GALEY LAGO YAAR BY CAPTAIN NAVEEN NAGAPPA

Have you ever thought how it would be to meet a friend, philosopher, guide, brother, colleague whom you had lost more than 17 years back.

13 Bn the Jammu & Kashmir Rifles was tasked to capture point 4875 during Kargil war. It was decided that the attack would be launched on 04 July 1999. Before launching the attack Capt Vikram Batra during the customary hug had said to me “galle lagho yaar, na jaane koinse mulaakat akhare hogi” (give a tight hug, you never know which will be the last hug).
Little did I realize the consequence of those words then, as I was entering the danger zone, while Capt Vikram Batra was being given the well deserved break after his successful attack on point 5140.

On 04 July 1999, we launched the attack on point 4875 and I was leading the attack. There have been numerous occasions when I cheated death while the enemy bullets very narrowly missed hitting me. Till the mid-day of 06 July 1999, my company had gained considerable ground by eliminating many enemies. That is when Capt Vikram Batra joined me on point 4875.

By midnight of 06 July 1999, we had captured all the bunkers occupied by the enemy less the last one for which the only way to capture was frontal attack. On 07 July 1999, early in the morning enemy lobbed a grenade into my bunker, which badly damaged both my leg. The enemy was trying to launch counter attack.

That is the time Capt Vikram Batra came rushing to the bunker in which I was injured. He asked me to go down and get my legs treated. Since I had promised my company that I will hoist the tricolor on point 4875, I was reluctant to come down. But seeing the state of my leg and too much of blood loss with my life being in danger, Capt Vikram Batra ordered me to go down. I being his junior had to obey his order.

I was crawling down, unable to walk, both legs being severely injured. Capt Vikram Batra punched his fist to mine and took over the charge of attack on point 4875. Knowing the brave nature of Capt Vikram Batra and the only possible attack to capture point 4875 was frontal and suicidal, it was as if written all over the skies that something historical is about to happen.

On being told Capt Vikram Batra won point 4875 for his team, his paltan the defense forces and for the entire nation by making the supreme sacrifice, I always wished that I could stop the time when our fists met each others, till eternity so that he would be amongst us today and forever.

Friends, bidding adieu to a brother officer who is embarking on an attack, return from where is next to none, is the most difficult circumstances in which an officer would like to be in. I have been in that position, wished to hold the time back or at least give the last hug as he had said “galle lagho yaar, na jaane koinse mulaakat akhare hogi”

This mental block prevented me from going back to the unit, going back to the battalion, visiting Kargil war memorial, meeting the people with whom I had the privilege of fighting the enemy on point 4875 and most importantly I never mustered the courage to meet the parents and twin brother of Capt Vikram Batra for the past 17 years.

As fate would have it, we all gathered at one place for the Golden Jubilee Celebrations. The first time I came across Vishal Batra, twin brother of Capt Vikram Batra, in a flash I was reminded of my last meeting with Capt Vikram Batra when I crawled down point 4875 and he went ahead for the attack. Vishal not only is a look alike of Capt Vikram, but also has the same smile, same charm, same josh and same charisma. Rather I would say two physical entities but same soul.

For me it was nothing short of meeting Capt Vikram Batra again after 17 years. It seems that the thing I always wanted to do with Capt Vikram, the tight hug, the firm handshake, the meeting of fists and some emotional talk and to convey my gratitude was fulfilled.
But for you Vikram I wouldn’t have been here, I wouldn’t have meet my wife, I wouldn’t have had the pleasure of holding my dear daughter Savera in my arms, wouldn’t have lived on the earth for the past 17 years.

