Indian Army

Lion of Ladakh – Story of the first victory of Kargil

Colonel Sonam Wangchuk, MVC, the Lion of Ladakh is a personality synonymous with exemplary courage, wonderful decision making, and commendable leadership in India. He is the man who along with his Ladakh Scouts notched India’s first triumph in Kargil by winning Chorbat La. On the platform of I Am Still Human, Colonel Sonam Wangchuk revealed his entire journey from being ambushed by the enemy to counter ambushing and ultimately conquering over it.

In his conversation with Lt. Gen. Gurmit Singh, PVSM, UYSM, AVSM, VSM, Former Deputy Chief of Army Staff, he talked about his experience behind receiving the second highest gallantry award, Maha Vir Chakra.

Colonel Sonam Wangchuk began by telling that he was told there was a special mission for him. Before this mission, he and his team of scouts had the chance to seek the blessings of his holiness, Dalai Lama who gave them Prasad and blessed their souls. When he proceeded with his mission, he was asked to scout the ridgeline with his men and report if they found anything suspicious.

After asking for orders, he moved along with 25 boys and encountered sudden firing from the enemy side. Only 5 men including him were at the head of the column and the remaining were way behind which he found was very fortunate, as more people at the front would have caused more casualties.

The enemy was stronger at that moment. One of the hawaldars got wounded on the chest which turned the white snow turning red. At this instant, Colonel Sonam Wangchuk decided to observe the enemy’s action first and fire only when the enemy is visible. Fighting the enemy was not the only challenge. With sub-zero degree temperature and two feet snow, the soldiers had no camouflage uniforms and had to carry 25-30 kilograms of weight of their backs. But the tables turned soon for them.

As Colonel Sonam Wangchuk and Hawaldar No. 11 proceeded with their mission courageously, they found that the enemy had exhausted their immediate ammunition. According to Colonel Sonam Wangchuk, it happened due to some divine intervention.

Also, there were some other incidents that led to the turn of events. At about 3 in the morning, the JCO along with 3 boys climbed the Observation Post. When they reached there at around 5, he found some enemy personnel climbing up. He wanted all those enemy personnel dead and so he decided to wait and fire only when the enemy is in the proper range.

His patience and wisdom at such a tough time led to that enemy personnel dead, leading to panic like situation in the Pakistani troops. As it came to the knowledge of Colonel Sonam Wangchuk that the enemy was trying to climb up to dominate the Indian army, he took the decision to leave the place against his orders of staying down. With all the firing, they were thrown down to the base again.

When one feels dejected, even one thing in favor feels like a miracle. Around 12 the same day, clouds starting appearing from where the enemy was firing. So they climbed up again and reached on the top at 4. The enemy kept firing down below as they were unaware of the fact that the Indian Army had climbed up. Colonel Sonam Wangchuk taking advantage of the moment took a scout with him and started moving towards the enemy position. At this point, the Indian Army was in a dominating position which created panic and facilitated in killing 8 more enemy personnel.

The victory of Chorbat La was a result of quick decision making, excellent leadership, and tremendous courage. Besides Colonel Sonam Wangchuk, 6 of his boys received gallantry awards too. When asked about how he felt on receiving Maha Vir Chakra, Colonel Sonam Wangchuk humbly said that everyone looks forwards to such a moment and so did he. He felt proud of his family and his unit. To him, getting the chance to serve the nation and receiving Maha Vir Chakra was a very great feeling.

Some other incidents besides the Kargil War were discussed during the session. One of them was about his experience as an instructor at the Indian Military Academy. Colonel Sonam Wangchuk said that it was a great learning period for him. In fact, he thought that IMA is a great institution and he wouldn’t be able to do justice to it, but that phase was an eye-opener for him.

They also talked about an ironic incident where Colonel Sonam Wangchuk came back from Kargil unharmed but lost his finger in a scooter accident. He was on his way back from the military hospital where he went to see the cadets admitted there. It was very dark and so he couldn’t escape from a bus hitting him. This unfortunate incident led to him losing one finger and many other injuries.

