This is how we treat our heroes | india | Hindustan Times
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This is how we treat our heroes

Parading Param Vir Chakra awardees on Republic Day is not enough, if the armed forces fail to give them the respect and gratitude, reports Rahul Singh.

india Updated: Jan 24, 2008 02:57 IST
Rahul Singh

Merely parading Param Vir Chakra (PVC) awardees in front of the nation on Republic Day is not enough, if the armed forces fail to give them the respect and gratitude they deserve.

One such hero Rifleman Sanjay Kumar, who was awarded India’s highest military decoration for showing the highest degree of valour in the Kargil war, has had to bear the humiliation of being reverted to lower rank.

Sanjay Kumar, from 13 JAKRIF (Jammu and Kashmir Rifles), was promoted to havildar in recognition of his efforts in the heady post-Kargil days. Having proudly worn three stripes on his sleeve for over five years, Kumar will be taking part in this year’s RD parade as a one-striped lance naik.

It is learnt that Kumar had last year sought an audience with the then Army chief General JJ Singh but the issue was not resolved. Army PRO Colonel Sudhir Sakhuja told HT, “No provision exists for out-of-turn promotions of gallantry award winners.” Strangely enough, Army sources said that Kumar was “promoted at the unit level”.

It appears a hero has been disowned but Kumar’s gallantry in the war is the stuff that legends are made of. On July 4, 1999, he and his comrades were tasked with capturing Area Flat Top held by the Pakistanis. They were barely 150 metres away from the objective when heavy machine gun fire from an enemy bunker halted their advance.

Showing steely resolve and disregard of personal safety, he crawled up the ridge alone amid a hail of bullets that tore his chest and forearm apart. Bleeding, he charged at the enemy bunker and killed three enemy soldiers. Inspired by his daredevilry, the rest of the platoon captured Area Flat Top.

Rishi Dadichi donated his thighbones to the gods for making Indra’s vajra. His sacrifice is immortalised in the four replicas of the vajra on the PVC medal. But Kumar’s sacrifice appears to have been forgotten. A decorated officer said if war heroes were treated so callously, their achievements would hardly inspire soldiers. It is reliably learnt that a disillusioned Kumar plans to quit the Army.