RANCHI: Retired Havaldar Ram Ratan Mahto, 56, is a Kargil war veteran with 29 kills to his name. Though his primary job as a driver was to ferry soldiers to and from the war zone, he turned into a hero one night by displaying presence of mind. Not only did he save the day, but also his unit from an enemy attack.
Recalling the Kargil war, Mahto, said he was alone at the Motor Garage with a Light Machine Gun during which he spotted the enemy moving towards his unit around 12.30 at night. “I thought that if they succeeded in reaching the unit, they may cause severe damage. I opened fire on them emptying all the three boxes of bullets. I managed to kill all 29 people in the troop,” he said.
Later that night, after confirming the identity of the deceased, Mahto was hailed as a hero. “The senior officers lifted me on their shoulders and started dancing,” he added.Mahto said that even though he averted enemy attacks 18 times during the Kargil War, he got injured in the 19th attack.
“On June 22, 1999, I was alone in the motor garage when I was injured during an air raid. Splinters struck my left leg and damaged my intestine. Somehow, I managed to reach out to my Army truck and drove it for 3 km and reached the field ambulance where they put me in a bunker due to heavy shelling from the enemy. After remaining there the entire night, I was taken to Meena Marg and then to Srinagar by helicopter,” he said.
“Later, when I opened my eyes, PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee and the then Army Chief Ved Prakash Malik were standing beside me,” said retired Havaldar. After he recovered, Mahto was again posted in Kargil along with his unit on request.
A family man
Mahto, who was posted at Bimbat in Drass Sector along with 1889 light regiment, lives with his family at Bhedikudar village of Simdega district in a ‘kaccha’ house built on a plot of land purchased by him while he was in service. Since 2016, he has been working as a private security guard in Gumla