Kargil hero recounts his feats of courage during Operation Vijay

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Kolkata, Nov 15 (UNI) ''Kill your enemies on the battlefield, but respect them as soldiers after their death,'' this was the inspirational advice given to his forces by Colonel Lalit Rai, who led the elite 1/11 Gorkha Rifles in Operation Vijay during the Kargil War.

''I asked my boys in the Kargil war not to consider any feat impossible. Any mission can be achieved if you are determined to do it. When you fight with your enemies on the battlefield, you should fight bravely and defeat them, but you should respect them as soldiers after they die,'' Mr Rai said at a programme 'Kargil - Leading From The Front', organised by the FLO, the women's organisation of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) here.

He said four wars had so far been fought between India and Pakistan but every time their soldiers had fled from the battlefield since India has one of the most professional, skilled and courageous Armed Forces in the world.

''The Pakistan government had stated that if necessary they will continue the fight with India for 1,000 years, but the Indian forces will send them back to their country a thousand times,'' Mr Rai said.

Col Rai took over the command in June 1999 of the elite 1/11 Gorkha Rifles in Operation Vijay and led the 'FIRST' into one of the fiercest battles of the Kargil War, on the formidable heights of Khalubar, in the Batalik sector, at altitudes of over 18,000 feet.

Despite grave bullet and splinter injuries on the legs and bleeding profusely, the brave Commanding Officer led his forces from the front to success and the 'FIRST' under his dynamic command, fought with sheer grit and raw courage and achieved victory.

For his conspicuous bravery of an exceptional order and inspirational leadership, the President awarded the Vir Chakra to Col Lalit Rai.

The battalion under his command earned glory by capturing as many as eleven formidable enemy positions and turned the tide of the battle in the Batalik sector.

Besides bagging a large number of gallantry awards, the battalion was awarded the highly coveted Chief of Army Staff, Unit Citation and conferred the title of the 'Bravest of the Brave' for its sterling successes during Operation Vijay.

UNI AKM DPM SY BD1918

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