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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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)

MAJOR SUDHIR KUMAR WALIA

Major Sudhir Walia1

REAL HEROES NEVER DIE…..THEY JUST RELOAD

A young boy , Sudhir Kumar from the hills of Himachal got selected in National Defense Academy and attached with the 3, Jat regiment after completion of the training.

Seventy thousand Indian troops were sent to Sri Lanka to enforce peace between the Sri Lankan army and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Lieutenant Sudhir Walia was one of them. India withdrew its troops in 1990 and lost 1,157 soldiers on that peacekeeping mission. Sudhir made a mark for himself with his skills in jungle warfare. On his return from Sri Lanka, he moved to the 9 Parachute Commando regiment, the Indian Army’s unit for unconventional warfare. 9 Para is one of the Indian Army’s four special forces and specializes in mountain operations. He served two six month stints on the Siachen Glacier — the highest and harshest of all battlefields at a height of 6,300 metres and excelled in high altitude warfare.

On 1997, he was selected from amongst the best of India’s commandos and sent for a specialised course to the United States. As a soldier, the farthest Rulia Ram had gone was standing watch over India’s international borders.But his son had travelled from his village to “The Pentagon — he went and spoke over there,” says his father swelling with pride. Many times, while Sudhir was away at the front or in America, Rulia Ram sat on his verandah and thought of the days he had walked 15 miles to get to work. His son had made it all worthwhile. Major Walia’s photograph at the Pentagon hangs among many other photographs of his on the walls of his home. ‘Colonel’ was the nickname given to him by his peers who had come from 80 other countries.

When the six-month course ended, Major Walia — the only Indian in the group — had topped it.

When the kargil war started, Sudhir had finished his tenure with the then Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and asked to besent back to his unit fighting the war. Not wanting to break the laid-down norms, or his spirit, the COAS let him go. The Army House given him an affectionate send off that he richly deserved. Within 10 days of his return, he had led the “A” team to capture Zulu top, over 5200 meters high in the Mashkoh sector, on 25th July, 1999. In this action, thirteen Pakistani soldiers belonging to the 19 frontier force were killed. (we returned their bodies after the Pakistanis raised a white flag). Our own casualties were five soldiers killed. As per paperes received by the Board of Officers in the Army HQ subsequently, Sudhir was recommended for a Vir Chakra.

A few days later, Rambo, as Maj Sudhir was called by his men met COAS during his(COAS) visit to the valley. His para commando team had reverted to anti terrorist operations in the Kashmir Valley during those days. The COAS asked him about his attack on Zulu Ridge without any acclimatization. He smiled and replied “ Sir, you know that I am a Pahari. I don’t need acclimatization.” With a smile, COAS said him not to break the laid down rules again.

On Sunday, August 29, 1999, a month after the Kargil war ended, Rambo went on a operation to demolish a terrorist hideout in the thick Haphruda jungle in Kupwara district.Major Walia had threaded through the forest the whole night, but the enemy remained elusive.In the morning as he went past a stream, he spotted toothpaste foam by the edge of the water. He knew the terrorists were within striking distance and stealthily caught up with them.

Sudhir who had already operated in this jungle earlier was tasked to search and destroy a terrorists’ hideout. He and his buddy, Naik Kheem Singh had spotted and surprised the terrorists deep in the jungle. In the ensuing fire fight, they had killed nine terrorists. It was a daring action, led all the way from the front. Rambo was hit when a bullet ripped through his stomach. But, he continued to lead his men till the end of the operation….fifteen years back, on this day the nation lost her Rambo in this fierce battle of Haphurda jungle. It was indeed a great loss for the armed forces as well as for the nation. Rambo was recommended for, and his father received Ashok Chakra on his behalf on the next republic day.

Desh pays her sincere tribute to her beloved Rambo on the day when he made supreme sacrifice while protecting his motherland…