Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 31
Indian Army’s explorer and surveyor of the Siachen Glacier, Col Narendra “Bull” Kumar (retd), died following a brief illness in New Delhi on Thursday. He was 87 years of age and one of the most respected mountaineers, who was awarded the Kirti Chakra, the second highest peace time gallantry award.
It was in 1981 that Col Kumar surveyed each mountain pass atop the glacier and hoisted Indian flags. Three years after his report, the Indian Army captured the strategic icy frontier. It was he who, following a secret expedition, had made a report on strategic importance of Siachen which had prompted then 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.
Born in Rawalpindi, now in Pakistan, Col Kumar was commissioned into the Kumoan regiment. The Army had named the launch base of the expedition as “Kumar base”, a rare honour for serving officer. The base is still called “Kumar”.