An officer of the Indian Army of the regiment 1/11 Gurkha Rifles was posthumously awarded the India’s highest military honour, Param Vir Chakra.
Lieutenant Manoj Kumar Pandey took part in a series of boldly led attacks during Operation Vijay;
He forced back the intruders on June 11, 1999 at Batalik Sector in the Kargil war. He led his men to capture the Jubar top which was considered as important due to its strategic location. Quickly sizing up the situation, the young officer led his platoon along a narrow, treacherous ridge that led to the enemy position. While still short of the objective, the enemy fired upon the Indiansoldiers effectively stalling the Indian attack. Displaying great courage, he surged ahead of his troops and charged at the enemy with a full throated battle cry through a hail of bullets.
Although wounded in the shoulder and leg, he pressed on his solitary charge with grim determination, until he closed in on the first bunker. Then in ferocious hand-to-hand combat, he killed two of the enemy and cleared the first bunker. It was the turning point. Inspired by their leader’s spontaneous valour, the troops charged at the enemy and fell upon them. Unmindful of his grievous wounds, he rushed from bunker to bunker urging his men on. Critically injured, he collapsed at the final bunker and finally succumbed to his injuries. But by this time he had already captured the bunker with his men.
On the night of 2/3 July 1999 during the advance to Khalubar as his platoon approached its final objective, it came under heavy and intense enemy fire from the surrounding heights. Lieutenant Pandey was tasked to clear the interfering enemy positions to prevent his battalion from getting day lighted, being in a vulnerable position. He quickly moved his platoon to an advantageous position under intense enemy fire, sent one section to clear the enemy positions from the right and himself proceeded to clear the enemy positions from the left.
Fearlessly assaulting the first enemy position, he killed two enemy personnel and destroyed the second position by killing two more. He was injured on the shoulder and legs while clearing the third position. Undaunted and without caring for his grievous injuries, he continued to lead the assault on the fourth position urging his men and destroyed the same with a grenade, even as he got a fatal burst on his forehead.
His last words were “Na chhodnu” (“Don’t Spare Them” in Nepali language). This singular daredevil act of Lieutenant Pandey provided the critical firm base for the companies, which finally led to capture of Khalubar. The officer, however, succumbed to his injuries. Lieutenant Manoj Kumar Pandey, thus, displayed most conspicuous bravery, indomitable courage, outstanding leadership and devotion to duty and made the supreme sacrifice in the highest traditions of the Indian Army.
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