Three Rohtak friends who lost their lives in Kargil war
July 3, 1999: Lance Naik Vijay Singh of the 17th Jat Regiment and five other soldiers are moving towards a post on Tiger Hill in Kargil. Their aim is to retrieve the bodies of Lance Naik Krishan Pal and Lance Havildar Balwan Singh amidst heavy shelling by the Pakistanis. One of the shells lands almost directly on Singh and he dies. Singh, from Sundarpur, Pal from Titoli, and Balwan Singh of Jindran Kalan, all villages near each other in Haryana’s Rohtak district were friends who joined the army, and ended up in the same regiment. And, in a cruel twist, their Tricolour-draped coffins arrived in their respective villages around the same time.
Two decades after the Kargil war ended ( it ended on July 26 1999), Singh’s father Jeet Ram, an active 80-year old who gets around on a Bajaj Pulsar motorcycle remembers the day he got to know of his son’s death. It was July 6, 1999.
A retired jawan from the Ministry of Defence’s Sainik Board (which looks after the welfare of retired army personnel) arrived at his doorstep that day and, after asking about the family’s welfare, and sharing a cup of tea with Ram, told the latter that Singh had made the ultimate sacrifice.
“I want to thank then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ji, who sent the dead bodies of the jawans to their respective villages and towns for the first time in Indian history,” says Ram.
Ram, a retired school teacher, wanted his son to carry on in school after Class X and clear at least Class XI, but Singh was adamant about joining the army. Ram has no regrets, though.
“My two grandsons, Jogender Singh and Satender Singh have joined the army and they are serving the nation on border.”
The families of Singh and Pal knew each other well and the latter played a role in guiding the former to join the army.
Pal was serving his last posting in Kargil when he was killed. He was to retire the following month. His wife, Rajpati, 60, says she was waiting for him to retire and return home. Instead it was his coffin that arrived.
“I feel proud that my husband gave his life for the nation,” she says, but adds that while the government did help the family financially, “I lost my husband and my children, their father.” The government gave the family a petrol pump and found a job as a guard for one of Pal’s sons. Rajpati’s only wish is that the government “teach a lesson to Pakistan.” The families of Pal and Singh received the news of the deaths of the two soldiers on the same day.
Balwan Singh’s family got to know of his a day earlier. Surjmal Singh, the elder brother of Balwan Singh said the latter joined the 17- Jat regiment of Indian army after passing class 8.
“ He had a desire to don the army uniform,” said Surajmal Singh. According to him, on July 5, 1999, a resident of his village told Balwan Singh there was a call for him at the Panchayat office. It was from the army and the news wasn’t good. “On the next day, his friends Vijay Singh and Krishan Pal were martyred and a pall of gloom descended on our three adjacent villages.”
Surajmal Singh adds that the government helped his brother’s family. “His elder son Rajender Singh runs a gas agency and his younger brother works in the Haryana government.”
Some may need to be reminded that this July 26th marks the 20th anniversary of the end of the Kargil war, but the families of the three soldier friends from Rohtak need no reminding. “You’re here to talk to be because it is 20 years after Kargil,” says Ram.