Celebrate Kargil Vijay Diwas with an inspiring story of grit and bravery8 min readReading Time: 5 minutes
To celebrate the courage of the Forces that brought victory to the nation, Owliver brings to you the story of Major Devender Pal Singh, a Kargil veteran, who barely survived the war to tell the story behind the bunkers, and become a legend in his own right.
Major D.P. Singh commissioned into the Indian Army in December 1997 after graduating from the Indian Military Academy. He was all of twenty-five years of age when the war broke out. He joined his unit in May 1999. In July 1999, his unit was moved to the Line of Control (LoC) near Akhnoor area in July.
He was commanding a post near LoC with 30 soldiers under him. On July 15, two mortar bombs were fired near his bunker. One missed him, and one landed right next to him. A mortar bomb’s range is estimated at eight meters. He was merely one and a half meters away from it.
The soldiers from his battalion carried the injured Major Singh to the hospital on a two and a half hour journey in which he experienced severe blood loss and a cardiac arrest. He was declared dead on arrival. But life had other plans for the brave soldier. One anaesthesiologist, Colonel Rajinder Singh, continued to revive him, and Singh returned to start a new lease of life.
He lay in recovery remembering a famous movie dialogue from the iconic movie, Sholay, “Jo dar gaya, samjho mar gaya (he who is afraid is dead) to boost his morale. He also relied on his learnings of Sikhism that taught him to be a saint and a soldier in one breath. He remained hospitalised for a year and underwent several surgeries. His right leg had to be amputated. He also suffered partial hearing loss. He continues to host fifty shrapnels all across his body.
Major Singh was not okay with the sympathetic glances that he saw coming his way as he moved along his life. So he decided to run. From the moment of conviction, it took him ten years to be able to run.
The unsung hero of Kargil:
Did you know that it was a local shepherd who warned the Indian Army about the presence of rival troops?
Tashi Namgyal was out looking for a missing yak, when he saw camouflaged Pakistani troops in Indian territory. He was scanning the mountainside some five kilometres along Jubbar Langpa stream when he saw them digging bunkers. They were armed. Namgyal informed the forces who confirmed the infiltration.
This is how the war started.
He went from lying on the bed to learning to walk, first with a crutch, and then with an artificial leg, all the way to running 26 marathons!
In 2009, he became the first amputee marathon runner in India. In 2011, the Indian Army provided him a blade prosthetic to help him achieve his dreams. It was the first one to be imported to the country. He went on to start “The Challenging Ones”, a support group for amputees that encourages them to thrive using sports as a medium. His graphic novel, GRIT: A Major Story, captures his life in text and art.
He ran the last lap with the Victory Flame at the Vijay Diwas celebration in Drass on July 26, 2019. He also got the Limca People of the Year Award in 2016. He continues to inspire people to rise above the challenges life presents before them and emerge victorious.
Watch Major Singh walk you through his inspirational journey, here:
Remembrance in the time of Corona
This time the celebrations were toned down due to the pandemic. But a solemn ceremony was organised in Jammu and Kashmir’s Udhampur.
Following the war, a Kargil War Memorial was set up at Drass, Jammu and Kashmir. Every year, Vijay Diwas celebrations are started there with a tribute on July 25th. This year, narration of stories about Operation Vijay was organised at Lamochen near Dras. The landmarks of the important battles were visible from this location to an audience of top military officers, dignitaries, and family members of the martyrs. The Army also undertook two mega bike rallies covering more than 1,000 km in the unsparing mountains of the Kashmir Valley and Ladakh, finally converging at the revered Memorial to pay their respect to the martyrs.
For the first time, women police personnel have been deployed at the Kargil War Memorial.
President Ram Nath Kovind laid a wreath at Baramulla War Memorial this year to commemorate the martyrs of the war.Every year, the Prime Minister also pays his tribute to the armed forces at the ‘eternal flame’, Amar Jawan Jyoti, at India Gate in Delhi.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also remembered their sacrifices in a tweet: