.
Officer of the 1st battalion of the Indian Army and 11 Gorkha Rifles, Lieutenant Manoj Kumar Pandey was the recipient of the Param Vir Chakra, India's highest military award for his gallantry in the Kargil War of 1999.
He had always wanted to win the Param Vir Chakra. According to media reports, prior to his selection, during his Services Selection Board (SSB) interview, when asked why he wanted to join the Army? Pandey replied, "I want to win the Param Vir Chakra.” True to his words, he did win the country's highest gallantry honour but posthumously.
Born on June 25, 1975 in Rudha village, Sitapur district Uttar Pradesh, Lt Manoj Kumar Pandey was the eldest in his family.
He attained his education at Uttar Pradesh Sainik School in Lucknow and Rani Laxmi Bai Memoria Senior Secondary School.
Lt Manoj Kumar Pandey had a keen interest in sports and particularly liked boxing and body building.
He graduated from National Defence Academy (NDA) in the 90th course and belonged to Mike squadron. He joined the 1st battalion, 11 Gorkha Rifles (1/11 GR).
The Gorkha Regiment of the Indian Army was entrusted with the task of reclaiming the captured Indian positions from the Pakistani troops and the intruders. Lieutenant Manoj Kumar Pandey was asked to lead his unit on the mission on July 3.
During those days, Lt Pandey was posted in Siachen and was preparing to go on leave. His leave was also sanctioned. But when the news of Pakistani intruders infiltrating India came, he got his leaves cancelled.
Lt Pandey first led his men to capture the Jubar top which was considered as important due to its strategic location. On the night of 3 July, 1999, his troops advanced to Khalubar, which was its final objective. However, it came under intense enemy fire from the surrounding heights.
Gauging the situation, the young officer led his team along a narrow, treacherous ridge that directly led them to the enemy position.
Seeing them approaching, the Pakistani troops started to fire upon the Indian soldiers stalling the Indian attack. Displaying great courage, Lt Pandey paced ahead of his troops and attacked the enemy with a full-throated battle cry through a hail of bullets.
Despite being wounded in the shoulder and leg, Lt Pandey pressed on his solitary charge with determination, until he closed in on the first bunker. There, in a ferocious hand-to-hand combat, he killed two of the enemy and cleared the first bunker.
Although he was grievously injured, he rushed from bunker to bunker urging his men to continue the attack. He collapsed at the final bunker and succumbed to his injuries. By that time he had already captured the bunker with his men.
His last words were "Na Chhodnu" (which means "don't spare them" in Nepali).
He was just 24 when he sacrificed his life for the country. His bravery and leadership later earned him the tag of "Hero of Batalik".
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