Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 31
Col Narendra ‘Bull’ Kumar, the officer who surveyed Siachen Glacier and planted Indian flags atop key passes, died here on Thursday following a brief illness. He was 87.
Born in Rawalpindi, now in Pakistan, Col Kumar was commissioned into the Kumoan regiment. It was he who, following a secret expedition, had made a report on the strategic importance of Siachen which had prompted Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to okay Operation Meghdoot on April 13, 1984.
The Glacier was captured as Indian troops raced to hold the ridgeline beating Pakistan Army to the top. The 109 km actual ground position line (AGPL) that separates India and Pakistan on the glacier is the result of Col Kumar’s mountaineering expedition.
The Army had named the launch base of the expedition as ‘Kumar base’, a rare honour for a serving officer. Sometime in the mid 1970s Col Kumar was posted to High Altitude Warfare School in Gulmarg, when a German explorer showed him a US map of northern Kashmir that marked the Line of Control (LoC) showing Siachen in Pakistan.
Siachen Glacier lies to the north of Point NJ 9842. The 1949 Karachi agreement between India and Pakistan had a vague demarcation of territories north of point NJ9842. However, on sensing Pakistan’s intentions, India launched Operation Meghdoot and occupied the glacier. Earlier in 1965, he was part of the Capt MS Kohli-led expedition to Mount Everest.