Stand Up for Our Soldiers

VICTORY IN Kargil was certainly a defining moment in the history of Independent India. It was the outcome of supreme sacrifice by the soldiers of this country, displaying valour with dignity. Kargil was not an easy win. The terrain was tough and the enemy was perched comfortably on high mountain peaks. The task was to regain the occupied peaks. The Kargil victory was an extraordinary achievement for the Indian Armed forces as they conducted the war without violating any international norms. July 26 is celebrated as Vijay Divas, to mark the victory in Kargil. The young officers and soldiers were primarily responsible for India’s victory in Kargil. As a grateful citizen of this nation I pay my homage and salute those brave soldiers who “gave their today for our tomorrow.”
Kargil WarBut nine year on I feel that we as a nation are callous towards our soldiers. A soldier lays down his life to protect the integrity of the nation, which is his duty. The duty to live up to the trust of billions of people, duty to save the motherland from enemy, duty to keep the integrity of the country intact. A soldier fulfills all his duties but can the same be applied to Ministry of Defence (MoD) or for that matter to our bureaucrats and politicians. They earned money on the bodies of the martyrs. They even neglected the intelligence failure. Like the other wars Kargil was also converted to genuine victory. India declared ceasefire when Army was ready for the final assault. Nehru’s mistake in calling a ceasefire too early and taking the issue of Kashmir to the United Nations for resolution are fairly well-chronicled, as a starting point for the modern-day Kashmir issue. Under pressure from Mountbatten and personally committed to peace and non-violence, Nehru opted for a civilised resolution to the conflict. The 1965 war with Pakistan did not end in a decisive victory for any one side. When Pakistan captured the Akhnoor and Chicken’s Neck in Kashmir, Shastri’s aggressive reaction of opening war along the entire western front with Pakistan had resulted in the Indian Army making substantial inroads into Pakistan territory and famously coming within striking distance of Lahore. Shastri, for reasons still not quite clear, decided to play a Prithviraj Chauhan to Ayub Khan’s Mohammed Ghouri. He agreed to withdraw the Indian Army from all captured territories, including some strategic territories in Kashmir. 1971 was probably the best opportunity that India had to resolve the Kashmir issue on terms favourable to it. India had come out of the war not only a decisive but also a magnanimous victor. The ceasefire Indira Gandhi unilaterally declared, against the advice of her armed forces commanders, was driven by realpolitik and economic reasons.
We as a citizen join hands and come forward to extend our support to our brave soldiers. But only when there is a war. We forget them during peace time. Why? Why can’t a nation salute its soldiers when he is alive, not just when he is dead?
Few months ago after the recommendations of Sixth Pay Commission, former servicemen staged protest against the recommendation. They said that the Sixth Pay Commission hasn’t met the expectations of the defence personnels. Minister of State for Defence M Pallam Raju voiced displeasure over the protests by the ex-servicemen, saying it was not dignified on their part. I agree with Raju because India is perhaps the only nation where the politicians are not interested in looking into the grievances of the services. The government must realise that they have taken such a step because their demands are very genuine and they have protested as the last resort. If government hopes to solve the trouble with the laid-back attitude then it is trying to fool itself. A nation is as strong as its armed forces. The words like non-violence and world peace are used these days but one must understand that on the international stage you are identified by your defence forces. Unfortunately, government hasn’t woken from slumber. In India, soldiers are treated shabbily, their prestige is often mocked at and their fate is decided by the IAS babus who have earned notoriety for reasons other than providing a clean administration and efficient governance. Hence joining the forces is no longer a matter of pride and preference, consider the number of vacancies the forces have now. When the ugly politicians look down on patriotism and honour of the soldier, we see heroes laid to rest unsung and soldiers committing suicide.
The defence forces are facing shortage of thousands of officers which has been accentuated by the attrition. This year National Defence Academy (NDA), which has the intake of 300 could get only 192 cadets while Indian Military Academy (IMA) got 86 out of 250 intake capacity. The signs are really disappointing and the government must not take it lightly. After independence, Jawaharlal Nehru neglected the army for years and thus China was able to attack India without any hesitation. He himself later admitted this.
The Indian public and press remain apathetic on defence issues as well. Kargil war was duly covered by media. But when the war was over none of the media houses took the issues of unceremonious treatment meted to the families of martyrs. We forgot that our soldiers are still guarding the frontiers. We as a nation never try to understand the sacrifices, problems and demands of the forces. The problems of the forces is not a priority for our politicians. There has been no solution till date concerning to the Sixth Pay Commission report. It may be seen that initially, an IAS officer and defence service officer start off on an equal footing so far their salary is concerned. But after a year or two, an IAS officer is promoted to the post of under secretary which is equivalent to the rank of a Major or equivalent ranks in other wings of defence forces, where as, the officers in defence services attain the rank of a Major after seven years. As such, a wide gap is created in the salary of an under secretary and an officer of the rank of Major and equivalent ranks in the defence forces.

