Ten years down the line, on July 26, Kargil borders saw the last of Pakistanis when Indian Army thrashed them badly and pushed them back into the badlands of Pakistan. This war was fought on the high mountainous regions of Kargil, Drass, Batalik and Mushkoh valley. The Pakis had all the higher points and the Indians started the assault from ground zero. Looking at those mountains, one can very well imagine how difficult it was for our soldiers to get back the peaks.
Himachalis were in the fore-front of this war. A total of 52 soldiers laid down their lives defending the borders. Notably, Capt. Saurav Kalia, one of the first casualty of the war and then the PVC Capt. Vikram Batra and Rifleman Sanjay Kumar are some of the names one can never forget. Capt. Batra’s war cry of ‘Yeh Dil Mange More’ from the peaks of point 5140 is something which generations will never forget. The Lion of Palampur has epitomized his name for centuries.
10 years later the nation remembers it heroes and the war as a passing remembrance. It took the Defense forces to organize a function at Drass to make people remember there was a war forced on us. The political class remembers this occasion with a faltering guilt. For the Congress, it was a BJP’s war! For once when there was protest from the family members of the dead soldiers did the Govt. came out with some customary statement. Still the Prime Minister of India did not deem it fit to grace the function at Drass. Though he did attend the ceremony in Delhi. 527 of the best, brave and handsome men laid their lives for the country but the prime minister or the defence minister could not find time from their schedules to be a part of the ceremony at Drass. Not that these men need a certificate from our political class for their bravery but the families are left wondering what for they lost their dear ones?
Apart from our own political establishment, the Indian press always gives a red carpet treatment whenever Pervez Musharrf visits India or gives a sound bite on this war or Kashmir. While every Indian television plays the ‘Devil’s Advocate’ with him each year, no print and TV media has bothered to publicize Capt. Saurabh Kalia’s parents pleading of the torture faced by their son in captivity. Eventually his body was returned mutilated. This amounts to treachery by the much revered Indian press. Is this why our brave lads gave their lives?
Was this really a BJP’s war? Do we remember our soldiers only in times of war. Is this how a society and a nation pay homage to the brave. I am not sure!!