The Tiger of Drass: Capt Anuj Nayyar, a Kargil Hero

Col. Arun Hariharan | Updated on: Apr 28, 2022
About the Book:
 The Tiger of Drass: Capt Anuj Nayyar, 23, Kargil Hero
Meena Nayyar and Himmat Singh Shekawat
Harper Collins
179 pages; Rs 299

About the Book:  The Tiger of Drass: Capt Anuj Nayyar, 23, Kargil Hero Meena Nayyar and Himmat Singh Shekawat Harper Collins 179 pages; Rs 299

Meena Nayyar, the mother of Mahavir Chakra awardee Capt Anuj Nayyar, and Himmat Singh Shekhawat have written a very personalized account of the young war hero who distinguished himself in the Kargil conflict

“I have enhanced my skills in the art of fighting with weapons, knives and my bare hands. The day will never come when I admit defeat”

-         Capt Anuj Nayyar, MVC

There are books and then there are books written about war heroes and gallantry awardees.  The Tiger of Drass is one such book authored by Meena Nayyar and Himmat Singh Shekawat. But mind you, this is no ordinary book and Meena Nayyar is no ordinary person. She’s the mother of Captain Anuj Nayyar, Mahavir Chakra, the main protagonist of this evocative book, which is a very personalised account of the life and times of the young war hero.

The Kargil War of 1999 was thrust upon India after a complacent military establishment and incompetent intelligence set up were caught napping with the enemy occupying strategically important heights in the Himalayas along the Srinagar- Leh highway in the Kargil District of Jammu and Kashmir. The onus of cleaning up the mess then rested upon the shoulders of motivated yet inexperienced young officers and soldiers like Capt Anuj Nayyar, Maj Vikram Batra, Capt Manoj Pandey to name a few. These lads from ordinary middle class families (mostly first generation military-men) punched way above their weight and at the peril of their lives did the impossible -- recapture all lost ground ensuring a resounding victory over the marauders. They fought with the odds of weather, terrain and altitude badly stacked against them, a feat never ever achieved before in the annals of warfare. This book, apart from a close up of Anuj’s heroic life also provides a good narrative of the conflict.

The paperback begins with a peep into Anuj’s birth, childhood, his bonding with his parents (his father Prof. Nayyar-fondly referred to as Poppin and mother fondly called Mani), only sibling Karan and fiancée Timmie and their role in making him who he was and shaping his future life. His idiosyncrasies and never say die attitude are also built up to give an idea to the readers about the leader being molded, right from his childhood and teens.

Anuj’s days in the National Defence Academy as well as the Indian Military Academy and his indomitable loyalty and spirit for his squadron and company are described through first-hand accounts of some of his batchmates, again highlighting the strength of character of the hero of this book and once more lending a personal touch to the story.

Thereafter, the narratives of his initial days in his  Paltan 17 JAT along with his escapades during his courses at the Infantry School Mhow, are sure to touch an emotional chord with every serving and veteran service officer who reads this book and provide lay civilians an intimate peek into the life of a young officer in the Army.

The story then cuts to May 1999 when the Kargil conflict breaks out and 17 JAT got into the thick of things. The conflict progresses with the Indian Army making steady progress through June 1999 against all odds, be it the capture of strategically important firebase like Whaleback, and Pt 4540 by 17 JAT and the victories at Tololing and Tiger Hill, at the cost of valiant officers such as Maj Adhikari and Capt Manoj Pandey.

In the midst of all this, young Anuj is given a war-time promotion to the rank of Captain on  June 23, 1999 and is raring to go and prove his mettle in the battle-field.

The climax of the story however, is the final battle of the Pimple Complex, where Anuj’s platoon fights a grisly battle for two nights on July 7-8, before securing the peak that was critical to the success of the larger operational goals. Amid heavy artillery and mortar fire, the platoon destroyed four enemy bunkers and killed tens of infiltrators in close combat. During the attack on the fourth bunker which was led by Anuj, the brave captain was hit by an enemy rocket-propelled grenade, which proved fatal for him but in the process he saved the lives of at least 15 men, who eventually finished the mission and hoisted the Indian flag on the peak of Pimple Complex at 7:18 AM on July 8, 1999.

Capt Anuj did a great service in leading his men to the last point of the Pimple Complex and delivering the key feature of Pimple 2. Re-occupying this feature rid Tiger Hill of threats from western flanks and also helped resume traffic on the NH1A from Ghumri to Zojila so as to restore important lines of communication. This action, in fact, secured the Drass sector which was very important for India’s eventual success in Operation Vijay and India’s victory in the Kargil Conflict, earning the valiant officer the sobriquet “The Tiger of Drass” which is also the title of this book.

The piquant yet tragic tale of valour does not end there and goes on to describe how his parents, sibling and fiancée coped with the loss of this young officer who had so much of zest for life and meant the world to them.

To finally summarise, the book is a brisk read and can be finished in a couple of sittings. Moreover, the emotive story concisely portrays the many facets of Anuj’s short but inspiring life- a great friend, a dutiful son, an brave leader who led from the front and a gem of a person at heart. The book is appended by many inspiring letters written home by Anuj as well as testimonials from some of his comrades at arms- which lends a very special touch to the whole experience of reading this account.

I am certain that “The Tiger of Drass” will surely enthuse readers and stir a warm sense of pride and patriotism.

(Colonel Arun Hariharan is a military veteran and an experienced security and business continuity professional)

About the Book:-

The Tiger of Drass: Capt Anuj Nayyar, 23, Kargil Hero

Meena Nayyar and Himmat Singh Shekawat

Harper Collins

179 pages; Rs 299

Check out for the book on Amazon

Published on April 28, 2022
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