Mumbai: Ten years after India’s stirring military victory at Tiger Hill in Kargil, the then Army Chief General VP Malik has broken his silence.
For the first time on television, he has confessed that the high casualties suffered by the Indian Army during the Kargil War were agonising for the military leadership. The General bares his heart out in a rare emotional interview to CNN-IBN’s Vishal Thapar.
For the General who led the blood and guts Indian fight back at Kargil, the deaths of 527 troops in pushing out Pakistani intruders were traumatic. “The most critical moment I was always scared of was the morning briefing, when I was told that in the last 24 hours we have lost so many people. That was the most scary part of the day for me,” said the war-time Army Chief.
As the Indian fight back rolled on from Tololing to Tiger Hill, the death of heroes like Captain Vikram Batra – whom he had personally commended for valour in the battlefield – were heavy blows. I remember giving him a bottle of scotch after his first battle, which he had done so well. After .4875 had been captured, there was no Vikram Batra because we had lost him. So it hurts,” described Gneral Malik.
Captain Batra’s victory call sign, Yeh Dil Maange More (the heart desires more), is one of the iconic highlights of the brutal war, it still haunts General Malik. “I’ve still got that clip with me,” said General Malik. In the thick of all the mayhem of the battlefield, there was loneliness for the man in the middle.
“Those were tense moments and sometimes we didn’t sleep properly,” he said.
With his country’s honour and his own reputation on the line, the General turned to his foot soldier on the battlefront for motivation.
“In Kargil nobody ever told me this can’t be done, every soldier was full of high spirit,” he recalled. It was the spirit of the Indian soldier on the battlefield, which steeled the leadership. And therein a famous victory was forced.