Thursday, July 27, 2006

Kargil: 7th Anniversary

Hundreds of heroes laid down their lives in Kargil so that India's politicians can continue to steal the poor people's hard-earned money and play Casteist Reservation gains to stay in power.

What has happened to the old parents who lost their sons, the widowed wives who lost their husbands, the orphaned children who lost their fathers ?

Rediff talks to the father of one of the Kargil heroes:
Kargil 7th anniversary: A hero's father speaks

July 25, 2006 13:49 IST

July 26th is Kargil Vijay Diwas, and this year will mark the seventh anniversary of Operation Vijay.

Recalling Kargil hero Major Ajay Prasad's valour, his father, retired defence psychologist R N Prasad, spoke to UNI on the occasion.

'Nothing can aid us now except an aerial attack,' were the words spoken by Major Ajay Prasad on the morning of May 19, 1999 -- the day the Mechanised Infantry officer gallantly fell fighting Pakistani regulars in Avantipur area of Kargil sector.

Pride and grief jostle as Dr Prasad pauses to take off his glasses and wipe away the tears.

"On May 17, Ajay sent a message to his seniors to rush more forces, but it was in vain. The following day he repeated his message as it was his view that the fight was not against terrorists but trained soldiers of Pakistan," the Bhopal-resident says at his Arvind Vihar residence.

"Air strikes were launched only days later but had they started on May 18, many Indian lives could have been saved.

Major Ajay was a fighter, but the situation was unfortunate,'' the martyr's father feels.

Pointing out that insurgency never stops unless struck with a mailed fist, the defence psychologist adds that a comprehensive security cover ought to be provided to Kashmir's local populace so that they overcome their fear and begin disclosing details that will enable the army to emerge victorious in the war against terror.

"While stationed at Akhnoor, Ajay performed his duties so judiciously that not a single jawan under his command suffered any injury even by chance. He was always first to plunge in where danger lurked and kept his men behind him,'' Dr Prasad says.

The drawing room of Dr Prasad's home is decorated with medals bestowed on the officer. One of them is a replica of an ancient warrior presented posthumously on 'Bank Diwas' -- July 1, 1999 -- by the State Bank of India and bearing the legend 'Shaheed Major Ajay Prasad ke balidan ko naman'.

"Commissioned as a second lieutenant into the 18 Rajput Regiment in June 1988 after training at the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun, he was asked to report to the 13 Mechanised Infantry at Trincomalee in Sri Lanka during the Indian Peace-Keeping Force's Op Pawan," Dr Prasad narrates.

While later combating Kuki militants in Manipur, the officer received warnings no less than four times. One of them said: 'Major Ajay, you have old parents, a beautiful wife and a lovely child. You better look after them. Our struggle was on even in the British era and will continue.'

"In the post-Kargil period, the martyr's wife was provided a job as lecturer in the local Sarojini Naidu Government Girls Post-Graduate (Nutan) College but later remarried and shifted to the cantonment town Jabalpur along with her daughter," Lieutenant-Colonel (retd) Suresh Chandra Dixit -- who is District Sainik Welfare Officer and Secretary, District Sainik Board (DSB), Bhopal -- told UNI.

Regarding what the army could do to help the kin of martyrs, he says: "It will be beneficial if the army canteen facilities are also extended to parents of martyr officers."

It is the society's responsibility to look after this segment.'' concludes Dr Prasad, whose other son is a commander in the Indian Navy.

Rediff presents a slideshow:

Remembering Kargil's heroes, seven years on

July 26, 2006

India was busy celebrating then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's successful Lahore visit. Pakistan was busy putting its pawns in place for war with India.

The battleground was high, the terrain was inhospitable, the task was tough. The Indian soldier's resolve was stronger, and the enemy got a fitting battering.

And it has been seven years today, seven years since our pride was restored.

Because July 26 is Vijay Divas, the day we celebrate our victory in the Kargil War, the day the Indian soldier helped us hold our heads high.

Guarding Our Pride: An Indian Army memorial service for Kargil War heroes in Dras, about 180 km east of Srinagar.


Units of the Pakistan army had occupied the heights overlooking the strategic National Highway 1 Alpha, the breathtaking road which runs from Srinagar to Leh.

The highway is the lifeline to Ladakh and the all-important base on the Siachen glacier. India could not afford to let enemy guns batter this lifeline.

The Indian Army was caught unawares. It took a while for it to take stock.

For many brave, young Indians, it was their first war.

Last Post: Flowers mark the memorial service in Dras.


Those brave, young Indian soldiers needed to be heroes, not just men. They had to wrench back the high mountain posts the enemy had taken by deceit.

Even in aggression, the Indian soldiers were restrained. Their brief was: Do not cross the Line of Control, even if the enemy flees across; win back the peaks.

The Indian Army rose to the challenge. Its heroes climbed the perilous slopes with ammunition and weapons. They braved altitudes where just to breathe is a tough task. All the while, enemy gunfire and artillery rained on them.

We Before I: Indian Army soldiers at the memorial service in Dras.

Initially, India suffered setbacks and casualities. But onto the mountains of death climbed its bravest sons. Soon, the peaks began to fall.

The recapture of Tiger Hill was when the country knew that its soldiers had not died in vain.

Kargil gave the country many young and fearless champions. Names like Captain Anuj Nayyar, Lieutenant, later Captain Vikram Batra, Captain Manoj Pandey became household heroes.

The Indian Army lost 600 soldiers. Six hundred families lost sons, husbands, fathers. The country won back its pride.

Lest We Forget: Widows of Kargil War heroes at the Dras memorial service.


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