It may well be the first war memorial of its kind, complete with an action scene from the Kargil war, with Indian soldiers hoisting the Tricolour atop Tiger Hill, the entire tableau in the trademark style of Nek Chand, the creator of Chandigarh famous Rock Garden.
Being constructed to honour Kargil martyr Captain Saurabh Kalia who was captured by the Pakistani side which only returned his mutilated body, the tableau is coming up at Saurabh Van Vihar at Palampur in Himachal Pradesh.
The tableau is being prepared by Anuj Saini, son of Nek Chand who died in 2015. It will consist of 63 figures depicting Armymen and infiltrators made with concrete and waste ceramic tiles. The intruders wear green and black kurtas while soldiers are shown wearing uniform.
“There is a bust of Captain Saurabh Kalia first and after that the war scene begins. We have tried to show all the sequences as to how Armymen are running towards the Tiger Hill and then are attacked by the infiltrators. While some Armymen are shown crawling, some are attacking the intruders from behind the rocks,”says Anuj Saini. The sculptures are about five to six feet tall.
“The only concept behind the entire project was to depict what our Army goes through. We worked day and night for about 12 months on the project,” Saini says. It was Nek Chand who had been invited by the Himachal government to develop the memorial at the Saurabh Van. Nek Chand had visited the site with his son Anuj Saini in 2012-13. After Nek Chand’s death in 2015, his son Anuj Saini committed himself to the project.
BJP MP from Palampur Shanta Kumar told The Indian Express they had spent Rs 40 lakh from the MPLAD fund on the memorial which would be inaugurated soon. “ Very recently, the Central government has also given Rs 2 crore more for the upkeep of the Saurabh Van Vihar. This park has natural rocks and we wanted something novel in the war memorial. It has been a long-pending dream,” Kumar told The Indian Express.
During the 1999 Kargil War, Captain Saurabh Kalia and five other soldiers – Sepoys Arjun Ram, Bhanwar Lal Bagaria, Bhika Ram, Moola Ram and Naresh Singh – were captured alive on 15 May, 1999, by the Pakistani troops when they had gone out for patrol duty in Kaskar area of Kargil.