Express News Service
NEW DELHI: Colonel Narendra Kumar, the man who scaled the Mt Everest for Indian Army, breathed his last in Delhi on Thursday. Kumar was commissioned from Indian Military Academy, Dehradun in the Kumaon Regiment in 1953.
Colonel Aman Anand, Spokesperson, Indian Army said, “He was mountaineer par excellence, he was the first Indian to climb Mt Nanda Devi. He climbed the Mt Everest in 1965, Mt Blanc( highest peak in the Alps)and later Mt Kangchenchanga( from the toughest NE spur). He climbed up all these peaks despite losing four toes due to frostbite in earlier expeditions.”
In 1981 Colonel Kumar played a stellar role as a member of the Antarctica Task Force. If it was not for his expeditions to Siachen Glacier and Saltoro Range as Commandant of the ‘High Altitude Warfare School’, Pakistan would have annexed Siachen Glacier.
Based on his recce reports the Indian Army launched ‘Op Meghdoot’ in April 1984 and captured the main passes and ridges along the Saltoro Range.
Colonel Anand added that the younger generation must know the exploits of Colonel Kumar in the field of mountaineering. He earned the nickname ‘BULL’ for relentlessly charging into everything he did.
Lt Gen Sanjay Kulkarni (retd) was long associated with Colonel Kumar. “My association with Colonel Kumar goes back to 1978 when I was training in the High Altitude Warfare School (HAWS) of the Army. We knew that he was already involved in a recce of the Siachen region. And the significance of his task was understood when I got posted to Siachen.”
Kulkarni was deployed in Siachen as Captain on 13 April when the Operation was named as ‘Meghdoot’. “He was the real bull in terms of his physical structure and his spirit to go ahead howsoever difficult the path is.” Says Kulkarni
It was the sharp eyes of Colonel Kumar which saved the area strategically important Siachen, Kulkarni said. “He was able to walk into the areas which were not marked on maps and he could recognize and report of violations from the Pakistan side at that time as the area was legitimately ours”.
Colonel Kumar was awarded the Padma Shri award and Arjun Award for his mountaineering feats. Army gave Kirti Chakra, second highest peacetime award, and PVSM and AVSM. He was also awarded the famous McGregor Medal awarded for feats of recce and surveillance by the Indian Mountaineering Foundation, apex mountaineering body of the country.