Col. ‘Bull’ Kumar, instrumental in securing Siachen glacier, dies at 87

Colonel Narinder ‘Bull’ Kumar   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Colonel Narinder ‘Bull’ Kumar (Retd.), instrumental in the Army launching Operation Meghdoot and securing the dominating heights of Siachen Glacier in 1984, died at the Army’s Research and Referral (R&R) hospital here on Thursday. He was 87 and was suffering from age-related ailments.

“First to report on Pakistani mischief in Siachen sending patrol and mountaineering expeditions to the Glacier area. India was thus able to pre-empt Pakistani attempt to occupy Saltoro Range… Salute!,” said former Army Chief Gen. VP Malik on twitter.

It was based on the recce reports from his expeditions to the Siachen Glacier and the Saltoro Range as Commandant of the “High Altitude Warfare School (HAWS) that the Army launched “Op Meghdoot” in 1984, narrowly pre-empting Pakistan’s attempts in the process.

On April 13, 1984, India launched Operation Meghdoot to capture the 76.4-km glacier on the Saltoro ridge. A platoon of the 4 Kumaon led by then Captain Sanjay Kulkarni planted the Indian flag at Bilafond La. The operation on the world’s highest battlefield continues till date, making it the longest continuing operation of its kind in the world.

Col. Kumar was commissioned from the Indian Military Academy (IMA) Dehradun in the Kumoan Regiment in 1953. An avid mountaineer, he was the first Indian to climb Mt. Nanda Devi. He climbed Mt. Everest in 1965, Mt. Blanc (the highest peak in the Alps) and later Mt. Kangchenchanga from the toughest North East spur. He climbed all these peaks despite losing four toes due to frost bite in earlier expeditions, an Army officer said. In 1981, as a member of the Antarctica Task Force he played a stellar role, he said.

Col. Kumar was awarded Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award, in 1965. He was decorated with Param Vishisht Seva Medal (PVSM), Kirti Chakra and Ati Vishisht Seva Medal (AVSM). He is also a recipient of the Mac Gregor Medal awarded to armed forces personnel for valuable military reconnaissance. The battalion headquarters on the glacier located close to an altitude of 16,000 feet is named “Kumar post” in his honour.

Col. Kumar is survived by his wife and daughter Shailaja.

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Printable version | Apr 23, 2021 1:41:46 AM |

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