Na chhodnu” (“don’t spare them” )
A Kargil war Hero
Lieutenant Manoj Kumar Pandey, PVC (25 June 1975 – 3 July 1999), was an Indian Army officer of the 1st battalion, 11 Gorkha Rifles who was posthumously awarded India’s highest military honour, the Param Vir Chakra, for his audacious courage and leadership during the Kargil War in 1999. He was killed during the attack on Jubar Top, Khalubar Hills in Batalik Sector, Kargil. His actions have led to him being referred to as the “Hero of Batalik”.
Manoj Pandey was born on 25 June 1975 in Rudha village, Sitapur district, Uttar Pradesh, India. He was the son of Gopi Chand Pandey, a small-time businessman living in Lucknow. He was eldest in his family. He was educated at Uttar Pradesh Sainik School, Lucknow and Rani Laxmi Bai Memorial Senior Secondary School. He had a keen interest in sports with boxing and body building in particular. He was adjudged the best cadet of junior division NCC of Uttar Pradesh directorate in 1990. He graduated from the National Defence Academy in 90th course and belonged to Mike squadron. He commissioned into the 1st battalion, 11 Gorkha Rifles
Prior to his selection, during his Services Selection Board (SSB) interview, the interviewer asked him, “Why do you want to join the Army?” He immediately replied, “I want to win the Param Vir Chakra.” True to his words, Lieutenant Manoj Kumar Pandey did win the country’s highest gallantry honour but posthumously.
He forced back the intruders on 11 June 1999 at Batalik Sector in the Kargil War. He led his men to capture the Jubar top which was considered as important due to its strategic location. Quickly sizing up the situation, the young officer led his platoon along a narrow, treacherous ridge that led to the enemy position. While still short of the objective, the enemy fired upon the Indian soldiers effectively stalling the Indian attack. Displaying great courage, he surged ahead of his troops and charged at the enemy with a full-throated battle cry through a hail of bullets.
Although wounded in the shoulder and leg, he pressed on his solitary charge with grim determination, until he closed in on the first bunker. Then in ferocious hand-to-hand combat, he killed two of the enemy and cleared the first bunker. It was the turning point. Inspired by their leader’s spontaneous valour, the troops charged at the enemy and fell upon them. Unmindful of his grievous wounds, he rushed from bunker to bunker urging his men on. Critically injured, he collapsed at the final bunker and finally succumbed to his injuries. But by this time he had already captured the bunker with his men.
Lieutenant Manoj Kumar Pandey took part in a series of boldly led attacks during Operation Vijay; forcing back the intruders with heavy losses in Batalik including the capture of Jubar Top.
On the night of 3 July 1999 during the advance to Khalubar as his platoon approached its final objective, it came under heavy and intense enemy fire from the surrounding heights.Lieutenant Pandey was tasked to clear the interfering enemy positions to prevent his battalion from getting day lighted, being in a vulnerable position. He quickly moved his platoon to an advantageous position under intense enemy fire, sent one section to clear the enemy positions from the right and he proceeded to clear the enemy positions from the left.
Fearlessly assaulting the first enemy position, he killed two enemy personnel and destroyed the second position by killing two more. He was injured on the shoulder and legs while clearing the third position. Undaunted and without caring for his grievous injuries, he continued to lead the assault on the fourth position urging his men and destroyed the same with a grenade, even as he got a fatal burst on his forehead.
His last words were “Na chhodnu” (“don’t spare them” in Nepali). This singular daredevil act of Lieutenant Pandey provided the critical firm base for the companies, which finally led to capture of Khalubar. The officer, however, succumbed to his injuries. Lieutenant Manoj Kumar Pandey, thus, displayed most conspicuous bravery, indomitable courage, outstanding leadership and devotion to duty and made the supreme sacrifice in the highest traditions of the Indian Army.
• Manoj Kumar Pandey was awarded the Param Vir Chakra, India’s highest medal for gallantry, posthumously.
• His father, Mr. Gopichand Pandey, received the award from the President of India on the 52nd Indian Republic Day.
• Uttar Pradesh Sainik School, Lucknow has named its new auditorium after Lieutenant Pandey. Its foundation stone was laid by General VK Singh in 2011.
• Uttar Pradesh Sainik School, Lucknow conducts an inter school football tournament annually as ‘ Late Lieutenant Manoj Kumar Pandey memorial inter school football tournament’ in school itself.
• Uttar Pradesh Sainik School, Lucknow has its main gate named after him.
• The Army Welfare Housing Organization (AWHO) designed and constructed an apartment complex for veterans in Ghaziabad district, Uttar Pradesh, and named it for Pandey as “Manoj Vihar”.
• The army quarters near the Cardio Thoracic Center(CTC) hospital in Pune is named after Martyr Capt Manoj Pandey as “Capt. Manoj Pandey Enclave”
• The National Defence Academy named the science block as the “Manoj Pandey Block”.
• A roundabout is also named after Martyr Capt.Manoj Pandey as “Lieutenant Manoj Pandey Chowk” in his home district Sitapur, Uttar Pradesh and center of Gomti Nagar, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India.
• An assembly hall was made in sainik school Lucknow where he was educated which is a symbol of motivation for sainik school cadets
• A hall is made in the name of Capt. Manoj at Service Selection Center Allahabad named as Manoj Pandey Block.
• A gallery in the Kargil War Museum at Dras is named after him.
• In the memory of his greatest efforts to save the nation from the enemy forces, Rani Laxmi Bai Memorial Senior Secondary School constructed an auditorium in his name, which was inaugurated by his father and mother.