Vijay Divas: Tribute to Kargil War Heroes

Victory in Kargil is certainly a defining moment in the history of Independent India. It was the outcome of supreme sacrifice by the soldiers of this country, displaying valor with dignity. Kargil was not an easy win. The terrain was tough and the enemy was perched comfortably on high mountain peaks. The task was to regain the occupied peaks. The Kargil victory was a tarvel for the Indian Armed forces as they conducted the war without violating any international norms.

In memory of Vijay Divas,26th July, Let us bow our heads to the great heroes of India who laid down their lives so that we are safe today. FOR THEIR SAKES AND OURS LET US PLEDGE TO GIVE INDIA OUR VERY BEST. EACH TIME AND EVERY TIME.

Lt Saurabh Kalia

Lt Saurabh Kalia was the first martyr in Kargil War. On May 15, 1999, after a continuous cross fire with Pakistan armed forces from across the LoC, he and his troops ran out of ammunition. It is also believed that their signal instrument was out of order, or not working in those conditions. They were finally encircled by a platoon of Pakistan rangers and captured alive before any Indian reinforcement could reach for their help. No trace of this entire patrol was left and Skardu Radio of Pakistan reported that Lt. Saurabh Kalia and five of his men were captured alive.

They were in their captivity for over twenty-two (May 15, 1999 – June 7, 1999) days and subjected to unprecedented brutal torture as evident from their bodies handed over by Pakistan Army on June 9, 1999. The postmortem revealed that the Pakistan army had indulged in the most heinous acts; of burning their bodies with cigarettes, piercing ear-drums with hot rods, puncturing eyes before removing them, breaking most of the teeth and bones, chopping off various limbs and private organs of these soldiers besides inflicting all sorts of physical and mental tortures before shooting them dead, as evidenced by the bullet wound to the temple.

Yogender Yadav Grenadier Yogendra Singh Yadav, an Indian Army soldier instrumental in capturing the strategic Tiger Hill during the Kargil War. He was awarded the Param Vir Chakra – the country’s highest gallantry award.

Rifleman Sanjay Kumar Killing five enemy personnel, lifting a machine gun while hit by a bullet in thigh muscle, lobbying a grenade and clearing a important army post. It is not a narration of any popular bollywood film but a real life scene enacted by Rifleman Sanjay Kumar of the 13 JAK Rif in “Operation Vijay” while capturing army post in the Mushkoh Valley. He was awarded Param Vir Chakara and only one of handfull of personnel to be conferred this highest military award. Little did the PVC awardee know that his act would bring this laurel, for him it was a part of the duty which was executed with perfection.

Cap Vikram BatraI’ll either come back after raising the Indian flag in victory or return wrapped in it.
– Shaheed Captain Vikram Batra, PVC
Captain Vikram Batra fought with exceptional bravery and magnitude, which is rarely seen. He has set an example before the youth of our nation, which shall inspire generations to come. In recognition of his gallant act, Point 4875 has now been renamed as Captain Vikram Batra Top and has received all credit to capturing this vital peak by his Commanding Officer, Colonel Y.K. Joshi, 13 JAK Rifles. For his sustained display of the most conspicuous personal bravery and junior leadership of the highest order in the face of the enemy, Captain Vikram Batra was awarded the Param Vir Chakra, India’s highest medal for gallantry, posthumously.

