Most Westerners don’t think of the Republic of India as being home to hardcore, badass motherfucking commandos who climb up sheer cliff faces, brave automatic weapons fire, beat the crap out of AK47-toting insurgents in hand-to-hand combat, and do all manner of insane awesome Snake Eyes-style shit while wailing on air guitar and bench-pressing orphan children. Those people couldn’t be more wrong if they incorrectly bubbled their names in on the SATs, because it turns out that India produces some balls-out motherfuckers who exert more insane kung fu badassery than an anthology of 1970s Shaw Brothers films being shown at the Shaolin Temple in the middle of an Ultimate Fighting tournament between ninjas and professional wrestlers. A prime example of this is a dude named Yogender Singh Yadav – a man who is more than likely one of the biggest badasses you’ve never heard of.
In case you’ve had your head jammed inside a set of hand-crafted wood-paneled cabinetry for the past seven centuries or so, India and Pakistan fucking hate each other with the searing fire of a million ruptured anti-matter containment chambers. They’re like the Kid Rock and Tommy Lee of the international community, always talking smack or getting in fights at paparazzi-attended awards ceremonies and barbecue cookouts, and in this metaphor the object of their affection - Pamela Anderson Hyphen Lee - is a region known as Kashmir. For those of you who get the extent of your international news by saying “wassup” the guy behind that counter at 7-11, Kashmir is more than just a fucking kickass Led Zeppelin song that rocks the balls off of children and adults alike and then sends the disembodied balls careening into a Black Hole of Awesome – it’s a mountainous region situated between India and Pakistan that's filled with people who refer to themselves only as "Kashmiri", mainly because they don't fucking know which country they actually live in. The place is so hotly contested, that political maps of the area usually look more like Venn Diagrams than Pie Charts, and these two nations have been bashing each other’s skulls in over the territory for centuries now. They’ve even threatened goddamned thermonuclear war over this area, which kind of seems like overkill as far as I'm concerned.
Anyways, shit boiled over in 1999 when Kashmiri and Pakistani rebels infiltrated Indian military lines on the border and captured several abandoned fortresses and bunkers. All of a sudden, the Indian Army found itself completely surrounded and in an incredibly precarious position – they had to re-take those forts at all costs. Troops were mobilized, and the Kargil War was rocking like an Ecstasy-filled rave, complete with truncheon-wielding cops and barfing teenagers. Yogender Singh Yadav was part of a Commando platoon attached to the Indian 18th Grenadiers, an elite special forces unit that had been ordered to attack strategic Pakistani fortifications in a region known as Tiger Hill on the evening of 3 July 1999. The mission was to climb a sheer, snow-covered cliff face at 18,000 feet, set up a rope system so troops could ascend the mountain, and eliminate any resistance in the area. Now when I say “Tiger Hill”, the first thing that probably comes to mind is a gentle, rolling, grassy slope with a bunch of preteen kids chasing fireflies and hot Indian babes frolicking amongst sunflowers in wet saris, but this motherfucker is actually more along the lines of Annapurna being butt-humped by Everest:
Ok, that’s actually a picture of Kanchenjunga, the 3rd highest mountain in the world, but the shot was taken from the peak of Tiger Hill, so you can sort of get the idea – this motherfucker is situated on the type of terrain that human beings aren’t supposed to be able to traverse. The sort of place that forges legends like Beck Weathers and Joe Simpson, and the sort of place that takes regular people and turns them into giant frozen meatsicles lost forever under a pile of snow and rock.
Now Yadav had been trained in mountain climbing and alpine warfare, so on this dark, freezing night he volunteered to run point and be the first man up the cliff face. His job was to affix a rope system into the ice so that the men climbing behind him could walk/climb up the wall like Batman and not have to carry around ice axes and kill themselves trying to use all that crazy mountaineering bullshit. Once the platoon reached the top of the cliff, they would then assault three separate fortified Pakistani bunkers, hopefully using the element of surprise to overwhelm the defenders. At roughly 11pm, in whipping winds and freezing cold, Yogender Singh Yadav whipped out his climbing gear and set out on an incredibly dangerous mission. After several minutes of tough climbing, Yadav was already halfway up the treacherous ice wall. His platoon commander and several of his comrades were close behind him, waiting for Yadav to fix the ropes so they could complete their dangerous mission, when all of a sudden the Commandos heard a distinct whistling sound coming from the mountainside only a few meters from their position – RPG fire. Seconds later, a rocket-propelled grenade smashed into the mountain, followed by the thumping sound of heavy machinegun fire ripping through the rock and ice. Yadav’s platoon commander and several Indian soldiers were shot or fell and plummeted to their deaths below. His entire squad was eliminated in seconds. Yadav himself took three bullets – two in the shoulder and one in the fucking groin, which I bet hurt like a motherfucker. However, somehow this just made him even more pissed, and he started climbing like fucking Nagano on Mount Midoriyama, racing up the last 60 feet of cliff face, willing his body to pull him up the ledge. Once he hoisted himself onto terra firma, he proceeded to charge the bunker, which was laying down a heavy barrage of rocket and large-caliber machinegun fire in his direction. Somehow, Yadav reached the enemy position, and chucked a grenade in, killing everyone inside and silencing the gunfire. At this point, a SECOND fucking pillbox opened up on the rest of the Indian soldiers now struggling to reach the top of the mountain. Yadav cracked his knuckles, jammed a new clip into his rifle, and sprinted towards the gun emplacement. He ran up, leaped into the Pakistani position, and came face-to-face with a four-man machinegun team.
Yadav took one look at these fuckers and busted out some serious kung fu action, throwing his ice ax into one guy’s head, stabbing another dude in the throat, and finishing off the last two in serious Bruce Lee-style hand-to-hand combat. He was like fucking Steven Segal jacking up motherfuckers who were unaware that this land belonged to the Eskimos. In the fighting, Yadav suffered severe injuries, including a broken arm that he probably got from punching a guy in the fucking face with enough force to crack a cinderblock. When the rest of the assault team finally reached him and prepared to evacuate his wounded ass to safety, Yadav simply whipped off his belt and used it to fashion a makeshift sling for his useless arm, grabbed his pistol in his off-hand, and probably said something along the lines of, “there’s still another bunker, you motherfuckers.” The platoon was so pumped up by this display of bravery and hardcore badassitude that they charged the third Pakistani position, guns blazing. The enemy hardpoint fell within minutes.
For his bravery on Tiger Hill, the Indian Army posthumously awarded the Param Vir Chakra (the highest award for bravery) to Yogender Singh Yadav. The problem is that Yadav actually lived through the battle. He received notification of his “posthumous” award from his hospital bed, as he was recovering from a broken arm, a broken leg, and somewhere between five and fifteen gunshot wounds to various parts of his body. Apparently, nobody that heard the story believed that he could have possibly survived, but nobody banked on the fact that he was the most hardcore motherfucker around.
Indian Army Site
Legacies of Kargil