By Ila Garg
Kargil War Heroes – Part 13
Born on 3 July 1969, Naik Digendra Kumar belonged to the 2nd Battalion of the Rajputana Rifles regiment of the Indian Army. He is also a recipient of Maha Vir Chakra, Sena Medal and many other medals for his exemplary valor. He was one of the best commandoes of his time in the Indian Army. He had acquired the skill to hit a target on the basis of only sound.
After completing his training, he was posted at Jammu & Kashmir. He was sent to Sri Lanka for 'Operation Pawan' in Indian Peace Keeping Force in 1987 where his bravery was widely appreciated.
The sad part is that despite his grit and determination, he was denied war benefits. At first, the Army denied him the disability benefits which he is entitled to after being classified as 80 per cent disabled by an Indian Army medical board. It took the Army almost 2 years to finally give him the benefits that he deserved. However, as a Kargil veteran, he is entitled to extra-gratia benefits which are still denied to him. That's not all. Even the state government isn't concerned about this valiant commando who risked his life at the borders. The govt. was to allot an agricultural land to him for being a gallantry award winner but they have marked out the prize at a location almost 500 km from his Sikar home. Also, the Army refused to give him his disability pension saying that he "retired voluntarily".
When the Kargil war was on, Naik Digendra Kumar was commander of the Light Machine Gun Group during his company's assault on Tololing hill in Drass Sector. Their objective was to capture the fortified enemy post which was located at an altitude of over 15000 feet.
After 14 hours of hard labour, they reached the top of Tololing. Pakistani army had 11 bunkers on the Tololing hill top. Digendra Kumar was to target first and the last bunkers. Rest of the battalion targeted the remaining 9 bunker.
On 13 June 1999, the bombardment at Tololing led to heavy casualties. Naik Digendra Kumar too was hit by a bullet in his left arm. He remained undaunted and kept firing with one hand and brought down effective and accurate Light Machine Gun fire on the enemy. He then gave an effective covering fire, while his own troops attacked the enemy position. Despite being seriously wounded, he kept his platoon motivated. At last, the task was accomplished due to his efforts.
The role of Naik Digendra Kumar in the Kargil conflict was very crucial. With great difficulty, Digendra Kumar put the Indian tri-colour flag on 13 June 1999 at four o'clock in the morning.
The Indian Army reached Tololing peak in the early hours of morning and found heaps of dead soldiers. The Indian tri-colour flag was hoisted and Digendra Kumar lied besides it in an unconscious state. He had the head of Major Anwar Khan of the Pakistan Army in his hand. Digendra Kumar was then carried to Military Hospital. He thus was awarded MVC at the age of 30 for his courage in Kargil war.
Such brave soldiers should be respected and loved. The nation is proud of their efforts. But is the government listening?
More in this segment:
Kargil War Heroes – Part 1
Kargil War Heroes – Part 2
Kargil War Heroes – Part 3
Kargil War Heroes – Part 4
Kargil War Heroes – Part 5
Kargil War Heroes – Part 6
Kargil War Heroes – Part 7
Kargil War Heroes – Part 8
Kargil War Heroes – Part 9
Kargil War Heroes – Part 10
Kargil War Heroes – Part 11
Kargil War Heroes – Part 12
Kargil War Heroes – Part 14
Kargil War Heroes – Part 15