Lt. Gen. Gurmit Singh describes Colonel Sonam Wangchuk as a very simple, innocent, and divinely rich personality. He insisted that everyone should watch the movie “Lion of Ladakh” at least once in their lifetime. Colonel Sonam Wangchuk, MVC is a patriot and keeps himself involved in social work. Besides being a living legend, he is also one of the most respected youth icons of India.

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Indian Army : Sarv Dharam & Professionalism

I AM STILL HUMAN wishes Eid Mubarak to all our brothers and sisters. Eid in 2020 is a very special one. People may not be able to celebrate it as every year but the love and faith is still intact and everlasting. May this auspicious occasion of Eid provides everyone good health, and further increase the spirit of brotherhood and unity. As is evident by the picture, we will today understand Army’s perspective on religion. One of the first things that the soldiers are acquainted with is the concept of “Sarvadharmasthal”. Sarvadharmasthal is a pious place with a Temple, Mosque, Gurudwara and a Church all together. The concept of celebrating all religions is one of the many beautiful traits of the Indian Army. This probably is one the reasons of the strong brotherhood within the force. This lets them have knowledge of all the religions, respecting all of them, and enhancing their overall personalities. The same also motivates the army men to be good humans and good soldiers. Army does not judge anyone by their name or caste, but only by their efficiency and courage.

This picture from an Eid celebration in Srinagar is a beautiful evidence of the secularity of India and its Armed forces. Three honorable army persons from different religions (Hindu, Sikh, and Muslim from left to right) jointly came together and took part in the Eid Ceremony. The locals from the area also joined all the ranks in the celebration which made the celebration even more special. This event was covered by media extensively which attracted a lot of mixed opinions. On the positive side, this beautifully portrayed the secularity of the armed forces and was widely appreciated. Among the negative ones, there were some people who suggested a conversion to Islam to the people who took part in the ceremony, fully ignoring the whole idea of secularity. One should always prevent from the negativity around and from being wrongly driven in the name of religion. Our army men have only one religion – ‘INDIAN’ and they mention it with their heads held high. Once having joined the armed forces, religion becomes immaterial. The only concept that is followed here is the One India Principle. An Indian soldier respects all the religions and holds high esteem for the democracy and constitution of India.

Being a country with diverse religions, differing perceptions are very likely. Among many who like to live happily with their brothers and sisters from different religions, there always are some people who have an agenda to be accomplished, or interpret the teachings of religion in a wrong manner. Politics in the name of religion is one of the major issues that India has to face every hour. This does not stop even when people are dying of Covid-19. The selfish motives of these people lead to feuds between the common men, ultimately leading to the success of people who planted this virus. Living in a democracy like India, it is our duty to act responsibly and not fall for the words of those who always have their ulterior motives. We should always find good in the teachings of religion and anyone who tries to convey the wrong meaning which destroys our unity, should be eradicated. Any religion does not teach about wars or disputes. Keeping this thing in mind, we should understand what is good for us and for our brotherhood. Secularity is an integral part of the constitution of India and we should do our best so that it doesn’t fall into jeopardy.

The pandemic of Corona Virus has led to people celebrating Eid from their homes. Some of them are unfortunately even away from their loved ones. But still what makes this Eid special are the virtues of love, affection and faith despite the distance. Corona Virus in disguise, has taught us a lot of things including how to be united and how to be a helping hand for the people in need irrespective of their religion. On this Eid, NGOs like ours distributing kheer and other basic utilities to the underprivileged people away from their families, conveying the message that we all are their family. Distance and all the negativity may bring a dispute among us for some time but more strongly we are together whenever a need arises. On this special occasion of Eid-Ul-Fitr, we may not be together physically but let us take this opportunity to pledge to be together in thick and thin, being nothing but Indians!

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