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  4. Kargil Vijay Diwas: The Capture of Chorbat La | The turning point of the war

Kargil Vijay Diwas: The Capture of Chorbat La | The turning point of the war

Kargil Vijay Diwas: How India captured the Chorbat La which became the turning point of the war under then Major Sonam Wangchuk.

Shashwat Bhandari Written By: Shashwat Bhandari New Delhi Updated on: July 26, 2022 21:59 IST
Representational image
Image Source : INDIA TV Representational image

Highlights

  • Chorbat La is one of the many awe-inspiring stories of the 1999 Kargil War
  • Operation was conducted under Lieutenant Colonel (retd.), then Major Sonam Wangchuk of Ladakh Scouts
  • Colonel Wangchuk, then a major awarded Maha Vir Chakra for this valour and bravery

Kargil Vijay Diwas: The recapture of Chorbat La is one of the many awe-inspiring stories of the 1999 Kargil War with Pakistan when Indian forces recaptured key positions from Pakistani insurgent groups. The victory of Chorbat La laid the foundation of many other battles fought during the Kargil war. The operation was conducted under Lieutenant Colonel (retd.), then Major Sonam Wangchuk of Ladakh Scouts. The Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) is in the Khaplu tehsil, Ghanche District of Gilgit–Baltistan while the Indian side is in the Nubra tehsil, Leh district of Ladakh. Chorbat stretches from the edge of Khaplu to the Chalunka village of Nubra. Bordering the Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir, Chorbat La is a mountain pass that was used by the Ladakhi King for invasions.

How India gained control of Chorbat La 

  • At 18,000 feet, the challenge was more than just fighting the enemy because the cold weather here was deadlier here than a bullet.  
  • The operation was conducted by Lieutenant Colonel (retd.), then Major Sonam Wangchuk and his team from the Ladakh scouts.
  • Major Sonam Wangchuk was posted in Ladakh Scouts in 1997. The Chorbat La lies in the Handangbrok region.
  • In 1999, India and Pakistan signed a Lahore Declaration in order to resolve bilateral issues yet insurgency attacks continued from across the border. The Pakistan government maintained that insurgents were related to Pakistani army but even the world knew the reality that Pakistan state was involved in this.
  • The Indian army took measures to pre-empt attack in some critical areas. One of these missions was given to Major (then) Sonam Wangchuk in the mountain pass Chorbat La.
  • Major Sonam Wangchuk was on leave when he was called back to bass and briefed about the situation. Wangchuk set up an Administrative Base (AMB) and asked Captain (Retired) Tundup Dorpe, SM, 5 Ladakh Scouts to observe whether there is any enemy activity or not.
  • In the dead of the night and by the dawn, Tundup saw that four men were coming from the dawn the hill.

India Tv - Kargil Vijay Diwas, Chorbat La, Kargil War

Image Source : INDIA TVChorbat La | The turning point of the Kargil War.

  • Subedar Tshering Angchok of the 1 Ladakh Scouts told Tundup that if they (insurgents) would reach before them, then they would have certainly attacked but Tundup told Angchok to not open fire till they would have come closer. He asked him to take cover and make sure he gets them.
  • They (Major Sonam Wangchuk and his team) stormed Chorbat La in 1999 which turned the tide for the Kargil war.
  • Colonel Wangchuk and his men re-cpatured the pass from Pakistani troops. They climbed amid harsh weather conditions while constantly being fired upon by the enemy.
  • Major Wangchuk (then) and his men fired back at the intruders which forced them to flee to the Pakistani side leaving their arms and tents behind.
  • The Indian forces recovered letters from the abandoned tents that established that the intruders belonged to the Pakistani Army. The peak is of strategic importance as it enables the Indian army to tactically control 12 square km of Pakistani territory in the Karubar Bowl.
  • Domination of this area also threatened the Pakistani troops opposite Turtok Sector from the rear. So whoever controlled Pt 5310 also controlled the 12 square km of Karubar Bowl.
  • Point 5310 is a mountain peak in the Chorbat La area in the vicinity of Kargil.
  • Colonel Wangchuk, then a major awarded Maha Vir Chakra for this valour and bravery. Maha Vik Chakra is India's second highest wartime military decoration. 
  • Wangchuk and his team held the post for 14 days despite counter-attacks.

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