Pulwama hero’s widow completes mission to become an army officer

Published on May 30, 2021 02:49 AM IST

The 29-year-old officer, wife of Major Vibhuti Shankar Dhoundiyal, who was killed in an encounter with terrorists in Kashmir’s Pulwama district in February 2019, said she decided to join the army as a “true and fitting tribute” to her late husband.

Nitika Kaul (ANI Photo)
Nitika Kaul (ANI Photo)
By, Hindustan Times, Dehradun

“I could feel as if he was holding me and saying ‘yes, you did it’,” said lieutenant Nitika Kaul shortly after she was officially commissioned as an officer in the Indian Army.

The 29-year-old officer, wife of Major Vibhuti Shankar Dhoundiyal, who was killed in an encounter with terrorists in Kashmir’s Pulwama district in February 2019, said she decided to join the army as a “true and fitting tribute” to her late husband.

On Saturday, Kaul graduated from the Officers Training Academy (OTA) as a lieutenant at a low-key ceremony held in Chennai amid Covid-19 restrictions.

“Maj Vibhuti Shankar Dhoundiyal made the Supreme Sacrifice at Pulwama in 2019... Today, his wife Nitika Kaul dons Indian Army uniform, paying him a befitting tribute...” read a tweet by Defence PRO, Udhampur, on Saturday.

Kaul, who worked at a multinational corporation in Delhi, was married for under a year when Major Dhoundiyal lost his life in the Pulwama encounter. Videos circulating on social media showed her bidding an emotional goodbye to her husband at his funeral in his hometown, Dehradun.

Major Dhoundiyal was among five security personnel killed in the February 18, 2019 encounter -- in which three Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists, including two top commanders believed to be behind the Pulwama attack on a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) convoy -- were gunned down.

He was awarded the Shaurya Chakra posthumously.

After his death, Kaul cleared the Short Service Commission (SSC) exam and interview last year, and graduated on Saturday.

Lt General YK Joshi, chief of the Indian Army’s Northern Command, pipped the stars on her uniform and congratulated her on her achievement.

The young officer, whose family belongs to Kashmir but is settled in Delhi, said she was thankful to her family members and friends for believing in her.

“This wouldn’t have been possible without their support and faith. The day I stepped into the 11-month training course at OTA, I imagined the journey that Vibhu had traversed through.

“He is a part of my life and always somewhere around. Today also, I can just feel that he is holding me and saying, ‘yes, you did it,’” said Lt Kaul.

Uttarakhand chief minister Tirath Singh Rawat said: “Joining the army by Lt Nitika Kaul was not just a true tribute to her brave husband Maj Dhoundiyal who made the supreme sacrifice in Kashmir, but is also a matter of immense pride for Uttarakhand (Dhoundiyal’s home state).”

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Kalyan Das covers crime, transport, human rights and central government offices from Bhopal and Indore.

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