The Siachen Saviour, Narender "Bull" Kumar
The Siachen Saviour, Narender "Bull" Kumar

On February 27, Lieutenant General Ajai Kumar Singh, the General Officer Commanding Trishakti Corps dedicated a Multi Utility Hall in the memory of one of the most accomplished veterans, Late Colonel Narender ‘Bull’ Kumar, at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Darjeeling.

Colonel Narender ‘Bull Kumar’, who breathed his last on December 31, 2020, was a superhero in his own right. Nicknamed ‘Bull Kumar’ for his attitude to take every challenge head-on, Col Kumar received numerous distinguished, gallantry, and civil awards such as Param Vishisht Seva Medal, Kirti Chakra, Ati Vishisht Seva Medal, Padma Shri, Arjuna Award, and the McGregor medal.

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He carried out multiple expeditions in the Siachen glacier area in the late 1970s and early 1980s. His reconnaissance expedition to Siachen Glacier led the Indian Army to carry the mission to occupy the Siachen heights under Operation Meghdoot in 1984. For this exemplary act, Colonel Kumar came to be known as ‘Siachen Saviour’.

Operation Meghdoot, was in support of the Indian Army and paramilitary forces in Northern Ladakh, to secure control of the heights predominating the Siachen glacier, also referred to as the world’s third pole and potentially a dangerous flashpoint on the disputed Northern borders. IAF Il-76s, An 12s, and An 32s transported stores and troops, airdropped supplies to high altitude airfields while Mi-17s, Mi-8s, Chetaks, and Cheetahs ferried men and material to dizzy heights far above the limits set by the helicopter manufacturers.

In fighting for this “roof-of-the world” since April 1984, the IAF’s incredible performance at the extremes of temperature and altitude remains a continuing saga of fortitude and skill. But few people know that Siachen operations actually started way back in 1978.

The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute was special to him since he was not only a student, he also headed the institution from 1966 to 1970. He trained and coached many budding and experienced mountaineers. Himalayan Mountaineering Institute has aptly named the new Multi Utility Hall (MUH) as ‘Bull Bhawan’ to immortalize the great veteran mountaineer.

The event culminated with flagging in of the ‘Bharat Gaurav Radhanath Sikdar Motor Bike Rally’ from Kolkata to Darjeeling to spread awareness about Indian legendary mountaineers and achievers in various other fields.

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