Thank you Vikram sir, just to let you know you are being missed and remembered.
“galle lagho yaar, na jaane koinse mulaakat akhare hogi”

Captain Vikram Batra.jpg

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CAPTAIN JERRY PREMRAJ

Captain R Jerry Premraj was an artillery officer. He was working in 158 Med Regt(sp) in Kargil. During first year degree he was selected in Indian Air Force as an aircrafts man in 1990. He joined Indian Air Force in 02 Feb 1990 before attaining the age of 18. In Indian Air Force he joined as an instrument fitter. His basic training was at Jalahalli, Bangalore. After two years of training he was posted in 7 wing Ambala. From Ambala he was sent for maintenance conversion flight training of jaguar aircraft at Gorakhpur. Up to 1996 he was working in Ambala. Meanwhile he completed his degree from Kakatiya University in sociology in one sitting. He cleared CDS and was selected as an officer in Indian army. He had undergone training in OTA Chennai and was commissioned as an artillery officer in Indian army on 5th Sep 1997. While joining army he was corporal in Indian Air Force with seven years of service. He was posted to 158 Med Regt at Meerut after training. While working at Meerut he was sent for Young Officers’ course

22nd April 1999 Captain Jerry Premraj married Praseena. He had done reservation on 3rd June 99 in Rajasthani exp to go back to Meerut. He was planning to take Praseena along with him. But on 30th May a telegram came from his unit, stating that his leave is cancelled and report for duty immediately. At that time he was at Mettur his relative’s house. He was going to Ooty on honeymoon trip. He did not go to Ooty. He cancelled his honey moon trip and came back home. Meanwhile his Commanding Officer called up and told him not to bring his wife Praseena. So he cancelled his wife’s ticket. He cancelled his reservation and preponed his journey to 3rd June. On 3rd June 1999, he went to Meerut. At Meerut there were only reserve people since his unit is already moved to Drass sector. He was sent to his unit in Drass sector from Meerut. From there he was attached to 2 Naga Regt. Mean while he was promoted to the rank of Captain.

He was Forward Observation Officer to 2 Naga. On 7th July 1999 at point 4875 (twin bumps) while effecting accurate artillery fire he was hit on the shoulder by an enemy sniper. He saved the life of two of his subordinates. 17 enemy soldiers were killed on that morning. He refused to be evacuated and continued to give effective artillery fire. Again he was hit on the shoulder and head (total 5 gsw). He breathed his last at about 4’o clock on this day 17 years back. He was awarded Veer Chakra posthumously.

His brother Reginald Pavithran shared few words on his brother with us.

“Jerry was younger to me by three years. At 6 months of age he won healthy baby show in our village. He was very healthy at that time. He was having long hair. He was looking like a girl at that time. During his school days he was a very good cricketer. He was a fast bowler and an all rounder. In his captaincy their team won the cricket tournament in 10th standard. He was very good in studies. He studied in Malayalam medium but was very good in English. During his school days he was the student secretary of Indira Priyadarshini Science Centre at our village. Under his leadership this centre organised science exhibitions in the school. He was very God fearing also. He was active in Sunday schools also. He was a very good artist and was very good in pencil sketch. He was a very good cartoonist. From childhood he was fond of army. He appeared for NDA but could not clear. Then he tried to join navy as a sailor. But in medical he was rejected. Then he joined Air Force as an airman. But he was not satisfied with it. He was very brave. He was very adamant to become an army officer. He had only one aim. He tried very hard to accomplish his aim and finally achieved it. He was very competitive. Jerry and me together brought many trophies and prizes to our home in various competitions.

Although he was younger to me by three years, we were like friends not brothers. Before taking an important decision he will have a consultation with me. He was happy to take my guidance before taking an important step. He was fond of Mohanlal films. He was adept in storytelling. After seeing a film he will explain the story in such a way that I will not have to see the film again. He was a lovable person. His love, affection and care for others was unparallel. He was very social and jolly person. Once u got a chance to talk with him, I bet u will never forget him. He was such a fantastic guy.

He was killed in action on 7th July 1999. His body was brought home on 11th July (coffin was not opened)He was cremated at Venganur by the side of our house with full military honours. We have constructed a memorial for him before the first death anniversary. Now for the last 16 years we are conducting a prayer meeting at his memorial on Jul 7. We have constructed a church nearby in his memory. We have been born and brought up together. Since the coffin was not opened, I am not able to believe till now that he is no more. His smiling face is still in my mind. I feel like I have lost my right arm. Life will never be the same again. Now wherever I go people love, care and respect me on behalf of him. I like to be known as Captain Jerry’s brother. I feel blessed and honoured to have a brother like him.”

