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Monday, September 21, 2020

When I got mail from the heights of Kargil

The present uncertainty on the border in Eastern Ladakh takes me back to the Kargil War in 1999.

Updated: September 13, 2020 3:42:45 pm
Receiving these letters was so heartening and such a heart-warming experience. (File photo)

Written by Dr Ranjana Malik

All members of Army Wives Welfare Association (AWWA) were involved in innumerable activities to support the war effort. I had also written letters to all Commanding Officers and Subedar Majors of all units involved at the battle front conveying our best wishes to them.

One day in the month of July, we decided to send packets of mithai to the officers and soldiers at the front. We went to Kalewa Sweet Shop on Bangla Sahib Road in New Delhi, and chose nourishing, non-perishable items which could be sent. A very willing band of volunteers got these packets packed and I requested the ladies to add a personal, handwritten note with each packet telling the troops how we are thinking about them. Almost 5000 packets were sent through the Air Force planes each week. After these were delivered, we started receiving some replies from our soldiers and young officers. The soldiers had no idea where these sweets came from or what AWWA was.

I have some of these replies which reached me after they were redirected to me by Kalewa Sweet Shop.

Maj Samir Rawat from Ladakh Scouts expressed his gratitude and appreciation for the sweets which had been sent to troops at the forward post. He said “It is a big morale booster knowing that we have your good wishes with us.”

Lt MPS Maurya of 12 MAHAR addressed his letter of thanks to Ms KALEWA, 109, Bangla Sahib Road, New Delhi for “Keeping up the morale of the fighting troops.”

Capt. Arjun Sardana of 141 Field Regiment said “These little acts of kindness mean a lot to the soldiers sitting at isolated posts. Your expression of genuine love and concern for the soldiers has moved us and we cherish these things as priceless treasures.” He wrote from Bajrang Post after it had been recaptured. Many young soldiers added their signatures to this letter.

An interesting and heart-warming letter came from Commando Rajesh Bhaduria, 21 PARA (SF). He addressed his letter to ‘Respected AWWA Manager’ and wrote that “Kargil ki chottiyan charte,charte thak gaye thhe,jab yeh mithai ka gift mila. Lekin jab mithai khai toh josh ki ek umang jag gayi, phir hamne barfili chottiyan chari aur apne kaam mein vijay payee. Hum bahut abhari hain ki hame yaad karne wale koi hain. Aap iss tarha yaad karte rahenge toh hamare saamne Pakistan to kya cheez hai. Sabhi karamchariyon ko hamri taraf se pranam. Aap patr ka answer sheeghra dein. Aap ke patra ki intezaar mein.”

Another letter came from Sepoy Sunil Sharma, 6 PARA. He wrote to Bangla Sahib Road and addressed it to ‘My Dear AWWA, Aap ke priya saathion ko Sainik bhai ka pranam .Ham sabhi sainik bhaiyon koaapki bheji huyi AWWA ki mithai mili jise kha ke kaafi josh aata hai. Aap isi prakar mithai bhejte rahe toh, ham Lahore to kya Islambad pahaunch jaayenge. Aap log nidar hokar raho, ham aapki ve apne desh ki raksha karenge. Jabtak ham LC line cross nahin karte, tabtak ham chain nahin le paayenge. Ham unko aisi seekh sikhayenge ki inhe yaad aayegi ki India aur Indian Army kya cheez hai.”

Another letter came from Commando Ravinder Singh, 21 PARA (SF). This was addressed to President AWWA. He wrote “Samachar yeh hai ki 15 July ki raat ko ham kuch saathion ke saath, Bharat Mataki raksha ke liye Ladakh ki sabse unchi pahari par bina kisi dar ke chal rahe thhe, aur hamare dushman aadmiyon ki nafri 300 se adhik thhi. Jaise hi unki nazar hamare par pari toh un rakshashon ne goli ki bochhar kardi jisme hamara ek saathi shaheed ho gaya. 17 July ko subah hamare pass aap sabhi ka bheja hua pyar ayaa, toh hamare dil mein phir se ek nayi tarang paida huyi .. .yeh hamne nahi, balki aap sabhi ke sahyog se Vijay hui. ..Mere sabhi sathyon ki ore se baron ko namaskar aur chote sathion ko pyar. Aapke pyare bachon ka namaskar. Jai Jawan. Mera Bharat mahan.”

Receiving these letters was so heartening and such a heart-warming experience. More than anything it conveyed the josh, the enthusiasm, the patriotic fervour and the high morale of these young men facing the enemy at such high altitudes. One really marvels at their spirit.

I then wrote back to all these soldiers who had written to us, on my writing pad this time and in Hindi. I explained that AWWA stands for Army Wives Welfare Association or Sainik Pariwaar Kalyan Sanstha and that we are conveying our best wishes to them for success in their mission. These letters were signed by me.

One young soldier wrote back. He said, “Aapki bheji huyi chitthi ab Unit ke notice Board par laga di gayi hai. Ab aap mere naam ek alag se patr likhen!”

(The writer, an army doctor is former president of AWWA)

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