Shillong (Meghalaya), July 26 : On July 26, 1999, the Indian Armed Forces won the decisive war against Pakistan. In the ferocious battle, many brave young soldiers laid down their lives defending their nation on the inhospitable battlefield of Kargil.
The unparalleled bravery and sacrifice of Kargil brave hearts are still etched in the collective memory of the country. However, few people know about Captain Keishing Clifford Nongrum and his act of extraordinary courage that was responsible for giving the Indian army a crucial edge in the Kargil war.
Talking to South Asia Views at their residence in Shillong the father of Captain Clifford Nongrum said that the entire family had the sixth sense that one day , Captain Clifford would sacrifice his life for the country and make not only the family but the entire country proud .
Showing the last Christmas card sent to his family in Shillong to this this reporter , Clifford’s father with tears in his eyes said that the last Christmas card he sent to the family had a lot of inner meaning . While wishing his entire family , he aptly made it clear that his end was near . He asked the family to be happy and said that come whatever he would one day make the family and the country proud and that what exactly happened .
Keishing Peter recalled how on the night of June 30, 1999, Captain Nongrum’s unit was given the responsibility of securing Point 4812, a peak whose strategic location made it a top priority for the army. In this operation, Captain Keishing Clifford Nongrum was assigned the task of executing the assault on the cliff feature of Point 4812. Climbing the vertical peak from the south eastern direction was nearly impossible, but Captain Nongrum and his determined platoon took up the challenge. They steadily and stealthily clambered up the steep slopes to reach the enemy bunkers at the top.
On the peak, Pakistani infiltrators had entrenched themselves in interconnected bunkers carved out of boulders. This had made them immune to even artillery fire. As a result, on completing their ascent, Lt Nongrum and his battalion had to face strong enemy opposition in the form of heavy mortar and automatic machine gun fire.
Pinned down for about two hours by the heavy and consistent firing, Lt Nongrum decided to do something that would turn the tide for his platoon. With utter disregard for his personal safety, he charged through the fire zone, firing and lobbing grenades at the enemy bunkers. His grenades killed six enemy soldiers holed up in the bunkers, but while throwing them, Lt Nongrum was hit by several bullets.
Severely injured, Capt. Nongrum continued to fight hand-to-hand (he was a boxer too) with the Pakistani soldiers in an attempt to snatch the machine gun in the remaining bunker. In a supreme sacrifice, he chose to fight till his last breath and refused to be rescued. He kept fighting valiantly till he finally succumbed to his injuries on the battlefield.
Even his younger brother recalled while he was on his last vacation to Shillong, how he told him that it could be his last trip to his hometown . ” I still remember how he said that perhaps we would never meet again as he was entrusted to safeguard the border of our country in one of the most sensitive borders ”
Talking to South Asia Views , the down- to -earth and soft spoken , Keshing Peter said perhaps many do not how gutsy his son was.
Recalling one of the incidents he said that there were around 7 to 10 soldiers trapped in snow capped mountains and no one volunteered to rescue them, Captain Clifford set out alone and reached the spot where the jawans were crying for help. ” He immediately made a big hole in the ice filled mountains and put them all together bare body so that the heat from each others body could keep them alive . Next morning , he rescued them to safety.
Born and brought up in Shillong , Captain Keishing Clifford Nongrum was born on March 7, 1975. His father, Keishing Peter, retired as Chief Manager from State Bank of India while his mother, Saily Nongrum, is a homemaker.
As a child, Nongrum was a sincere and obedient student, an avid music lover and the captain of the school football team. He regularly played football to keep himself fit so that he would be able to join the army .
Keshing Peter recalls how he was always in a hurry to cover all educational institutions during his vacations to deliver lectures to motivate the youngsters to join the Army.