Tiger Hill, Kargil
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Tiger hill (highest mountain seen in the background) as seen from the River Indus in Kargil.
|Elevation||17,411 ft (5,307 m)|
|Location||Drass/Kargil, Jammu and Kashmir, India|
|Parent range||The Himalayas|
Tiger Hill or "Point 4660" is a mountain in the Drass-Kargil area of Jammu & Kashmir, India. It is one of the highest peaks in the area and was the subject of the infamous battle during the 1999 India-Pakistan Kargil War. Its recapture was one of the most important objectives for Indian forces during the Kargil War.
Since Tiger Hill is the highest peak in the sector, the Pakistani forces who held the peak could easily see the military headquarters of the 56 Brigade, the main Indian force in charge of the area. The Tiger Hill overlooks the National Highway 1D (India), a strategic root way to Siachen Glacier and connects Srinagar to Leh in Ladakh which enabled the Pakistanis to watch the Srinagar-Leh Highway, the main supply route of the Kargil Sector, and relay information of troop and supply movements to their superiors. They can easily direct fire on a 25 km stretch of the national highway.
India could not allow this, since with this information, Pakistan could accurately and easily shell the Indian positions. Furthermore, the Pakistanis had infiltrated farther into the Kargil Sector, and India needed a good surveillance point to root out and destroy these posts.
Indian artillery started shelling Tiger Hill to force the enemy to keep their head down, while the 18 Grenadiers, 2 Naga, and 8 Sikh Regiment of the Indian Army got ready to attack Tiger Hill. The main tactic was the most difficult ever employed on an open battlefield. An Indian contingent of 12-18 soldiers were to climb a steep cliff with a height of 1000 feet and attack the Pakistani forces, which were then engaged in shelling with Indian artillery, and stage a surprise attack.
The assault team had 200 men, with some 2000 troops providing rear support. While the Alpha, Charlie, and Ghatak companies of the Grenadiers attacked from the rear, the Nagas were on the left flank, and the Sikhs on the right. The assault began at 5:15 pm on 3 July, with India shelling the Pakistani positions.
Infantry battalions advanced on unexpected, and therefore difficult, avenues of approach, supported by overwhelming artillery fire. Multi-directional attacks produced the element of surprise. Daring nighttime maneuver over steep terrain, in coordination with massive firepower, broke NLI defenses in all areas. 8 Sikh had attempted to scale the heights of Tiger Hill in late May, only to be repulsed by heavy artillery and small arms fire. Poorly coordinated assaults initiated without adequate artillery support failed under heavy fire from an entrenched enemy. Unable to press the attack, the soldiers dug in and surrounded the hill. 192 Mountain Brigade assumed command of the operations at Tiger Hill in late June, and received 18 Grenadiers, fresh from participating in the victory at Tololing. 18 Grenadiers picked up the assault, supported by the concentrated fire of twenty-two artillery batteries and 8 Sikh. In freezing rain on the night of 3 July, 18 Grenadiers launched an assault on the 16,700-foot (5,062 m) Tiger Top that began with a twelve-hour, vertical climb using fixed ropes. 18 Grenadiers achieved surprise and made initial gains, yet the assault stalled near the top under heavy resistance. Sensing the loss of initiative, Major Ravinder Singh of 8 Sikh launched a daring attack. He and a detachment of fifty-two soldiers climbed up the side of the adjoining Western Ridge, splitting the Pakistani defense on the night of 5 July. The group held off several counterattacks. Most of the Sikh soldiers attacked without cold weather gear, and many of the wounded died from exposure. After three more days of heavy fighting, the bold plan paid off, and 18 Grenadiers resumed the attack on an NLI force facing attack from two directions. 18 Grenadiers seized Tiger Hill Top on the morning of 8 July.
While this was happening, the mountaineer Grenadiers had moved into position, and attacked. 10 Pakistani soldiers were killed, and 2 escaped; 5 Indian soldiers were also killed. The main hero of the battle was Indian Soldier Yogendra Singh Yadav who was later awarded with the highest award of the Indian Army Param Vir Chakra.
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Later on, Indian media reported that Point 5353, a strategically important peak in the Dras sector, was still under Pakistan's control. After this, the Indian Army said that the peak had never held by India, and was not on its side of the LoC. In an interview, General Ved Prakash Malik, Indian Army Chief during the Kargil War, when asked about to clarify the controversy about point 5353, which has reportedly been taken over by Pakistan he stated: "That is not true. The 1972 letter clearly shows, both on the map and in writing, that the LoC passes through 5353. Some of the Point's features are occupied by them and some by us. But the fact is that if you want to attack Point 5353, you would have to come via the Pakistani side. It is not with us. We had never occupied it. Point 5353 had been vacated by them for a while when the talks were going on. Then they reoccupied it, that's all. I don't know how this controversy started. But I saw the hand-sketched map in which somebody had put 5353 right next to Tiger Hill. That is wrong!"
Indian Army responded by capturing two peaks on the Pakistani side of LoC, Point 4875 and Point 4251. Indian army however continued efforts for retaking Point 5353, till 2003 when a ceasefire agreement was signed between Pakistan and India. Pakistan consolidated its position on Point 5353 by constructing concrete bunkers and a road from Benazir Post, the base of the peak to Pakistan's rear headquarters at Gultari.
- "Commander ordered capture of Point 5353 in Kargil war". The Hindu. 30 June 2004. Retrieved 22 August 2013.
- "Skeletons in the Generals' cupboards". The Hindu. 12 August 2009. Retrieved 15 December 2013.
- "Troops re-capture Tiger hill after 3 pronged attack". Jammu-Kashmir.com. 4 July 1999. Retrieved 15 December 2013.
- Pakistan thought the Indian Army's back was broken
- Fact and Fiction on Point 5353
- Near Tiger Hill, Point 5353 still Pak-occupied - Last Paragraph
- Kargil Questions