Tri-color flutters at 4660 metre strategic mountain
A moment of great pride, says President
Capt, 11 jawans killed; large casualties of enemy
NEW DELHI: Tiger Hill, the 4660 metre strategic mountain position from which Pakistani soldiers dominated the Srinagar-Leh highway in Drass sector, was recaptured after a surprise three pronged attack launched by the 18 Grenadiers, an army spokesman said here today.
"Absolutely.. The Indian flag is right on top", Army spokesman Col Bikram Singh said as he announced the success of the biggest, and most important, operation of the Indian army in the ongoing Kargil conflict.
President K R Narayanan hailed the recapture of Tiger Hill and said it was a moment of great pride and satisfaction for the entire nation.
"We applaud the unparalled bravery, perseverance and commitment of our soldiers—young officers and jawans—who have made this achievement possible", Mr Narayanan said.
Tiger Hill was taken during the night operations which began yesterday. With its capture, the eviction of the infiltrators from other positions in Drass sector will be facilitated, Col Singh said.
"The attack was launched along three unexpected approaches, which completely surprised the enemy. As per the last reports received from troops in contact, mopping up operations on Tiger hill top are still in progress".
Col Singh said "we have got the top but in the periphery certain pockets of intrusion are still there. The mopping up operations is to evict them from there".
In other operations in Batalik and Drass sectors during the past 24 hours, one officer, Capt M K Pandey of 11 Gorkha Rifles, and 11 jawans were killed taking the toll in the Kargil conflict to 252. A large number of casualties were also inflicted on the Pakistan army which was being assessed.
Replying to a question whether the National Highway 1A was now fully clear from enemy target, Col Singh said at certain places observation was still left but these would be cleared soon.
He said Tiger Hill could be the turning point of the conflict which began on May 8 as it would facilitate eviction of the Pakistan army intruders and militants from other areas.
"There is euphoria about it being captured as it was the most significant position held by the enemy", he said.
The 18 Grenadiers won a citation from the Chief of Army Staff for this exceptionally gallant and sterling performance and for the recapture of Tololing on the night of May 27-28, Point 4590 on June 11-12 and Three Pimples on June 28-29.
The Indian Air Force also, rightly, took credit for the victory at Tiger Hill.
It had carried out some devastating air strikes on two enemy camps located on top of Tiger hill which severely degraded the capability of the intruders to sustain their forces on the dominating hill feature.
Just a couple of days ago, the Air Force once again devastated an enemy supply camp just 2.5 kms west of Tiger hill, Group Capt D N Ganesh, Joint Director of Air Operations, said at the briefing.
He said one of the key factors of air operations in the mountains was that the effect of relentless air strikes took time to manifest itself on the ground.
"The fall of Tololing ridge was one such example when three weeks of coordinated air strikes and ground action resulted in the joint aim being accomplished with eviction of the enemy from the area. Today, with the fall of Tiger Hill this achievement underscores, once again, the essence of joint Army-Air Force operations".
He said the crippling effect of these attacks was apparent in the success achieved by the jawans on the ground who in the face of stiff resistance by the enemy continued to achieve the objective.
The Gp Capt said air strikes were carried out against a supply camp of the infiltrators in Kaksar area today afternoon, the first attack during the last two days.
Due to extensive clouding there were no air strikes last night though IAF missions did take off and proceed to the target area both last night as well as this morning. No air strikes were envisaged in the Drass sector due to the proximity of Indian troops.
Indian troops had seized all the ridges around Tiger hills and cut off the enemy supply line.
Air Force combat jets had pounded the two enemy supply camps atop Tiger Hills with devastating effect till Friday afternoon before ground troops launched the final assault, an Air Force spokesman said.
IAF fighters had also hit another supply camp 2.5 kms west of this lone conical feature in the Mushkoh valley.
Air strikes were resumed after 48 hours this afternoon and an enemy supply camp in Kaksar area bombarded, he said.
While mopping up operations were being carried out in Tiger Hills, Pakistan army continued unprovoked artillery and mortar shelling in Keran, Poonch, Krishnaghati, Bhimbergali, Nowshera and Akhnoor areas.
Reports of fierce battle came in from Batalik where one position was cleared of the intruders by the Indian troops and large quantities of arms and ammunition including heavy machine guns, universal machine guns, G-3 and AK rifles and their ammunition recovered from this position. Two radio sets and Pakistani Rupees 5548 were also recovered.
In the last 24 hours, Capt M K Pandey of 11 Gorkha Rifles and 11 jawans laid down their lives in Drass and Batalik sectors, while large number of intruders were killed.
Col Avtar Singh, Colonel General Staff of Kargil Divisional Headquarters, told PTI that 13 enemy soldiers were killed in the operations in Batalik. Since May 4 when ‘Operation Vijay’ was launched, at least 150 Pakistani armymen and mercenaries have been killed only in Batalik sector.
The operations in Batalik were going on in mountains ranging from 5000 to 6000 metres which were situated between the Indus river and Ladakh region.
He said searches were on and the Indian troops were taking stock of what had been left behind by the Pakistani regulars and mercenaries in the positions they were holding till now.
Asked if any prisoners of war had been taken in the Tiger Hills operations, the spokesman said the moment we have details, we will share with you.
He said the morale of the enemy was pretty low mainly due to the privations they had been facing since the Indian armed forces had succeeded in almost blocking the lines of supplies.
There is a growing feeling of resentment among the troops of the Northern Light Infantry (of Pakistan) that they were being made scapegoats and used as cannon fodder in these operations, he said.
Meanwhile an External Affairs Ministry spokesman said at the briefing that there was not the slightest sign on the ground that the Pakistani soldiers were withdrawing. They were continuing to make desperate attempts to keep the intruders supplied in the residual areas.
Intelligence reports, Col Singh said revealed that the soldiers of the Northern Light Infantry, facing shortage of medicines, arms and ammunition and other supplies were in very low morale as they had the feeling that they were being made scapegoats.
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