On 26th July, we celebrated Kargil vijay diwas and remembered all brave Officers and Jawans who fought in the war. When we remember these warriors, we remember them as brave-heart, courageous, patriotic and confident. And when we talk of ‘commandos’ then they are at another of confidence and bravery. Here is a story of a commando nick-named “Cobra” by his colleagues.
On June 2, 1999, General V. P. Malik, the then army chief held a " Sainik Darbar" in the Drass sector after three failed attempts to recapture Tololing Hill (15000 feet). Fifty- nine Indian soldiers from different regiments died already, following which Gen Malik summoned the commanders of the 2 Rajputana Rifles to present their plans.
The Army chief was not convinced by their plans then a 30- year- old commando got up, summoned all the courage that an Army Naik would need to speak to the general. He said: " Iam Naik Digendra Kumar known as Cobra, the best commando of the Indian Army. Sir, I have a plan that guarantees our victory." " Explain," said the general. " Sir, the hill is straight," Naik Digendra offered. " We will take the same route as the enemy." The surprised General Malik countered saying death is certain on this route. Naik Digendra wouldn’t back off. " Death is unavoidable otherwise too. Leave this to me.
Then a team was made comprising of Major Vivek Gupta, Subedar Bhanwar Lal Bhakar, Lance Naik Jasvir Singh, Naik Surendra, Naik Chaman Singh Teotia and other ORs.
How he got title of “Cobra”?
In 1987, he was posted in Sri Lanka as a member of IPKF. He was working as a personal bodyguard of an Indian General. One day while he was sitting in an open jeep, an LTTE terrorist threw a grenade at the jeep. He caught it and threw it back to the terrorist. The terrorist’s head was blown off into pieces. After that incident, the soldier was nicknamed 'Cobra' by his colleagues.
Now, this is how ‘Cobra’ remembered the days:
For two days from June 8, Digendra and his colleagues recced the area before putting ropes, and that took 14 hours. On June 12, Digendra and nine fellow commandos started the mission to recapture Tololing. He was equipped with an AK- 47 with 360 bullets, 18 hand grenades, one pistol and a commando dagger dipped in cyanide. Each of them was assigned to blast one bunker each of the 11 that the Pakistani army had built. " Naik Digendra assigned himself the first and the last bunkers.
The group began to climb the hill in the dead of night. It was pitch- dark. Digendra remembers “ At one point, I thought I touched a stone. It wasn’t; it was the barrel of an enemy machine gun. I pulled it, and threw a grenade in the bunker. It caught fire. We knew that the Pakistanis would retaliate. And they did.
The Pakistanis were in a well-entrenched position in eleven bunkers. Mortars,HMGs and MMGs were kept at strategic positions. Pakistani machine guns started firing. Subedar Bhanwar Lal, Lance Naik Jasvir, Naik Surendra and Naik Teotia died.
Naik Digendra was also hit by three bullets in the chest, one in the left thumb and another in the lower waist. The do-or-die fighting continued near a cliff. Soon, the Pakistanis outnumbered Digendra’s team, and all nine including Major Vivek Gupta died. Before their death, they handed over their guns and grenades to Digendra who threw 18 grenades in all the 11 bunkers. All of a sudden Major Anwar Khan appeared to confront him. He killed him barehanded.
Incredibly, Naik Digendra killed 48 enemy-soldiers including Pakistani Major Anwar Khan on the night of 13th June 1999. He himself destroyed the last enemy bunker and was the first to reach Point 4590. He fulfilled his promise. He hoisted Indian Tri-color and then he fell unconscious. Perhaps the only alive soldier to receive the Mahavir Chakra in the Kargil War, Naik Digendra received his medal on January 26, 2000. He was also promoted to ‘Havaldar’ rank.