To mark the victory and sacrifices of the Indian Armed Forces during Operation Vijay, Point 5140 at Dras in Kargil sector has been renamed as Gun Hill on Saturday.
It was a widely accepted fact that till the Artillery was not utilized optimally, success eluded the forces during the Kargil conflict in 1999. Once the Artillery was used in full force, it broke the back of the Pakistan forces and their will to fight in the Dras Sector at Point 5140. They fled the area as the Indian Army managed to break the deadlock.
It was the Gunners who were silently behind all the victories during Op Vijay achieved by the Indian Army loud and thundering. And to pay tribute to the Brave Gunners, Point 5140 has been renamed as Gun Hill. So much so that the Pakistan side was not able to handle the fire and fury of the red hot barrels. By June that year there was no tactical success in the war and there was no military or non-military solution in sight. Consolidated Artillery firepower played a very critical role during the Kargil war.
Action at Point 5140
This was the most dominating feature, approximately 1500 meters to the north of the immensely famous Tololing top. And was providing reinforcements continuously and was also a dominating depth locality for Tololing top.
During the last stage of clearing the bunkers at Tololing Top, Major Vivek Gupta of 2 RAJPUTANA RIFLES fell. A young Captain Mridul Kumar Singh of the Artillery Forward Observation Officer with the attacking Company, who led the men to put the national flag on the top. They also beat multiple Pakistani counterattacks.
Describing the power of artillery, Lt Gen K Ravi Prasad, Ex Director General of Artillery, then with 41 Field Regiment has said, “The ferocity of firepower can be gauged from the fact that a total of 26,000 shells containing 95 Tons of TNT and 527 Tons of steel were delivered.”
After the Tololing Top was captured, the focus then shifted to capture Point 5140; this was an important feature to regain control over Tololing. This was important to resume free traffic on the National Highway Number 1 joining the Ladakh valley with Srinagar and that too with minimum collateral damage.
According to the Indian Army the Tololing operations had cost the lives of nine soldiers and 23 critically injured. And by then it was apparent that the Pakistani Army had once again used extreme barbarity as tools of statecraft to occupy areas which were located deep inside the Line of Control (LOC).
Impact of Indian Air Force (IAF)
It was largely psychological. Apart from mental dislocation, IAF could hardly cause damage to the fortified protective shelter which were made of stones of the Pakistan Army perched on the reverse slopes. Airpower was succeeding and the IAF lost one MI 17 helicopter to a shoulder fired missile.
The number of body bags hurt the morale of the soldiers and a decision was taken to use Big Cannon and reduce the enemy’s bunkers to dust. Innovative means of delivering firepower on Point 5140 were adopted. The Artillery decided to fire in high angles from several directions using different ammunition.
Mighty 155 millimeter BOFORS, guns ranging from 120 millimeter mortar were all deployed along 50 kilometers of NH1 from Matyan to Thasgam. And they together fired on the enemy bunkers and managed to spread terror in the rank and file of the Pakistani Army.
According to an official statement of the Ministry of Defence, ‘Enraged Bull’ Brigadier (Later Maj Gen) Lakhwinder Singh, Yudh Seva Medal (Retired) who was the Commander 8 Mountain Artillery Brigade had organised the firepower codenamed SHATRUNASH. There were 100 blazing guns which were coordinated by Commanding Officer of 197 Field Regiment, Colonel (Later Maj Gen) Alok Deb, Sena Medal ,Vishisht Seva Medal (Retired).
To effectively silence the Pakistani intruders, together Gunner Officers who were accompanied by the fighting troops carried out modifications to the firepower on the move and managed to reduce all their bunkers to dust.