‘Lest we forget’
Ladakh is not just a location on world map for travelers to visit, but a shrine which has witnessed the sacrifices of countless war heroes who died defending the battle posts during 1948, 1962, 1965, 1971 and 1999. No one knows about Major Shaitan Singh and his troops who were pitted against 1000’s of Chinese soldiers at Rezang la in 1962. Has anyone heard of Famagusta tank which was used by 2nd Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal in 1971 war? Very few know of Yogendra Singh Yadav’s dare devilry in Kargil war of 1999 where he battled the invaders and survived despite getting hit with 14 bullets.
The Brave (Paramvir Chakra stories) penned by Author Rachna Bisht Rawat is a tribute to the war heroes who were bestowed with the highest honour – Paramvir Chakra, a honor every soldier aspires for. I really appreciate the efforts of Rachna Bisht Rawat for coming up with this book on Indian army and the unconditional sacrifices the soldiers made while defending for our borders. The author has recorded every event of wars starting from 1948, 1962 to 1971 and the 1999 Kargil war. Every single story of soldier is inspiring. Whether it is story of Jadunath Singh who battled against 100’s of soldiers in Indo-Pak war of 1948 or the courage of Flying officer Nirmaljit Singh Sekhon who destroyed the enemy’s war planes in 1971, every soldier is a legend in his own.
Through this book, the author has highlighted the emotions of soldiers during the war front. Far from home, these home-sick soldiers battle every adversity – chilling cold, scorching heat, hunger and melancholy. When we watch cricket matches, we cheer for our players, showing our patriotism and excitement. But for these heroes, there is no one to cheer up. On the contrary, soldiers are labeled as killing machines by politicians and media. No one knows the inside story of soldiers stationed at war posts. Here movie heroes earn crores of rupees while on other side, the war heroes even don’t get sweaters and food rations during peak times. During Kargil war, Captain Manoj Pandey was more concerned about ammunitions than food rations.He was ready to face hunger but couldn’t see any soldier dying due to lack of ammunition. Such was the fervor of Captain Manoj Pandey.
History is witness that every soldier has taken bullet on his heart to save his comrades and one such soldier was Captain Vikram Batra. Risking his own life, he entered crossfire to rescue one of the young soldiers from his team. Captain Vikram took bullet on his chest for sake of friendship and humanity. Very few have the guts to do that.
The survivors of Rezang la war in 1962 are the witness to the horrifying aftermath which left the Indian soldiers dead on the battlefield. Even in death, the soldiers lay motionless holding weapon in their hands. These fallen heroes are forgotten. No one cares to know about the families of soldiers.
I am hopeful that at least one person will take a time out to read this article on a soldier who is posted on a battle front, guarding the Indian post without blinking an eye.
After writing this article, I will definitely travel to the freezing landscapes of Ladakh and pay respects to the forgotten war heroes. In the mountains of Kargil, I want to hear the echo of Captain Vikram Batra’s victory signal – ‘Yeh Dil Maange More’.
Irony is that our soldiers will be forgotten and so will be my story on these war heroes.