This is the inspiring story of Lieutenant Balwan Singh!
India’s victory over Pakistan in the Kargil war of 1999 became a case study for militaries all around the world. Never before has the world seen a victory snatched out of such an impossible situation. Some battles of the Kargil war were fought at the highest battlegrounds on earth. When the oxygen ran low at 5000 meters, Indian soldiers compensated for it with their sheer will. Lieutenant Balwan Singh was leading one such bunch of determined soldiers. His route was so difficult, that the Pakistanis had placed no guard over it.
Lieutenant Balwan Singh’s father Sobha Chand was a decorated retired military officer. Inspired by his father, Lieutenant Balwan Singh showed a passion to join the army from a very young age. He was admitted into the Sainik School, Karnal. After graduating from there, he went on to Officer’s Training Academy. On completion of his training, he was commissioned into the 18th Grenadier.
Only four months had passed since Lieutenant Balwan Singh started his military career when the war broke out. Pakistan had broken the mutual agreement and had captured multiple strategic points. These points were high in the Himalayan mountain ranges. This height was of great advantage. It could be used to attack Indian territory as well as defend itself from incoming threats.
One of the most difficult enemy bases was on top of Tiger Hill. Tiger hill was placed like a Pyramid. And had multiple routes to reach the top. But the steepness of some routes made them impractical to climb.
Indian army decided to attack the top of tiger hill from all three sides. Lieutenant Balwan Singh was leading his troops from the hardest route. Only the youngest and the fittest were chosen for this mission and so only with four months of experience, Balwan Singh was leading a team. All three teams were known as Ghataks, meaning deadly. This name signalled to the enemy that none of them was to be taken alive as Prisoners of War.
Lieutenant Balwan Singh started the mission by stating that no matter what, they will not come back without hoisting the Tricolor over Tiger Hill.
Balwan Singh with 25 of his men started climbing with the most advanced climbing gears. The best climbers of the team would climb first and hook safety ropes for others to climb. This slow and steady process kept on for 12 painful hours. The team did all this mostly under dark and freezing temperatures.
On reaching the top they found the enemy completely vulnerable. With a swift movement, LieutenantBalwan Singh and his men covered the three enemy bunkers and started shooting. Within minutes, the Tiger top was captured back. A few enemy bunkers that were located at lower levels were emptied by the enemy, who ran away in fear.
Lieutenant Balwan Singh and his men pulled off the mission without a single casualty. This gave the Indian army the final push needed to wipe out every Pakistani soldier from Indian territory. Twenty days later India celebrated the victory and named it Kargil Vijay Diwas. Balwan Singh was awarded India’s second-highest military honour, the Mahavir Chakra. His leadership skills at such a young age became an example. And the victories on the world’s highest battlefield became a case study for the militaries of the entire world.