Captain Naveen Anaberu
In May 1999, Indian Armed Forces were suddenly called to the Line of Control(LoC). The Indian Army had launched Operation Vijay. I was a part of 13 Battalion -Jammu and Kashmir Rifles team and was twenty five years old when I was inducted into the battle field. My team Charlie and another, Delta, were chosen to regain hillock Point 4785 which was infiltrated. The date was July 4th 1999.
July 4th dawned. At 2:00 PM, my jawans and I sat down for lunch, and the unit pandit performed the havan and applied tilak on everyone’s forehead. Before we set out, I had to ask my team for one ‘unposted letter’, which would be given to their families incase they didn’t return. Our wallets, pictures of loved ones and any other material had to be deposited, so in case any of us got captured our identity would not be revealed. It was an emotional moment for all. At about 6:30 PM, we started towards the peak. It was a high altitude warfare and the terrain was very steep with loose rocks, and to top it off, the weather was bad as well. It was just before daybreak when the enemy sighted us and the war began.
I, along with six others, launched the initial attack. After making progress in the first attack, I noticed that my buddy who was paired with me was martyred. It was 5:00 AM on July 5th. We went on and kept fighting day and night. An MMG(Medium Machine Gun) was continuously firing and hampering our uphill movement. Rifleman Sanjay Kumar volunteered to neutralise it, He climbed the steep hill towards the enemy camp and took the MMG in bare hands while his buddy opened fire.
On July 6th, my commanding officer contacted us and asked if we needed food supplies. Our last meal had been lunch on 4th July. I told him what we needed was ammunition. Food can wait. He sent us reinforcements along with Captain Vikram Batra, a man known to be a fearless fighter. His entry gave us a new josh and created a lot of unrest amongst the enemies. Together, we captured all the bunkers except one. By the morning of July 7th, There was fierce fighting and suddenly a grenade landed near me in the bunker. I knew that everything in a 10-metre radius would be shredded and it has a time lag of only four seconds. I tried throwing it back but it hit a boulder and rolled back. I just rolled down to my right to save my upper body. The grenade went off and my legs were badly damaged but I was still alive. I picked up my gun and started firing again. Captain Vikram Batra came and pulled me off the bunker and asked me to leave but I wanted to see us to victory. I refused to budge. He threatened to call the attack off, and I started crawling my way back.
I crawled 150 metres before I found a boulder to rest against and check the damage. One of the soldiers put me on his shoulders and carried me to the base camp, avoiding the bullets fired at us. I had to bite my uniform to stop myself from screaming out of pain. On July 8th, I was airlifted out. While I was up above, my nursing assistant gently nudged me to show the tricolour atop Point 4875 in full glory. I was devastated to hear that Captain Vikram Batra had attained martyrdom.
In Delhi, I had eight surgeries and was bedridden for six months. I was in the hospital for 21 months. I was told braces and crutches would be a part of my life. I was medically boarded out of the Indian Army. Today, I limp a bit but walk on my own and work as a civilian in the Military of Defence.
On July 26th, 1999, Indian Armed Forces successfully completed Operation Vijay. The price had been steep, though. 527 soldiers sacrificed their lives and 1363 were injured in the operation.
If I am given another chance, I would fight again to protect my motherland. I have and I always will serve my country. As Captain Batra said “I will either hoist the tricolour or come back wrapped in it.”