July 26, 2009 2:03:30 am
I had received a mail forwarded through several channels titled Remembering Kargil asking me to light a candle in memory of those who died fighting for the motherland on this day. I will certainly light a candle,not only at the memorial,but also in my heart and home,for the heroes who died 10 years ago.
I had the opportunity of meeting a person from our armed forces who had actually taken part in that battle. For security purposes,I shall address him as S. Back then,anything in connection with Kargil was classified though the media has now given a lot of footage to Operation Vijay and much has been written on the subject.
S had described to me in detail the sacrifice of Major Vikram Batra he was witness to. S belonged to Maj. Batras battalion and regiment.
It was the night of July 09,99 . Maj. Batra repeatedly uttered the war cry of Durga Mata Ki Jai,which his men also kept chorusing after him. S said that he was near Maj. Batra when the Pakistanis lobbed grenades at them. S warned Batra but he carried on with the assault and jumped into one of the trenches,vacated by the enemy,where some of his men were taking shelter. He did this to ensure the safety of his men. While doing this,he was hit by a rocket-propelled shell from the enemy. Batra was killed instantaneously. He died a heros death trying to save his men.
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Maj. Batras death stunned the rest of the men in his battalion and in the process of following Batra,S was scalded and got blisters on his face and arms that he showed me.
S has given a graphic description of how our troops advanced. Their convoy was attacked in the night and suffered a number of casualties in the shelling.
He also mentioned names of other formations that took part in that gallant battle.
I dedicate this article to my late brother who once commanded this Battalion and to which S and Maj. Batra belonged. Maj. Batra had also served with my brother.
S was a little pensive at the end of our conversation and said Today it is Kargil,tomorrow it will be forgotten and along with it the exploits of Teevara Tera (his battalion).
That is exactly what has happened,I thought when I read the mail sent to me saying,No senior Government official has time to participate in the 10th anniversary of our victory over Pakistan. The armed forces are disappointed and the veterans feel let down.
After two months of blood and sweat,the Indian Armed Forces finally had glory at Kargil. The victory came at the cost the lives of hundreds of soldiers while over 7,000 were injured. Ten years down the line,the forces are feeling let down,ignored and neglected. This was a very sad and poignant moment for me.
Jai Operation Vijay
(Urmila Lal is a retired senior scientist of DRDO and was a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi and his family)
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