Ten years on, Kargil martyr's kins await Govt promises | india | Hindustan Times
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Ten years on, Kargil martyr's kins await Govt promises

india Updated: Jul 04, 2009 13:35 IST
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Ten years have passed since their son, one of the first casualties of the Kargil war, was tortured and killed by the Pakistani army, but Captain Saurabh Kalia’s aged parents are still holding onto a government promise to take up the case at international fora.

In the serene hills of Palampur in Himachal Pradesh, the death of their son is still fresh in the minds of N K Kalia and his wife Vijaya.

"Perhaps Capt. Saurabh Kalia had come to this world with a mission by awakening the sleepy nation with his supreme sacrifice. He is hailed by army as the first officer to inform about the large scale intrusion by Pakistan army in the guise of mujahideens," says 61-year-old Kalia.

22-year-old Kalia was the first casualty of the Kagil war in 1999 along with five other soldiers Arjun Ram, Bhanwar Lal Bagaria, Bhikaram, Moola Ram and Naresh Singh of Four Jat Regiment who were abducted by Pakistan army in May 1999 and tortured mercilessly for three weeks before being killed.

The mutilated bodies were handed over to the Indian Army at Kaksar sub-sector in Kargil on June 9, 1999, sending shockwaves in the country.

Kalia and his team were among the few Kargil martyrs who had not been given gallantry awards for their services to the nation but his family has no regrets.

"Our only demand from the Government is that it should keep its promise given in 1999 by the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and the then Defence Minister (George Fernandes) of raising the issue of torture and human rights violations with Pakistan and at international forums. We expect much more from the government in this direction," the father of the Army officer said.

"...we have donated all that was received. We do not have any regrets if Saurabh is not decorated or we are denied some more benefits. He did his duty in the highest traditions of the Indian Army. It gives us a deep sense of pride," he said.

The Himachal Government has renamed the street on which the Kalia household is located in Subash Nagar to honour the Captain.

Vijaya, who suffered a heart attack on hearing the news of her son's tragic end, gave up her job in the Himachal Pradesh Agriculture University to run an LPG agency given to the family by the Indian Oil Corporation to honour Capt Kalia.

Kalia, who was a Lieutenant at that time, did not even live long enough to receive his first pay packet as an officer. He had not even completed six months of service at that time.

A dedicated soldier, Kalia had volunteered to lead a patrol team after reports of infiltration in Kaksar area of Kargil emerged. His body was handed over on the eve of the visit of the then Pakistan Foreign Secretary Sartaj Aziz for peace talks.

Quoting the now-famous writing on the Kargil War Memorial -- "when you go home, tell them of us and say, for your tomorrow we gave our today" -- Kalia says he keeps telling the youth about his son.

"Our sufferings and pain can never be more than the brutal torture those six valiant sons of Mother India faced for over three weeks from Pakistan Army. We get inspiration and strength when we think so," the father said.

"Losing one Saurabh, though physically only, we got thousands of Saurabhs all over the globe. The love, respect, honour and a deep sense of belonging showered on us by innumerable persons in the last over 10 years is overwhelming.

Both father and mother are emotional over the loss but are a proud couple. In their four-bed room home, a room has been dedicated for their son. On the walls are photographs of a smiling Saurabh. Mementos, trophies and letters have also been preserved.

"Over 1.5 lakh emails and over 40,000 handwritten letters apart from people visiting or calling from India or abroad vouch for that. What more we can expect or deserve," says Kalia. "They never let us feel alone even for a moment."

According to the official figures, 527 Indian Army men lost their lives during the Kargil conflict.