This day (3rd November) the year when India finally won its freedom but also was partitioned into Pakistan, we saw a bloody battle, one of the firsts of many, between the units of Indian troops and Pakistani force tribal “lashkars”. The significance of this battle lies in the fact that the 4th Battalion, Kumaon Regiment of strength 50 men, was caught off guard while patrolling by a troop of 1000 men of the Pakistan army.
Major Somnath Sharma leading his D Company of 4 KUMAON, patrolled the vicinity of the Badgam village. Sharma’s company was soon surrounded by the Pakistani tribals and bombarded with mortar from three sides, carrying heavy casualties. They soon realized that holding their position is of utmost importance, as both the city of Srinagar and the airport would be vulnerable if it were lost. The Battalion though outnumbered seven to one and surviving heavy fire fought bravely, while the Major himself took vulnerable measures from running one post to another.
The last message of the Major to Brigade HQ received a few moments before he was killed was:
“The enemy is only 50 yards from us. We are hopelessly outnumbered. I will not withdraw one inch but fight to the last man last round.”Major Somnath Sharma (Param Vir Chakra recipient, posthumously)
The 50 men of 4 KUMAON company with their Major Somnath Sharma sacrificed their lives to stand their ground, “to the last man last round”. For his courage and sacrifice, Maj Sharma was posthumously awarded the Param Vir Chakra, the highest award for gallantry in Independent India.
The raiders of Pakistan suffered a casualty of 200 soldiers by the fierce resistance of Sharma’s company. They made no attempt to exploit the vulnerabilities that night and move to the airfield or to Srinagar city, as they misjudged the Indian readiness and prowess by the exemplary might of the 4th Battalion. Additional Indian troops were later placed at vulnerable posts and the war resulted in Indian strategic and tactical victory with failure of Pakistani forces to capture the Kashmir Valley.