The parents of an Indian Army officer martyred in the 1999 Kargil conflict, who are settled in this picturesque tea garden town, are struggling to get justice for their son who was a victim of war atrocities.
For the past 11 years, the parents of Captain Saurabh Kalia N K Kalia and his wife Vijaya have been raising their voice against violations of human rights and brutalities committed by the Pakistani Army against their son and other soldiers during the Kargil war.
"We have been moving from pillar to post to get justice for the martyred soldiers. On this Kargil Vijay Divas, we again ask the Indian government why it's shy of calling the atrocities committed by the Pakistani Army as war crimes," Kalia, 62, who retired as a senior scientist from the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, told IANS.
Kalia of the 4 Jat Regiment, was the first Indian Army officer to report incursions by the Pakistani Army on Indian soil. He and five soldiers Sepoys Arjun Ram, Bhanwar Lal Bagaria, Bhika Ram, Moola Ram and Naresh Singh were on a patrol of the Bajrang Post in the Kaksar sector when they were taken captive by Pakistani troops May 15, 1999.
They were barbarically tortured for weeks before being killed. Their mutilated bodies were handed over to Indian authorities June 9, 1999.
"We fail to understand why the Indian government is quiet on taking up the scourge of war crimes at the international level, at the International Court of Justice and with international human rights organisations," he said.
He said the Ministry of External Affairs informed them under the Right to Information (RTI) Act that "the government of India had conveyed the anguish and anger of the Indian people to the foreign minister of Pakistan during his visit to Delhi June 12, 1999. An aide memoire was also handed to Pakistan June 15, 1999. However, Pakistan dined our claims".
"This was not sufficient enough to express anguish over the war crimes. We are demanding that the government to highlight the plight of war crimes at the international for a so that no other prisoner of war could face Saurabh's fate," he said, with tears rolling out of his eyes.
To highlight the plight of the war victims, Saurabh Kalia's father has also started a signature campaign.
"The response of the public to the online signature campaign was tremendous. Till date around 1.40 lakh people participated in the signature campaign. We have more than 43,000 handwritten postcards," Kalia added.
Saurabh Kalia, who was posted in Kargil as his first posting after passing out of the Indian Military Academy, did not even live long enough to receive his first pay packet as an officer.