Days before he retires, Army Chief General Bikram Singh visited the Kargil war memorial to commemorate the martyrdom of soldiers killed in 1999 war with Pakistan. And in the foothills of Tololing, the first battlefield from where India pushed back Pakistani soldiers during the war, the Army chief assured that the nation is in safe hands.
Union Defence Minister Arun Jaitley along with the three service chiefs will pay tribute to the martyrs of Operation Vijay on the occasion of Kargil Vijay Diwas on Saturday.
“I want to assure you, as the Chief of Army Staff, that your Army is stationed at borders. They have the capability to protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country,” Gen Singh said. “Your Army is fully geared to take on the challenges.”
The chief, who is retiring on July 31, termed his visit to Kargil war memorial as his “goodbye” visit. “I thought there could not have been a better way to say goodbye to the profession than coming here and laying the wreath,” he said. “I thought it would be wise to be here today, to meet you all, to thank you all and to meet the veterans and veer naris (brave ladies).”
Gen Singh said the lives of soldiers have improved and praised the government for its efforts. “It (the lives of soldiers) has improved by leaps and bounds in a very distinct manner and whether it is the aspirations regarding his security, esteem, they are being addressed by the government,” Gen Singh said. “Let me assure you that the present government is committed to ensure that the aspirations of all the soldiers are met.”
The General met soldiers, veterans and the relatives of those who died in the war. But the centres of attraction were Subedar Yogendra Singh Yadav and Naik Subedar Sanjay Kumar — the two soldiers who survived the war and have been awarded Param Veer Chakra.
“It was my good luck that I had an opportunity to fight in my own land,” Sanjay Kumar told The Indian Express. Then a rifleman, Kumar first fought the Pakistani soldiers at point 5140 of Tololing and then was among the 10 soldiers who captured the last post at Point 4875 of Mushkoh valley. He was critically injured when he was hit in the back and leg.