Cap Manoj PandeyLieutenant Manoj Kumar Pandey, 1/11 Gorkha Rifles, forced back the intruders from the Batalik sector on 11 June 1999. He led his men to recapture the Jubar Top, a feature of great operational importance. But his finest hour was in the capture of Khalubar in the early morning hours of 3 July 1999. On the night of 2/3 July 1999 the battalion’s progress on to its final objective, was halted by a determined enemy firmly entrenched on commanding heights. Clearing it was critical as the battalion faced the prospect of being day lighted in a vulnerable area. Lieutenant Pandey stepped forward to take on the mission. Quickly sizing up the situation, the young officer led his platoon along a narrow, treacherous ridge that led to the enemy position. While still short of the objective, the enemy fired upon the Indian soldiers effectively stalling the Indian attack. Displaying great courage, he surged ahead of his troops and charged at the enemy with a full throated battle cry through a hail of bullets.

Lt Anuj NayyarOn 06 July 1999, Charlie Company was tasked to capture an objective which was part of the Pimple Complex on the western slopes of Point 4875, at a height of 16,250 feet. At the beginning of the attack, the Company Commander got injured and the command of the company fell on Captain Anuj Nayyar, 17 Jat. Captain Nayyar continued to command his leading platoon into the attack under heavy enemy artillery and mortar fire. As the platoon advanced, the leading section reported location of 3 to 4 enemy bunkers. Captain Nayyar moved forward towards the first bunker and fired the rocket launcher and lobbed grenades into it. Thereafter, the section along with Captain Nayyar physically assaulted and cleared the bunker. The enemy, which was well entrenched, brought heavy volume of automatic fire. Captain Nayyar, unmindful of his personal safety, motivated his men and cleared two more bunkers. While clearing the fourth bunker, an enemy RPG shell killed him on the spot. In this action, Captain Nayyar killed nine enemy soldiers and destroyed three medium machine gun bunkers of the enemy. The success of this operation, after a brief setback, was largely due to the outstanding personal bravery and exemplary junior leadership of Captain Nayyar. He displayed indomitable resolve, grit and determination and motivated his command by personal example, acting beyond the call of duty. For conspicuous gallantry and supreme sacrifice, Captain Anuj Nayyar was honoured with the Maha Vir Chakra, posthumously.

Lt Vijayant ThaparThe death of Maj. Vivek Gupta, Saurav Kalia and the recovery of Maj Adhikari body had a deep impact on Robin. The killings , the hand to hand fighting in which heads rolled was tough on a young man just 22 years.

Vijayant moved under the command of his CO Col. M.B. Ravindernath, VrC and his company commander Major P. Acharya. The battalion was then given the task of capturing Tololing. This was a God sent opportunity for Vijayant as he was an officer always looking for action. After the initial assault by Major Mohit Saxena was held up, on the night of 12th June’99 Capt. Vijayant Thapar led his platoon to capture Barbad Bunker.

After the successful capture of Tololing he was given the task of capturing Three Pimples, Knoll and Lone Hill area. The attack started with Vijyant’s platoon leading on a full moon night along a razor sharp ridge wih no cover to offer. There was intense and accurate artillery shelling and heavy enemy fire. He lost some of his dear men and some more were injured causing the attack to be disrupted. However with his indominable spirit and tremendous urge to capture Knoll he got together, the remenants of his men and moved through a ravine to face the enemy. It was a full moon night . Moreover this was an impossible position to capture. The troops of 6 Northern Light Infantry had all the advantages. Strongly prepared positions one narrow knife edge ridge, with precipitous slopes on both side, ravines thousands of feet deep, devoid of cover and almost vertical climbs at places.

