Col Narendra “Bull” Kumar, who helped India secure the Siachen Glacier, died at 84 | India News

NEW DELHI: Colonel Narendra “Bull” Kumar, a very decorated Army officer and a “death defiant” climber which contributed to convincing India’s military leadership of the strategic importance of Siachen Glacier and whose glacier reconnaissance expedition led the Indian Army to launch Operation Meghdoot in 1984 to secure the frozen heights of a Pakistan aggression, he died at the Army’s Research and Recommendation (R&R) Hospital here at the age of 87 on Thursday after suffering from age-related illnesses. If he had not undertaken this expedition, the entire Siachen Glacier – covering an area of ​​almost 10,000 square kilometers – would be in Pakistan today.
Lieutenant General Sanjay Kulkarni (Retd), a former DG infantry officer who was trained at the high-ranking war school of the Indian Army, Gulmarg, as a lieutenant when Colonel Kumar was his commanding officer and who also participated in Op Meghdoot, stated for TOI that “Col Kumar earned the nickname“ Bull ”after having a fight with his senior Sunith Francis Rodrigues at the National Defense Academy. Although Rodrigues won the match and later became the head of the army, Kumar won the name “Bull” for himself. Like a bull, he would challenge directly, without bothering about the consequences. A legendary climber, a true gentleman and officer. ”
Col Kumar’s Siachen mission began after a German explorer showed him an American map of northern Kashmir that marked LoC farther east than expected. Realizing that the United States appeared to have mapped much of eastern Karakoram, including Siachen, to Pakistan, Col Kumar sent the map directly to the then DGMO and asked permission for a recreation. Col Kumar and his team crossed seven mountain ranges – the Pir Panjal chain, the Himalayas, Zanskar, Ladakh, Saltoro, Karakoram and Agil – and gathered valuable information about Pakistan’s intention to occupy Siachen.
“Shortly after Col Kumar’s recreation in 1978, India began long-range glacier patrols, extending to 2-3 months in 1982, ’83 and ’84 to keep an eye on Pakistani projects. In 1984, Pakistan wanted to launch an operation on May 1 to conquer Siachen, but India prevented the attack by launching Op Meghdoot on April 13, 1984, “he told TOI lt. Gen (R) Kulkarni. To honor Col Kumar’s immense contribution to the mission, an armed base in Siachen is named after him as the “Kumar base,” an honor generally given to martyrs, he said.
Born in Rawalpindi in 1933, Kumar joined the army in 1950. He was commissioned to the Kumaon Rifles in June 1954. The mountain connection was born when Col Kumar met Tenzing Norgay, director of the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in Darjeeling. The soldier-climber, who had lost four fingers from his fingers in 1961, was the first to climb Nandadevi (1964), the first to put India on Mount Everest in 1965, and the first to climb Kanchenjunga from the hardest north face. -is in 1976 – a mountaineering feat described by the British Alpine Journal as “much more difficult than climbing Everest”. He had also entered Everest’s oxygen-depleted death zone of more than 8,000 m more than 20 times.
Even his list of medals is long. In 1965, Col Kumar was awarded the Padma Shri and later the Arjuna Prize for the Everest expedition. Kumar is the only colonel to date with the Param Vishisht Seva Medal (PVSM) distinction in all three services, which is generally given to generals. He was also awarded the Kirti Chakra and the Ati Vishisht Seva Medal.
Like the father, his children also won laurels. Married to Mridula, Col Kumar’s daughter Shailaja Kumar is India’s first winter Olympic woman to go downhill skiing in 1988. Her son Akshay Kumar was an adventure travel professional who led Mercury Himalayan Explorations, a among the first rafting companies to sail in the Ganges and Brahmaputra. But in September this year, Akshay died of a cardiac arrest in Delhi. Col Kumar had been “broken heart ever since.”