Monday, 22 July 2013


                      Here are the stories of great heroes who sacrificed their lives in the Kargil War.
                      Captain Saurabh Singh (1976 – 1999) was an officer of the Indian Army who died during the Kargil War while being held as a prisoner of war by the Pakistani security forces. He along with five other soldiers of his patrolling team was captured alive and kept in captivity where they were tortured and their bodies mutilated.


                       Saurabh was born on 30 June 1976 at Amritsar, India to Mrs. Vijay and Dr. N.K. Kalia. His schooling took place in the Kendriya Vidyalaya,Holta Camp Palampur. Saurabh graduated in (B.Sc. Med.) from H. P. Agricultural University, Palampur, Himachal Pradesh in 1997. He excelled at school, securing first Division and winning scholarships throughout his academic career.


                      He was selected in the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun in August 1997 through Combined Defense Services and was commissioned on December 12, 1998. His first posting was in the 4 JAT Regiment (Infantry) in the Kargil Sector. Saurabh arrived there in mid-January, 1999 after reporting at the JAT Regimental Centre, Bareilly on 31 December 1998.


                      In the first two weeks of May 1999, several patrols were conducted in the Kaksar Langpa area of Kargil to check whether the snow had retreated enough for the summer positions to be re-occupied. He was the first Indian army officer to observe and reported large-scale intrusion of Pakistani Army and foreign mercenaries in Indian side of the Line of Control (LOC) at Kargil. He assumed guard of "Bajrang Post" at the height 13,000-14,000 feet to check infiltration in the Kaksar area.
                              On May 15, 1999 Saurabh Kalia along with five soldiers - Sepoys Arjun Ram, Bhanwar Lal Bagaria, Bhika Ram, Moola Ram and Naresh Singh of the 4 Jat Regiment had gone for a routine patrol of the Bajrang Post in the Kaksar sector in the rugged, treeless Ladakh mountains. After a continuous cross fire with Pakistan armed forces from across the LOC, he and his troops ran out of ammunition. They were finally encircled by a platoon of Pakistan rangers and captured alive before any Indian reinforcement could reach for their help. No trace of this entire patrol was left meanwhile Radio Skardu of Pakistan announced that Lt. Saurabh Kalia had been captured by the Pakistani troops. It was after this that India discovered hundreds of guerrillas had established fortified positions on the peaks of the hills deep inside the Indian side of the Line of control, with sophisticated equipment and supply lines back to Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.
                             Captain Kalia and his men were in captivity for over twenty-two (May 15, 1999 – June 7, 1999) days and subjected to torture as evident from their bodies handed over by Pakistan Army on June 9, 1999. The postmortem revealed that the Pakistan army had tortured their prisoners by burning their bodies with cigarettes, piercing ear-drums with hot rods, puncturing eyes before removing them, breaking most of the teeth and bones, fractures of the skull, cutting the lips, chipping of nose, chopping off limbs and private organs of these soldiers besides inflicting all sorts of physical and mental tortures and finally shooting them dead, as evidenced by the bullet wound to the temple. The postmortem report also confirmed that injuries were inflicted ante-mortem (before death).
                            On June 9, 1999, NK Kalia had received the body of his son, Captain Saurabh Kalia, handed over by the Pakistani army to Indian army commanders at the Kargil sector, with evidence of torture.


                           On 15 June 1999 The Deputy high commissioner of the Pakistani Embassy in New Delhi was summoned and a notice for the breach of the Geneva Convention was submitted for the torture and killing of the prisoners of War during the Kargil War. The minister of external affairs Jaswant Singh raised the issue with Sartaj Aziz, the foreign minister of Pakistan for the identification and punishment of the guilty, but Pakistan continues to deny the charges of torture.
                                 On 14 December 2012 Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik expressed that Captain Kalia may have died because of weather conditions. He said that he came to know about Captain Saurabh Kalia's case very recently, and added that it is not known whether he was killed with the Pakistani bullet or he died because of the weather. He also said he would like to meet Captain Kalia's father to find out what exactly had happened with his son. The same day, the Supreme Court issued notice to the Centre and sought response within ten weeks on a petition filed by Captain Kalia's father N.K. Kalia.