While the exchange of fire was going on, full of excitement Vijayant reached his company which had already secured a foothold on Knoll. By this time his company commander Major P. Achrya had been killed. At this news Vijayant’s anger was explosive. He surged ahead with his colleague Naik Tilak Singh. Both of them started engaging the enemy merely 15 mts. away. There were two enemy machine guns firing towards them. After about an hour and a half of fierceful exchange of bullets and abuses Vijayant decided that he had to end the enemy. As he moved up to do so a burst of fire struck him on his head. He fell in the arms of his comrade Naik Tilak Singh. A brave son of India had fallen. It was after that the men of his company charged and fully captured Knoll. The victory at Knoll on 29 June 1999, is a saga of bravery unmatched, and unbounded grit and determination. Courage alone and unflinching faith in almighty God alone turned a tactically impossible situation into a victory

For this act of bravery and his ultimate sacrifice, Capt. Vijayant Thapar was awarded the Vir Chakra.

Lieutenant Keishing Clifford NangrumOn the night of 30 June/01 July 1999, in the operations to capture Point 4812, Lieutenant Keishing Clifford Nongrum was tasked to assault the feature from South-Eastern direction. Lieutenant Nongrum led his column over the near impossible vertical feature. On reaching the top, his column encountered strong enemy opposition. The enemy was well entrenched in interconnected bunkers, carved out of boulders, and remained invulnerable to even artillery fire. The enemy pinned the column of Lieutenant Nongrum down with heavy and accurate automatic fire for about two hours. On seeing the futility of own fire against the fortified bunkers, Lieutenant Nongrum with utter disregard to personal safety charged through the fire zone. Closing in with the first bunker he threw grenades into it and killed six enemy soldiers. He then tried to snatch the universal machine gun of the enemy from the bunker and received a volley of bullets. The audacious action of Lieutenant Nongrum stunned the enemy giving valuable reaction time to his troops to close in and finally clear the position. Though severely wounded, Lieutenant Nongrum refused to be evacuated and fought valiantly till he succumbed to his injuries. This act resulted in the ultimate capture of Point 4812. For conspicuous gallantry and supreme sacrifice, Lieutenant Keishing Clifford Nongrum was honoured with the Maha Vir Chakra, posthumously.

Major Sonam WangchukOn one of the world’s most brutal battlefields, his colleagues and officers say, Wangchuk has captured a vital mountain ridge in the Chorbat La sub-sector near Batalik, giving the army a foothold that it desperately needed. They’ve gone over the mountain tops and now directly face the Pakistani side of the loc. “Thanks to his heroic action, we are sitting bang on the LoC in Chorbat La,” says a Ladakh Scouts officer. On May 26, when Wangchuk got his orders, he promised his son he would return for his birthday on June 11. Given his battle experience in the Siachen glacier, Wangchuk was the obvious choice for the assault. Two days later he was asked to capture an 18,000-ft high ridge just inside the Indian side of the loc. Glacial and rocky, with days warming to minus 6 degrees Celsius, the mountain with its 80 degree gradient was a test even for skilled mountaineers. Information filtering in over wireless dispatches from the LoC describe how while leading a platoon (36 men) and supported by artillery fire from the rear positions, Wangchuk was negotiating an ice wall in the dead of night on May 31 when he heard sounds of picks and hammers on the other side of the ridge facing Pakistan. He quickly flashed a wireless message to the rear. Wangchuk and his men made it to the ridge top in three hours under heavy fire by Pakistani troops from the flanks. The mountains rang with the Ladakh Scouts’ war cry, “Ki Ki So So Lhargyalo” (The gods will triumph), as the superbly fit Wangchuk — he was a top athlete at Delhi’s Modern School — led his men towards the brutal enemy-held cliffs. From there they spotted a group of intruders trying to scale the ridge from the Pakistan side. Wangchuk told his men to hold on till the enemy came within firing range. Four intruders were killed in the gun-battle. Wangchuk and his column had foiled a major infiltration attempt. The soldiers then retrieved the bodies of the intruders who turned out to be Pakistani Army regulars.

A grateful Nation remembers all the Kargil Heroes and pay their homage to those brave men. Jai Hind. Jai Bharat. Indian Armed Forces Rock.

Homage