THE LAST JOURNEY OF CAPTAIN AMIT BHARADWAJ

I don’t know how to start. As I got these pictures of Captain Amit Bharadwaj’s journey towards immortality, I just became blank. I felt 17 is just a number. 17 X 365 X 24 is also just a number. There can never be a number too big. It will always remain so fresh – the loss, the pain, the wait.

17 years ago, this day he came home wrapped in the tri-colour. He came home after 56 days of attaining martyrdom for his dear motherland. He was 27 years old then – not too old but very brave. In that age, we spend our days in luxury and comfort. We hardly dare to come out of our safe zone. And he at that age risked his life, didn’t think of his family, his own comfort but thought only about his nation and us – his countrymen. I can’t even think where from all these courage and determination comes. He didn’t think of what will happen after his martyrdom. He knew his country needed him at that time. India has always been a land of true warriors or kshatriyas and he was a perfect warrior son of his motherland.

Today, whether you cry for a terrorist or pelt stones to his fellow brother soldiers just don’t matter to him. He did his duty and he knows his brother soldiers will also do the same and even give their life without a second thought for the nation – however ungrateful it may be. As they believe –

“I will always do my duty, no matter what the price.
I’ve counted up the cost, I know the sacrifice.
Oh, and I don’t want to die for you,
But if dying is asked of me,
I’ll bear that cross with honor,
‘Cause freedom don’t come free.

Beside my brothers and my sisters I will proudly take a stand,
When liberty’s in jeopardy I will always do what’s right,
I’m out here on the front lines. Sleep in peace tonight.”

But we, by not thinking about the family he left behind¬ instead thinking of the father or son of a terrorist, we are showing how misfit we are for such great sacrifices of greater men in uniform.

Dear Captain Amit Bharadwaj, our beloved Amit bhaiya, bless us that one day, some day we may become more deserving of your sacrifice.

Desh bows down her head before your bravery and selfless sacrifice. We are ever grateful to you. Thank you for protecting us and ensuring our safety by risking your own.

I guess Heaven was needing a hero
Somebody just like you
Brave enough to stand up
For what you believe
And follow it through
When I try to make it make sense in my mind
The only conclusion I come to
Is Heaven was needing a hero like you

Picture Courtsey – Sunita Dhonkaria (elder sister of Captain Amit Bharadwaj)

CAPTAIN R SUBRAMANIAN, KIRTI CHAKRA (POSTHUMOUSLY)

Last evening, there was a story telling session….. I came to know about some of our warriors over phone from Vikas…….I thought to share those stories of supreme braveries with you all. While searching for details about one of them I found a community in Orkut and achieved little in the mission to get some details about him – Capt R Subramanian, 1PARA, SF. 
Capt Subbu was born on 12th Aug 1976 to Mr. and Mrs. S. Ramachandran – a family from Kerala, settled in Mumbai. The young boy scored 94% and 96% in the Xth and XIIth standard examination and got selected in the National Defense Academy (NDA), Pune for the 90th course at NDA (July 1993). He passed out from NDA in 1996 and completed the training at IMA, Dehra Dun in 1997. The daring young man was then attached with the 1 Para, SF since 1997.

During the Kargil war, the young Lt was busy at Drass Sector, Mushkoh valley till end of August 1999 and led several tough operations there. He was promoted as Captain in March 2000.

When he went back to his troop after a leave in June 2000, he found his men preparing for an assault against the militants in the Haphruda forest of Kupwara. Capt Subbu volunteered the operation. During the operation they managed to kill 5 militants among the eight and took a break at the night.

In the next morning they went to the site of operation and while removing the bodies of the militants, suddenly one the them fired from the closest range on Capt Subbu. Instantaneously, he also fired on the militant and both of them killed each other. The point blank range firing made impossible to identify the face of the brave heart and Indian Army covered the face with a thick layer of sandalwood before the hero reached his home wrapped in tricolor.

On 19th of June, 2000 the nation lost one of her most talented, efficient and intelligent officers in the forest of Kupwara and he was awarded with Kirti Chakra on the republic day of 2001. The warrior could probably be descried the best in his own words,

“You have never lived until You have almost died, And for those who choose to fight, Life has a special flavor, The protected will never know!!!”
Jai Hind……

5 COMPANIONS OF CAPTAIN SAURABH KALIA

They never die for fame or name; neither do they die for money, awards or pension. They give their life and their family for the sake of our safety comfort and happiness. But it’s our responsibility to know about our fallen heroes as we owe our life and happiness to them. Today’s post is about such 5 unsung war heroes who along with Captain Saurabh Kalia of the Indian Army laid down his life during the Kargil War while being held as a prisoner of war by the Pakistani security forces.

