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Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Battle of Tololing Hill & Knoll - Capt Vijayant Thapar

“The tyrant dies and his rule is over,
the martyr dies and his rule begins”
..Soren Kierkegaard

"It is better to live one day as a lion than a hundred years as a sheep."- Italian proverb

Here’s the saga of a 22 year old. He lived his one day as a lion. And what a story he left behind. Captain Vijayant Thapar (Robin) of 2 Rajputana Rifles, was awarded the Vir Chakra posthumously. His grandmother received it. Capt Thapar was the son of an Army officer and his grandfather too had served in the Army as an officer!

Vijyant after getting commissioned on the 12th Dec'98, joined the 2 Rajputana Rifles at Gwalior. The Battalion stayed barely for a month before they moved to Kashmir to check counter insurgency. Before being inducted he was given some training in an Army establishment then moved to Kupwara where he was involved in two fierce encounters. While talking to his mother on telephone he described how he lived through a live encounter in which about thirty bullets were fired at him. While still involved in this counter insurgency tasks, orders were received for the unit to move to Drass to evict the enemy who had occupied Tololing, Tiger Hill, and adjoining heights. Vijyant moved under the command of his CO, Col. M.B. Rabindernath, VrC and his Company Commander Major P. Acharya. The Battalion was then given the task of capturing Tololing. This was a God sent opportunity for Vijyant as he was an officer always looking for action. After the initial assault by Major Mohit Saxena was held up, on the night of 12th June'99 Capt. Vijyant Thapar led his platoon to capture Barbad Bunker. His diary notes shows how in the close combat he killed two militants and his disappointment at not being able to capture two enemies alive.

Battle of Tololing Knoll and Three Pimples
2 Raj Rif was given the task of captaining Toiling Knoll, Three Pimples. In this actions Robin fought like a man and true soldier. These forbidding heights were held by enemy Northern Light Infantry (NLI) . They had well constructed fortification very well stocked, well sited, dominating the narrow ridge line on which 2 Raj Rif had to attack. During this Battle Vijyant captured a Pakistani position called Barbad Bunker Pt. 4590. Tololing was the first victory for Indian Army on 13th June 1999 and has gone into history as a turning point in the war.
Atop Barbad Bunker position

After the successful capture of Tololing he spoke to his mother on V-Sat telephone and proudly said "Mama we have captured Tololing". Later on 28 June, 2 Raj. Rif. was given the task of capturing Three Pimples, Knoll and Lone Hill area. The attack started with Vijyant's platoon leading on a full moon night along a razor sharp ridge with no cover to offer. There was intense and accurate artillery shelling and heavy enemy fire. He lost some of his dear men and some more were injured causing the attack to be disrupted. However with his indominable spirit and tremendous urge to capture Knoll he got together, the remenants of his men and moved through a ravine to face the enemy. It was a full moon night . Moreover this was an impossible position to capture. The troops of 6 Northern Light Infantry had all the advantages. Strongly prepared positions, one narrow knife edge ridge, with precipitous slopes on both side, ravines thousands of feet deep, devoid of cover and almost vertical climbs at places.

At 8PM the attack commenced with a thunderous shatter as 120 guns opened fire, rockets hit up the sky. Shells, own and Pakistani covered the whole area mixed with lethal machine gun fire. Into this inferno 2 Raj Rif moved with Capt. Vijyant Thapar leading the attack. Among the first to fall in this rain of death was sepoy Jagmal Singh, Vijyant's very dear orderly.

While the exchange of fire was going on, full of excitement, Vijyant reached his Company which had already secured a foothold on Knoll. By this time his Company Commander Major P. Achrya had been killed. At this news Vijyant's anger was explosive. He surged ahead with his colleague Naik Tilak Singh. Both of them started engaging the enemy merely 15 mts. away. There were two enemy machine guns firing towards them. After about an hour and a half of fierceful exchange of bullets and abuses Vijyant decided that he had to end the enemy. As he moved up to do so a burst of fire struck him on his head. He fell in the arms of his comrade Naik Tilak Singh. A brave son of India had fallen. It was after that the men of his company charged and fully captured Knoll. The victory at Knoll on 29 June 1999, is a saga of bravery unmatched, and unbounded grit and determination. Courage alone and unflinching faith in almighty God alone turned a tactically impossible situation into a victory.

And this is the last letter he wrote to his family

Dearest Papa Mama Birdie and Granny,

1. By the time you get this letter, I'll be observing you all from the sky enjoying the hospitality of Apsaras.

2. I have no regrets, in fact even if I become a human again I'll join the Army and fight for the nation.
3. If you can, please come and see where the Indian Army fought for your tomorrow.

4. As far as this unit is concerned the new chaps should be told about this sacrifice.I hope my photo will be kept in the 'A' Coy mandir with Karni Mata.

5. Whatever organ can be taken, should be done.

6. Contribute some money to orphanage and keep giving 50/- Rs to Ruksana per month and meet Yogi Baba.
7. Best of luck to Birdie, never forget this sacrifice of these men. Papa you should feel proud. Mama so should you, meet ________ ( I loved her). Mamaji forgive me for evrything wrong I did.

Ok then its time for me to join my clan of the Dirty Dozen. My assault party has 12 chaps.

Best of luck to you all
Live life kingsize

Yours, Robin

I’m weeping like a fool here, my nose and eyes streaming. I have no composure! And I have this deep sense of loss…to lose a man who had such purity of thought! To know that one could die, and to run forth to embrace that death willingly! At 22!! This was an exceptional person. And he makes me feel so proud! Till the time India breeds soldiers of such mettle, we are safe in the face of any danger. Yet the mind rebels…how can men sacrifice themselves so willingly for us, their countrymen and we sit back and take it as our due? What do we give back? And how? Senator Robert F. Kennedy said "It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope. That ripple builds others. Those ripples - crossing each other from a million different centers of energy - build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and injustice."

Khushnaseeb hai wo jo
Watan pe mit jaate hai
Mar kar bhi wo log
Amar ho jaate hai
Karta hoon tumhe saalam
E-watan pe mitne walo
Tumhari har saans mein basta
Tirange ka naseeb hai

1 comment:

Debanjan Roy said...

“I feel grateful to offer respectful homage to the noble soul of Captain Vijayant Thapar.I have read the last letter of Captain Thapar more than 10 times and will again read it innumerable times in future.This wonderful letter always gives me hope and encouragement in times of despondency ...This is because it makes you realize that if Captain Thapar could meet the end of his mortal life so bravely, then I can surely meet any of the lesser challenges of life.Hence, the above letter is a true piece of inspirational literature...And I am proud to belong to a country that has produced such gallant heroes....Only because of such brave officers, we, the ordinary citizens of this country can breathe in peace...Sir, Rest in Peace...Jai Hind.”