This is an essay on Rifleman Sanjay Kumar.

The year was 1995 and somewhere in Delhi, a future ‘PVC’ winner was driving late night taxi. After his nightly duty as a taxi driver was over, he would start his morning physical training for the military. He had been rejected from joining the military three times before. But he was determined to become a soldier.
And even after being rejected three times, he was not to give up. And isn’t that a soldier’s biggest strength?

After four years of him joining the military came the fateful day when the Indian Army discovered Pakistani soldiers had occupied Indian peaks. And the war of Kargil started. Rifleman Sanjay Kumar was part of the 13th battalion J&K Rifles. These soldiers were acclimatized to the heights and weather of Jammu and Kashmir’s mountainous region. Hence they were the first to reach the Kargil action.

Point 4875 was a peak next to Tiger hill. Capturing point 4875 would give the Indian Army a great advantage in scouting the route to Tiger Hill. This extremely important and equally dangerous mission was given to an inspiring young captain Vikram Batra. Batra and his men did what was asked of them. Even though Batra lost his life during the mission, India successfully captured point 4875. His sacrifice fuelled the already high burning flames of Indian soldiers even more.

Next in line was to capture the flat top of 4875. An inspired and eager young Rifleman Sanjay Kumar volunteered to lead the team. If they couldn’t capture the flat top then Point 4875 would be recaptured and the sacrifices of Batra and many others would go in vein.

Pakistani Army had made two underground bunkers with machine guns on the flat top. As the name suggests, the flat topology of the area gave no cover from the bullets of the enemy machine guns. The bunkers were 150 meters from Point 4875, where Sanjay and others were sheltered.
The Sun was going low in the sky and the night at those heights and that too in open would prove fatal.

Adrenaline pumping through his vein, Rifleman Sanjay Kumar decided to make a move. He started crawling towards the bunker. His best hope was that his camouflage uniform would keep him undetected. And once he gets close enough, he could blast the bunkers with grenades. He kept crawling slowly and steadily while his men gave occasional cover firing. But alas he was spotted by the enemy. 

Rifleman Sanjay Kumar was caught in a pickle, with no way to go. But he was no ordinary man, he was a high-ranking soldier in the Indian Army. And he had foreseen this and was ready with a plan. The moment he heard the enemy rounds, he stood up and started running in a zig-zag motion.

This was the only option he had. The enemy machine gun couldn’t pin him down. But he still got hit by two bullets, one in the chest and another in his shoulder. With adrenaline pumping, he didn’t even notice the bullet wounds. He barged into the enemy bunker and in a hand to hand combat killed two of its occupants. He was so eager to complete the mission that he started running to the next bunker.

The occupants of the second bunker were horrified. They have just seen a man run against a machine gun firing, taking bullets, entering the bunker, and killing its occupants. And now the mad man, covered in blood was coming for them. And like any sane person, they ran for their life. Sanjay Kumar picked up the enemy’s gun and killed the cowards. His inspiring action created a ripple effect and soon everyone from his squad attacked. And the flat top of point 4875 was cleared off the enemy.

Rifleman Sanjay Kumar was awarded India’s highest military honor, the ‘Paramvir Chakra’ for decisive action and unparalleled determination. He continues to serve in the military as a Major Subedar. As one of only three living PVC winners, he spends a lot of time retelling stories of Kargil, both his own and of other brave hearts, to the future generations of India. 

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