July 26, 1999,
the Indian Armed Forces won a gritty and decisive battle against Pakistan. In the battle, many brave young soldiers laid down their lives defending their country in the tough and treacherous battlefield of Kargil.
It’s been twenty years since then, but their bravery and sacrifice are alive in every Indians heart as memory. Among these bravehearts, there was a young Indian soldier who fought ferociously and laid down his life.
His name was Captain Anuj Nayyar.
Capt. Anuj was born on August 28, 1975, in Delhi. His father, S K Nayyar, was a visiting professor in Delhi School of Economics, and his mother, Meena Nayyar, worked in the South Campus library of Delhi University.
While studying in Dhaula Kuan’s Army Public School, Anuj Nayyar was a bright student who consistently performed well in academics as well as sports. He was keen volleyball player and a long distance runner, he always wanted to join the army. And he fulfilled this dream by joining the National Defence Academy.
In 1997, Anuj graduated from the Indian Military Academy and he was commissioned into the 17th battalion, Jat Regiment (17 Jat). As a junior officer in this regiment, he was posted in the Kargil region of Jammu and Kashmir when the Indian Army detected a massive infiltration by Pakistani military forces in the area.
Reacting immediately, the army mobilised forces to drive out enemy soldiers from the Indian territory.
Soon after, Anuj’s unit received orders to to recapture Point 4875, a mountain peak on the western side of Tiger Hill that had been occupied by Pakistani infiltrators.
It was a strategic location, securing Pt. 4875 was a top priority for the Indian Army. The icy slopes of this peak were 80 degree steep and covered with thick snow. Pakistani troops had positioned themselves at the height of 16000 feet. As such, capturing the peak without aerial support was considered near impossible.
Knowing that any delay in securing this post could strengthen Pakistan’s grip on it, Anuj’s Charlie Company decided to secure the peak without waiting for any aerial support.
On July 6th, the unit began one of the most difficult mountain warfare campaigns undertaken during Kargil – the capture of Pt. 4875.
During the tortuous climb, the enemy got information of their arrival and they started attacking with mortar and automatic fire from above.
The commander of Charlie Company was injured during this assault, following which the team split into two groups, one led by Anuj and the other by fellow officer Captain Vikram Batra.
With the strong support from the formidable Vikram Batra (codenamed Sher Shah), Anuj counter-attacked ferociously. Engaging in hand-to-hand combat, clearing enemy bunkers, so that their men could march forward, these two bravehearts forced the enemy to retreat.
Anuj Nayyar led his men to clear the Pimple Complex, Anuj proceeded with heavy counter-fire to silence three machine guns, which had halted Indian troops’ advancement. Without caring for his own safety personal safety, Capt. Anuj Nayyar single–handedly took down nine infiltrators.
Thanks to this brilliant tactical assault, the team was able to successfully clear three of the four bunkers. However, as they began their assault on the fourth bunker, a rocket-propelled grenade directly hit Anuj, leaving him grievously injured.
Even this injury couldn’t stop 23-year-old ferocious hero, he continued to lead the remaining men till the last bunker was cleared. It was only then that Anuj finally succumbed to his injuries, completing the mission in a manner that etched his name him alongside some of India’s greatest military heroes.
“He was a magnificent officer. As soon as the initial euphoria of the victory settled down we realised the biggest loss of our lives. The man who won us the post was not there to celebrate with us,” then commander of the Delta company unit, Col Deepak Ram pal said in an interview.
By morning, India had recaptured Pimple Complex (now called Vikram Batra Top) but lost two of her bravest sons — Captain Vikram Batra, had also died while clearing enemy bunkers. The securing of Peak 4875 went on to pave the way for the recapture of Tiger Hill, the crucial victory that finally forced Pakistani forces to retreat to pre-war positions.
For Anuj Nayyar nation always came first. He lived up to the promise he had made to his father in one of his many letters to his family:
“I am not that irresponsible that I will die without fulfilling my duties for the country. My army and this country has put so much faith in me, it would be a mistake to think of death at this time. Till the last enemy is there I will keep breathing.”
In fact, Anuj even left his engagement ring with his commanding officer when he left for the Pt. 4875 mission, asking him to return it to his fiancée in case he never came back.
For his bravery and leadership of the highest order, Captain Anuj Nayyar was posthumously awarded the Maha Vir Chakra — the nation’s second highest honour.
Captain Vikram Batra was awarded Param Vir Chakra — India’s highest award for gallantry in battle.
Capt. Anuj Nayyar’s father remembers his carefree school days,
“His Maths teacher used to call him ‘a bundle of energy’ as he was always on the run. He was also the best volleyball player in his school. We used to tell him not to play because he always ruined his shirt. From then on, he just used to take off his shirt and play. With a mind like his, how could one stop him from doing what he wanted to, for the country?”
we remember and salute these heroic warriors who laid down their lives to protect the nation and their fellow countrymen. Never forget their sacrifice, never forgive enemy’s treachery.
Dr Sindhu Prashanth