On May 15, 1999 Saurabh Kalia along with five soldiers – Sepoys Arjun Ram, Banwari Lal Bagaria, Bhikha Ram Moondh, Moola Ram Bidiyasar and Naresh Singh Sinsinwar of the 4 Jat Regiment had gone for a routine patrol of the Bajrang Post in the Kaksar sector in the rugged, treeless Ladakh mountains. After a continuous cross fire with Pakistan armed forces from across the LoC, he and his troops ran out of ammunition. 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 meanwhile Radio Skardu of Pakistan announced that Captain Saurabh Kalia had been captured by the Pakistani troops. It was after this that India discovered hundreds of guerrillas had established fortified positions on the peaks of the hills deep inside the Indian side of the Line of control, with sophisticated equipment and supply lines back to Pakistan-controlled Kashmir

Captain Kalia and his men were in captivity for over twenty-two (May 15, 1999 – June 7, 1999) days and subjected to torture as evident from their bodies handed over by Pakistan Army on June 9, 1999. The postmortem revealed that the Pakistan army had tortured their prisoners by burning their bodies with cigarettes, piercing ear-drums with hot rods, puncturing eyes before removing them, breaking most of the teeth and bones, fractures of the skull, cutting the lips, chipping of nose, chopping off limbs and private organs of these soldiers besides inflicting all sorts of physical and mental tortures and finally shooting them dead, as evidenced by the bullet wound to the temple. The postmortem report also confirmed that injuries were inflicted ante-mortem (before death)

** Sepoy Moola Ram Bidiyasar belonged to village Kathoti in Jayal tehsil of Nagaur district in Rajasthan. He was in Unit-04 Jat Regiment of Indian Army. His father’s name is Raghunat Ram and mother’s name is Rameshwari. His mother inspired him to join Indian Army. His entire village is very proud of his sacrifice.

** Sepoy Arjun Ram Baswana of 4 Jat Regiment was born on 5th October 1976 in the village Budhi in Nagaur tehsil of Nagaur district in Rajasthan. His father’s name is Chaudhari Chokha Ram Baswana and his mother’s name is Bhanwari Devi. He was very good in sports like Kabaddi and hockey. He has even played in state level and got many awards. Because of his well built body, he had taken part in wrestling also.

** Sepoy Banwari Lal Bagaria belonged to village Sigdola Chhota in Laxmangarh tehsil of Sikar district in Rajasthan. He was survived by his wife Smt. Santosh Devi.

** Sepoy Bhikha Ram Moondh was born in 16th January 1977 in the village Patasar in Pachpadra tehsil of Barmer district in Rajasthan. His father’s name is Chenaram Choudhry and mother’s name is Raai Devi. He joined the Jat Regiment of Indian Army in 26th April 1995. He got married to Bhanwri Devi in the year 1994.

**Sepoy Naresh Singh Sinsinwar belonged to village Chhoti Ballabh in Iglas tehsil of Aligarh district in Uttar Pradesh. He was survived by his wife Smt. Kalpana Devi.

15th Msy

SQUADRON LEADER AJAY AHUJA

The air warrior whom we lost 16years back in Operation Safed Sagar…..
#KargilWar #16YearsOfKargilWar #OperationVijay

The experience of Kargil war taught us many things. Ultimate bravoury, ultimate sacrifice, height of tenacity and obviously height of comradeship…. Young officers push back the soldiers having family and receive the bullet in their chest….. senior officers gave supreme sacrifice suffering ultimate torture while trying to save their juniors…. Sq Ld Ajay Ahuja ejected from his fighter jet to save his junior Fl Lt K Nachiketa…. he was captured by the opponent army and killed…when the body was handed over to us a post-mortem examination conducted at the Srinagar Base Hospital claimed that Ahuja had landed safely after ejecting from his plane, but had been killed later by Pakistani soldiers.

