Tiger Hill


Apr 4, 2005
It was on May 14 that 8 Sikh was assigned the task of recapturing Tiger Hill. The information given or gathered was scanty. It was believed that only a few Mujahideens were holding the feature. As the assault began in the shape of an initial probing action along the southern approach, intense fire, both direct and indirect, was opened by the enemy. Undeterred by the fire, Subedar Joginder Singh and his platoon continued its march forward and successfully reached the base of the spur leading to the Tiger Hill top. Subedar Joginder Singh, who alongwith Lance Naik Ranjit Singh spearheaded the retaliatory fire, made the supreme sacrifice. The crucial foothold gained by the Subedar proved critical in the ultimate capture of the Tiger Hill.

The quantum of fire of the enemy proved beyond doubt that it was in strength and well-fortified at the Tiger Hill. The Hill complex comprises Tiger Hill (top), Eastern Spur, Western Spur, IndiaGate, Rocky Knob and Helmet.

The Army had planned to isolate Tiger Hill before capturing it. This was achieved by 8 Sikh by May 21 after dare-devil actions by Sepoys Rashwinder Singh, Sukhwinder Singh and Jaswinder Singh in occupying key heights to neutralise enemy fire. In utter disregard to their personal safety, these gallant men succeeded in occupying key positions.

Between May 31 and July 2, the men and officers of this battalion continued to cause heavy damage to the enemy by both direct and indirect fire and continued their progress forward so as to close in on the enemy. Each night, they would burrow through the snow, create a crawl trench and set up a new post -- moving towards the peak slowly but steadily. Unmindful of the extremely harsh weather conditions, with rain, sleet and snow coming upon them along with the enemy fire everyday, the brave soldiers dared their enemy to show up and get ready for their final "kalma". A number of casualties were inflicted.

The assault party lost Lieutenant Kanad Bhatta-charya in a brave patrolling encounter. In all, 10 jawans were killed and 48 others were wounded. These casualties notwithstanding, they closed on and isolated Tiger Hill from three directions. It was imperative that the Western Spur was also captured to bottle up the intruders at Tiger Hill top.

Major Ravinder Singh and Lieutenant Sehrawat accompanied by four JCOs and 52 ORs took up the challenging assignment of capturing the Western Spur. It was on the night of July 4/5 that this group of gallant soldiers of 8 Sikh left amidst the war cries of Bole so Nihal to capture Rohino Horn, Rocky Knob, Helmet and India Gate. These positions had been heavily fortified and were dominated by the enemy from Tiger Hill on the east and Trig Heights on the west. The task was challenging as the approach was from a slope with a 75 to 80 degree gradient.

For the marjivre Sikhs, the extremely bad weather and the steep gradient hardly mattered. Subedar Nirmal Singh, Naib Subedar Karnail Singh and Naib Subedar Ravail Singh established a firm base. Lieutenant RKSehrawat was to coordinate the assault by three teams. By midnight, all the three teams were suitably poised for the capture of India Gate, Helmet and Rocky Knob. As the war cries of Bole So Nihal, Sat Siri Akal rent the air, the men got going and all hell broke loose. Intense enemy shelling and direct firing opened up. A "c@ck fight" ensued during which bunkers were cleared one after another. By 4 am, India Gate and Helmet had been captured. The attacking troops, in the meanwhile, had firmed up defences in an area 700 metres by 500 metres. Construction of protective sangars was immediately taken up. Apprehending a violent retaliation from the enemy, all preparations for repulsing any attack were made.

In fact, two major attacks were repulsed in which Major Iqbal of SSG and Capt Kamal Sher of 12 NLI were killed along with 30 others. Three JCOs - Sub Nirmal Singh and Karnail Singh and Naib Subedar Rawail Singh - and 18 ORs made the supreme sacrifice. The wounded included Major Ravinder Singh and Lieutenant Sherawat besides 18 ORs. The capture and defence of the Western Spur facilitated the capture of Tiger Hill top on July 7. The unit lost a total of 35 men. About 70 werewounded -- a high price. But by sheer grit , 8 Sikh won the day at Tiger Hill. After 8 Sikh had accomplished its task in the high traditions of the regiment, it was the turn of 14 Sikh, the youngest of the Sikh battalions, to teach another lesson to the enemy.

On May 27 the battalion was airlifted to Leh. The advance party led by Major Rohit Sehgal had already been moved to Channigund to contain the enemy's intrusion in Kaksar area. This party occupied a defensive locality to prevent any further intrusion into the sensitive Batalik sector and provide a firm base for offensive operations which were to follow.

On May 27, the enemy brought down effective and intense fire on this defensive location. To neutralise enemy fire, Sepoy Buta Singh, in an act of exemplary courage and bravery, moved the Medium Machine Gun to an advantageous postion and brought effective fire on the enemy for about four hours. The enemy concentrated its fire to neutralise effective MMG fire. Sepoy Buta Singh, hit by small arms fire of the enemy, continued to operate his MMG till he breathed his last and prevented the enemy from capturing the Company defended locality.

Immediately on arrival at Leh, 14 Sikh dispatched a Company column to Chorbatla to strengthen the lightly held position there. The Company moved to Hanuthang and on to Handanbrok covering 22 km at an altitude exceeding 15,000 feet. This was a feat in itself and reflected the physical and mental robustness of the brave Sikh soldiers.

On June 7, the balance of 14 Sikh was given the responsibility of Chorbatla. It moved and occupied the commanding heights along the Line of Control.

The enemy activity in the sector was at a somewhat low key. Naib Subedar Jasbir Singh, in an exemplary effort, established a Section Post at point 5620 (approx. 19,000 ft). His drive and enterprise secured the eastern flank of Chorbatla. Subsequently, the enemy was totally dominated.