Colonel Narendra' Bull' Kumar (Retired), whose unforgettable contribution led to India securing the Siachen glacier for India, passed away at 87, on the last day of the year 2020, on Thursday, December 31.
Kumar was suffering from several age-related ailments and was admitted at Army Research and Referral (R&R) in Delhi. He was cremated today at the Army's Brar Square.
Kumar was born in Rawalpindi (now in Pakistan) in 1933.
In 1977, a German national had shown Kumar an American map of north Kashmir, in which the Line of Control (LoC) was shown much further to the east. The map showed a large portion of north Kashmir, including Siachen Glacier, towards Pakistan.
He brought it to the notice of the army headquarters, sensing something was out of order. The Army later sanctioned an expedition to the glacier for a reality check.
Around the same time, the Indian intelligence agencies informed about Pakistan purchasing high-altitude clothing in bulk from foreign markets.
Understanding the significance, the Army launched Operation Meghdoot, under which troops from 4 Kumaon regiment led by Capt Sanjay Kulkarni were dropped from a helicopter, at Bilafond La Pass, on the Siachen Glacier on April 13, 1984.
Kumar's observations and evidence collected during his multiple visits to the glacier helped India conduct the high-altitude operation to pre-empt Pakistan from occupying Siachen.
Siachin Glacier is one of India's most important pieces of land between Pakistan to the west and China to the east.
In 1978, Kumar had scaled the world's third-highest mountain peak Kanchenjunga from its northeast spur, and led expeditions to nine other Himalayan peaks above the altitude of 24,000 feet.
"It was his inadvertent friendship with a German and his bull-like approach that saved the Siachen for us," Lt Gen. Sanjay Kulkarni (Retd), the first officer to have landed with his troops on the glacier on 13 April 1984, told ThePrint.
In 1965, Kumar was awarded Padma Shri. The Army honoured him with the Param Vishisht Seva Medal (PVSM) distinction in all three services. He was also awarded Kirti Chakra and Ati Vishisht Seva Medal. The Siachen Battalion HQ at the glacier base camp has been named 'Kumar base' in his honour.