TEN YEARS have passed since the Indian Armed Forces fought one of the toughest wars against Pakistani intruders at Kargil, Drass and Batalik. July 26 is Vijay Divas – and commemorates this victory. It was 26 July 1999 when the last of the Pakistan Army intruders beat a retreat leaving their fallen compatriots in uniform on Indian soil unhonoured, unwept, unsung and unburied.
I have followed this war very closely through newspaper and television. This was the first war in my generation and even the first televised war. This war has left its mark on the current generation. The soldiers who died while defending the honour of the country were mostly in their early 20s. They climbed up the steepest cliffs in the middle of enemy fire to hoist the Indian flag. They conquered what was considered impossible. Even then, the Army Chief, General VP Malik said,”In Kargil, nobody ever told me this can’t be done, every soldier was full of high spirits. It was the spirit of the Indian soldier on the battlefield, which steeled the leadership. And therein a famous victory was forced.”
There will be many for whom the memory of this war must have diluted. But this is the time to pay tributes, homage and gratitude to those who chose to walk on the road to death for us citizens. You just cannot let them fade from your memory. They are figures of inspiration and motivation. They are figures of grit and determination. They are the figures to guide us through difficult times and make our nation proud. These figures must be idolized.
These war heroes have motivated thousand of youth of my generation to join the forces and take charge of the security of our nation. There is no higher honour than serving the nation. The Indian Armed Forces give you that feeling of pride and dignity. In today’s time, the biggest Dharma is “Rashtra Dharma”. The stories of these heroes should be told over and over again. This will motivate even more men to serve the nation. Currently, Indian Armed Forces is short of thousands of officers. It is very important for young men of this generation to sacrifice their personal comforts to join the forces.
The government of India and the ministry of defense should also focus on this shortage, else the situation can get out of control. If the military is weak, all of us will have to share the blame. These are tough times and call for tough men to stand up.
As a grateful citizen of this nation, I salute all our nation’s warriors.
I can think of a couple of lines at this time in praise of our warriors:
How else can a man die better
Than facing fearful odds
For the ashes of his fathers
And the temples of his god.
THE APATHY and shamelessness of our politicians is yet again highlighted by the comments made by Rashid Alvi, a Congress member of Parliament. In an interview to correspondent of Headlines Today, he said “Kargil isn’t a thing to be celebrated. The war was fought within our territory. We didn’t even come to know when the Pakistani army crossed over and built bunkers inside our territory. It’s only the NDA, which may celebrate.”Union Coal Minister, Sri Prakash Jaiswal asked, “When is Vijay Divas celebrated?” to the same channel.
Later, live on the channel, he was remorseless even when accused; by father of Kargil martyr Vijayant Thapar, of politicising the war.
I must tell this fellow that Kargil was due to the failure of intelligence and other reasons. The enemy occupied the nation’s territory and it was imperative to dislodge the enemy. The battle, which was fought saw the supreme sacrifice made by our soldiers. Let us not politicise the war for personal gains. You must acknowledge the bravery, commitment and patriotism of the soldiers.
This so-called MP must understand that every day, there are so many patriots dying to save the nation. Let’s not use the soldier of this country as a punching bag. Every year, since Kargil at least 400 security personnel have died in action across India. We are fighting a war within the territory and on borders. Is their martyrdom less significant?
It might be for you, Rashid Alvi but not for majority of population in India. You cannot hurt the sentiments of a billion people. Please refrain from politicising the issue. Alvi, while putting a question to Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit, last year referred to Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) as ”Azad Kashmir,” little knowing that India’s policy is to call it PoK. This is what he knows about India and her geography.
The MP’s like him are a danger for this nation.
It is a humble request to Alvi that he must render apoplogy to this nation and realise his mistake.
We need to learn to honour our brave soldiers.
It’s that time of the year again.
Every July since the year 2000, the Indian media and the Army in that order, celebrates the eviction of Pakistani intruders from the forbidding heights of Drass and Batalik (and not Kargil, as we all in the media keep referring to for some completely unfathomable reason).
The Army, of course, appropriately remembers its martyrs — the young and not so young officers and several hundred jawans — who sacrificed their lives in recapturing a piece of real estate that the Pakistanis had encroached upon. It was a heroic battle against heavy odds. After that conflict, Vikram Batra, Anuj Nayyar, Manjo Pandey, to cite just three martyrs, became household names.
This year, on the 10th anniversary, the Army has planned a larger celebration and rightfully so.
We in the media have also gone into an overdrive to commemorate the occasion.
After all, Kargil was this generation’s first war. It was also India’s first televised war. We made citizens feel that they were part of the war by beaming images right into their bedrooms.
In many ways, Kargil (I actually hate using the word, but Drass or Batalik do not have the same resonance in the people’s mind as Kargil has) is also a landmark in the military-media relationship in India.
Till 1999 the Army establishment generally looked upon the media as a nuisance. Post-Kargil, the armed forces have woken up to the media’s potential as, what the military fondly calls a force-multiplier. An uneasy relationship till then gave way to greater awareness about one another facilitating meaningful interaction.
This year in fact the Army has made special efforts to invite all those who had reported the conflict from the area that summer. This, the Army says, is its tribute to media’s contribution in the Kargil conflict.
I, like many others, was in the sector in 1999, reporting the events for Outlook magazine. Every year since 2000, I too have written or spoken about the experience in the Kargil-Drass-Mushkoh-Batalik sector.
I am also hoping to be at the Drass memorial on 25th and 26th July later this month to meet up with friends who made Kargil (that word again!) such a memorable experience in our life a decade ago.
And yet, ever since I went there last week to report on what has changed and what has not in the decade since the war, a sense of unease has gripped me. At first I thought it was plain tiredness. After all, one is older by a decade and the body doesn’t take the rigours of travelling in the high mountains as easily as it did 10 years ago.
But deep down, I knew there was something more to my disquiet than just creaking old bones.
Then suddenly it hit me this morning: Are we in the media guilty of over hyping Kargil and its martyrs at the cost of totally ignoring the others? To be honest, the answer is yes.
By admitting this, I am in no way taking away the sacrifice and heroism of our soldiers during the 1999 conflict. Or trying to belittle the tough conditions under which we in the media operated and reported the conflict.
But I will also be less than honest if I don’t admit that collectively we in the media are equally culpable in ignoring or downplaying the unending internal battles fought by the Army as well as other security forces across India.
How many of us for instances, know the names of Col. Vasanth or Subedar Chunni Lal? Or for that matter Constable Tukaram Ombale? How many of us remember the faces of the unnamed police and CRPF constables who die by the dozens in the battlefields of Chhattisgarh and Orissa? Or for that matter army jawans who continue to sacrifice their lives in counter-insurgency skirmishes in India’s north-east?
In Kargil, nearly 500 people lost their lives.
Every year since then at least 400 security personnel have died in action across India.
Is their martyrdom less significant? Don’t their families deserve similar adulation? They certainly do but I am afraid even we in the media tend to report on these incidents for a day or two and move on to our next story.
In the process, we have ignored the interminable internal security threats that India faces, be it in Kashmir, the north-east or in the heartland from the Maoists. And underplayed the sacrifices made by the gallant soldiers who fight them.
In less than a fortnight, when the nation pays a collective tribute to the Kargil martyrs, all of us can perhaps introspect and review our attitude towards other, lesser known but equally valiant soldiers who fight on without expecting anything in return.
As I look ahead, post the Kargil anniversary, it is perhaps time for me to do away with my Kargil obsession and refocus on the current and future battles.
Source: NDTV Written by Niting Gokhale