The post-mortem report of Squadron Leader Ajay Ahuja spoke of three grievous wounds:

1. There is a penetrating gunshot wound; entry near right ear, exit near the external orifice of left ear.
2. Gunshot wound: entry 2 cm medial to right nipple, exit near left iliac crest damaging internal viscera like liver, intestine and peritoneum.
3. Compound comminuted fracture left knee.
4. Suffered multiple punctured wounds over left and right thighs, rupture of right lung, injury to neck vessels, small intestine and left liver.

It was reported that the left knee fracture was sustained when he parachuted down, but the gunshots show that he landed alive and was shot. And his death was called as a cold blooded murder.

Desh remembers the air warrior on this day when he made supreme sacrifice following the tradition of comradeship in Indian armed forces….Jai Hind…..

Sqdrn Leader Ajay Ahuja

 

LT. COL R. VISWANATHAN

Story of a leader who led the operation on Tololing top to lead the unit of 18 Grenadiers

MISSION: During Kargil War of 1999,Lt. Col. R. Viswanathan went up the heights to recover the bodies of three of his men. He captured three bunkers but was shot in the groin and thigh. He died while being evacuated.

The letter was to the point. “I am proceeding to an unidentified destination. It could be dangerous.” It was written by Lt-Colonel R. Viswanathan to his wife Jalaja on June 2 but never posted. It still reached her, on June 6 along with the bullet-riddled body of her husband.

Lt. Col. R Viswanathan was on a leader’s mission. Three of his men lay dead on the windswept slopes of the Tololing ridge and he had to get them down. It was the least a gallant officer could do. Leading his troops on the night of June 2, Lt. Col. RViswanathan crawled up the ridge on his stomach under heavy enemy fire. It was the same old story: the intruders were up on the top, well ensconced in bunkers with their LMGs blazing in the still night. He captured three enemy bunkers before bullet injuries on the thigh and groin stopped him. First aid didn’t help and as his troops were trying to get Lt. Col. RViswanathan back to Drass, he died on the way.

Lt. Col. RVishwanathan, 39, should have been at home if the Kargil operation had not taken place. He had planned to reach Kochi on June 4 to take his wife and two children back to his base on June 21. Lt Colonel Vishwanathan, who did his schooling at Kochi, was commissioned in 1981 after completing his training at the National Defence Academy, Khadakvasla, and the IMA, Dehradun.

He had served with the Indian PeaceKeeping Force in Sri Lanka and later with the UN Peace Keeping Force in Angola. A classmate, Captain Srikumar said Lt. Col. RViswanathan was a very dedicated person prepared to take any risk.

The phone rang on the afternoon of June 3 at the house of Viswanathan’s father V. Ramakrishnan in Kochi. “I was told that my son was no more,” recalls Ramakrishnan. The news changed their lives. Jalaja till today declines to meet the hundreds of well-wishers who stream in to offer condolences. Ramakrishnan on the other hand gives the visitors the details of his son’s life — helped by Viswanathan’s daughter Anjali. “It is Angola periyappa,” she says when Ramakrishnan tries to recall the place other than Rwanda where Viswanathan had worked as part of the UN Peace Keeping Mission. The family says it is overwhelmed by community support. The local school has offered Viswanathan’s children admission, the state Government has promised a memorial and Rs 5 lakh, and the army museum at Jabalpur wants to display his uniform. As Ramakrishnan lovingly takes out a uniform his wife Kamal asks if this was the one he was wearing when he died. “No, no. How many times have I told you? That uniform is riddled with bullet holes. This is another set,” he said proudly.

Lt Col R Vishwanathan was the highest ranking officer killed in the Kargil conflict. As the second-in-command of the battalion, Vishwanathan need not have gone to the higher altitudes where the actual fighting was taking place. However, when reports came into base camp of a company having been trapped by the enemy, he volunteered to lead a rescue team. Climbing the sheer cliff at night, he and his men attacked the enemy under the cover of darkness. Vishwanathan killed five of the intruders before being shot himself.

Desh expresses her deep regards for the brave hearts of 18 Grenadiers and the second in command of the unit who made supreme sacrifice to ensure the safety of their dear motherland on the day when we lost them….

(Sources: various articles available in internet)