Kargil Vijay Diwas: During an assault on Tololing, lost my second-in-command in my arms: Brig Khushal Thakur - Hindustan Times
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Kargil Vijay Diwas: During an assault on Tololing, lost my second-in-command in my arms: Brig Khushal Thakur

Jul 26, 2023 12:24 AM IST

Brig Khushal Thakur, a former commanding officer during the Kargil war, reflects on the bravery of his men and the challenges they faced. He emphasizes the importance of honoring and remembering those who sacrificed their lives for the country. He also believes that patriotism goes beyond just being ready for war, but also involves contributing to nation-building.

On Kargil Vijay Diwas, HT City revisits the war with Brig Khushal Thakur, from Mandi (Himachal Pradesh), who was the then Commanding Officer of 18 Grenadiers, and recollects memories of the Kargil war:

Brig Khushal Thakur (HT Photo)
Brig Khushal Thakur (HT Photo)

“I am filled with pride as I think of all the courageous men who fought to bring glory to themselves, their paltans, and the country. I saw utmost professionalism of my men during the counter-insurgency operations,” says Brig Thakur.

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He further elaborates that it was a life-altering experience. “One of the most painful memories of the war is of an assault on Tololing as I lost my second-in-command, Lt Col R Vishwanathan, in my arms. It was like a jolt from the blue,” says Brig Thakur.

Brig Thakur (third from left) with late Lt Col R Vishwanathan (first from left) (Photo: Instagram)
Brig Thakur (third from left) with late Lt Col R Vishwanathan (first from left) (Photo: Instagram)

“But we had no time to process. When I looked around, my men were waiting for their next orders. So, I had to rise above my grief and lead them. I lost 34 of my brave comrades to the war,” he recalls.

On facing logistic challenges such as lack of equipment, high altitude warfare preparations, acclimatisation, and artillery support, he says, “The whole country was expecting us to do our job and do it well, so these adversities felt irrelevant. There was only one recurring thought: We cannot let India down.”

Talking about motivating his team, Brig Thakur says, It was important for them to feel that their leader is one of them. “So, instead of giving orders from a tent, I walked with them and we faced the barrage of bullets together. When we lost JCO Sub Randhir and operator Hav Ram Kumar, they were right beside me,” he adds.

To Brig Thakur, the best way to remember those who laid down their lives for the country during the war is to treat their families with respect and honour. “Stories of these soldiers’ heroism should be made a topic of discussion. Acknowledgment of these national heroes by including their stories in our curriculum is important as it will inspire young minds,” he says.

On the spirit of patriotism, he says, it is instinctive and cannot be forced upon someone. “It doesn’t just mean being ready to fight a war, but also to contribute towards nation building.”

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