A DECADE ago, Indian Armed Forces fought one of the toughest battles in Kargil against Pakistani soldiers and terrorists. The enemy was uprooted and it became an embarrassment for the enemy who declined to accept the bodies of its nationals.
How many of you remember the name Saurabh Kalia today? If you don’t, then for your reference, he was one of the first casualties in the Kargil war. Saurabh Kalia of 4 Jat Regiment, was the first army officer to report incursion by the Pakistani army on Indian soil had along with five soldiers – Sepoys Arjun Ram, Bhanwar Lal Bagaria, Bhika Ram, Moola Ram and Naresh Singh had gone for a routine patrol of the Bajrang Post in the Kaksar sector when they were taken captive by the Pakistani troops on May 15, 1999.
They were brutally tortured for weeks before their mutilated bodies were handed over to Indian authorities on June 9, 1999. Saurabh Kalia was posted in Kargil as his first posting after passing out from the Indian Military Academy and did not even live long enough to receive his first pay packet as an officer. The supreme sacrifice made by Saurabh and his team has faded away from our memory.
Then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee assured the nation that he will take the issue of barbaric treatment of the Prisoners of War (POWs) by Pakistan on international stage. But ten years down the line, this has ended as just another promise made by our government.
NK Kalia, father of Captain Kalia said in an interview, “Of course, his supreme sacrifice has made us proud but what has exhausted, disappointed and dejected us is that the nation, for which he has sacrificed his life least bothered to highlight the plight of war crimes at the international fora.” The family is running from one office to another to ensure that no other POW meets the same fate as the six heroes did. But the history of Indian government has been such that they forget these heroes as soon as they are in a safe zone. They did it after 1971 war and repeated it in 1999. “Is this the way the government treats its heroes?” If the same thing would have happened in America and Israel, culprits would have been brought to justice.
But this is India. Like always, we remember Armed Forces and other Security Agencies when we are in trouble but have rarely stood up for our soldiers. A soldier performs his duty and never expects to get recognition for the same. But as a grateful citizen, we must stand up for him. Don’t forget that we are sleeping happily with our family because few men are awake at the borders, toiling and battling for us. Hope that government will take some action and do something for POW at international level.