Even as "justice" continues to elude Capt Saurabh Kalia, an army officer who died 16 years ago during the Kargil War while being held as a prisoner of war (POW) by the Pakistani security forces, the country's citizens do not appear to have given up on his cause.
An online petition initiated by NK Kalia, father of the slain soldier, urging the Indian government to take Pakistan to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague for allegedly torturing and killing his son, has drawn an overwhelming response from netizens.
The petition, addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj has collected over 12,000 signatories within four days, about 2,000 shy of the target to reach 15,000 people.
The appeal was posted on change.org after the BJP-led central government refused to move the ICJ against Pakistan but bowed to public and media pressure and changed its stance, stating it was willing to approach the world court as "there were
exceptional circumstances" in Saurabh Kalia's case.
"We urge young people of the country to show support and urge the government to take up Capt Kalia's case at the International Court of Justice at The Hague and put pressure on the Pakistani government to apologise for the incident that defied all norms of the Geneva Convention," the petition reads, adding "I want the killers of Saurabh Kalia and the soldiers who lost their lives in the Kargil War to be identified, charged and punished for this inhuman crime."
"I feel quite emboldened with the enormous public support I've received during the long drawn struggle to get justice for my son," said Kalia, a retired scientist who worked at the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). "I'm thankful to people in this country who have stood with us for 16 long years, supporting our cause and making us smile in painful times."
Apart from the response on the new petition, Capt Kalia's father has so far received over 2 lakh emails and thousands of handwritten letters.
"I don't have a count of the people who have visited us from India as well as abroad," said Kalia adding, "People at change.org had encouraged me to launch the petition a few days after the issue was again highlighted in the media. Seeing such huge support my resolve to continue the struggle with greater intensity was strengthened," he added.
Saurabh Kalia was captured by Pakistan troops and allegedly subjected to torture during the 1999 Kargil war. His mutilated body was later sent to his family members after 15 days. Kalia has been fighting long drawn battle to get "justice" to his son. The matter is also pending in the Supreme Court of India.