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The soldier who became a legend

Reportage: Archana Masih. Photographs: Rediff Archives and the Batra family. Design: Dominic Xavier, Rajesh Karkera

Dawn would hit Peak 5140 earlier than the rest of Jammu and Kashmir and Lieutenant Vikram Batra only had one night to finish his mission.

Pakistani invaders had taken positions in bunkers at a height of 17,000 feet. From their vantage point, the enemy could see the advance of the Indian troops and target them.

The mission was risky for the Indian soldiers, but it had to be accomplished.

It was the night of June 19, 1999, about five weeks after the Kargil war began, when Lieutenant Batra and Captain Sanjeev Jamwal -- both from the Kangra valley in Himachal Pradesh -- had set out with their men to recapture the peak in the cover of darkness.

The operation was much too dangerous to be carried out during the day.

Aware of the enemy's advantage, Lt Batra -- who was later promoted to captain on the battlefield -- decided he would attack the enemy from the rear. He commanded his men to climb the treacherous mountain stealthily.

Peak 5140, the highest point on the Tololing Ridge, was one of the most arduous and crucial peaks in the Drass region. If it fell, it would clear the Pakistanis from that sector and pave the way for further victories.

He knew they had to win.

Captain Vikram Batra in the Drass sector

Also see: Kargil's first hero

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