                              Moved by the torture meted out to his son by Pakistan army, N.K. Kalia launched a struggle to declare the act a war crime. Kalia wrote a series of letters to the then Minister for External Affairs Jaswant Singh.
                              Even after more than a decade since their son's death, the Kalia family has been trying to get justice from the government and to highlight the war crimes that were committed against their son and other Indian soldiers. N.K. Kalia, his father has been following his son's case and wants the act to be declared a war crime by the UN, and the people responsible for the war crimes punished as per the rulings of the Geneva Convention. However, numerous letters to the Centre have failed to move the government to pursue the matter with the world body. Five other soldiers were tortured and killed along with Capt Kalia. "I am ashamed of being an Indian. The country has spineless leaders," said N.K. Kalia. He also started an online signature campaign to highlight the plight of the war victims.
                            His father approached various national and international organizations to put pressure on Pakistan to identify, book and punish the persons responsible for the inhuman and unpardonable crime of keeping his son in captivity for three weeks and subjecting to unprecedented brutal torture as evident from his body. But in spite of his efforts he is yet to achieve a fruitful result. N.K. Kalia said that if such events had happened to an American or Israeli soldier then the culprits would have been hounded around the globe. Despite assurances from the government, the case is still pending and his family plans to pursue the case till the end.
                       N.K. Kalia's petition was pursued by Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Member of Parliament who wrote to the External Affairs Minister and raised questions in Parliament on why the Government has not taken up the case of Capt. Saurabh Kalia with the UN Human Rights Council, to declare this act as a war crime, and identify and punish all the perpetrators.
                       "In order to declare a war crime, the ministry of defence needs to write to the ministry of external affairs, which then takes up the matter with the UN Human Rights Council. The council then refers the matter to the General Assembly, which can declare war crime. It then goes to the international court of justice. It is the ministry of external affairs that did not follow up the case with the UN" said Colonel (retd) SK Aggarwal, former judge advocate general (JAG) officer.
                         N.K. Kalia, along with Rajeev Chandrasekhar, and the Flags of Honour Foundation, an organisation dedicated to building ceaseless engagement between society and the families of our martyrs, filed a petition with the United Nation Human Rights Council (UNHRC) against war crimes and the torture inflicted on Captain Kalia and five jawans by Pakistani forces during the Kargil war in 1999. The petition was filed on December 7, 2012, with Juan E. Mendez, Special Rapporteur on Torture, of the Office of High Commissioner of Human Rights in Geneva. The Indian External Affairs Ministry said it would look at the nature of the petition, as the UNHRC is an inter-state body and usually acts only in terms of initiatives taken by its member states.


Saurabh Kalia's personal belongings such as photographs, uniforms, shoes and mementoes are kept in a separate room, named as ‘Saurabh Smriti Kaksha’ (a museum), in his house 'Saurabh Niketan' in the hills of Palampur.
In his memory the government of the state of Himachal Pradesh has raised a memorial park named as ‘Saurabh Van Vihar’ in an area of 35 acres (140,000 m2) in Palampur and renamed a street in the town as Capt Saurabh Kalia Marg and the locality as 'Saurabh Nagar'. A nursing college in the proposed Vivekanand Medical Research Trust Hospital in Palampur has been raised in his memory. In Amritsar, Kaliya's birthplace his statue has been erected in a memorial.

Captain Vikram Batra PVC (September 9, 1974 – July 7, 1999) was an officer of the Indian Army, posthumously awarded the Param Vir Chakra, India's highest award for valour, for his actions during the 1999 Kargil War in Kashmir between India and Pakistan.
Vikram Batra was born on September 9, 1974 in Ghuggar village near Palampur, Himachal Pradesh, to G.L. Batra and Jai Kamal Batra. He studied in Army Public School, Dhaula Kuan . After his 16th attempt in SSB he got selected to join the Indian Military Academy in Dehradun in 1996 in Jessore company of Manekshaw Battalion, and was commissioned in the Indian Army as a Lieutenant of the 13 Jammu & Kashmir Rifles at Sopore, in Jammu and Kashmir. He rose to the rank of Captain.
Captain Vikram Batra, 13 JAK Rifles, and his Delta Company was given the task of recapturing Point 5140. Nicknamed Sher Shah ('Lion King') in Hindi for his courage, he decided to lead the rear, as an element of surprise would help stupefy the enemy. He and his men ascended the sheer rock-cliff, but as the group neared the top, the enemy pinned them on the face of the bare cliff with machine gun fire. Captain Batra, along with five of his men, climbed up regardless and after reaching the top, hurled two grenades at the machine gun post. He single-handedly killed three enemy soldiers in close combat. He was seriously injured during this, but insisted on regrouping his men to continue with the mission. Inspired by the courage displayed by Captain Batra, the soldiers of 13 JAK Rifles charged the enemy position and captured Point 5140 at 3:30 a.m. on 20 June 1999. His company is credited with killing at least eight Pakistani soldiers and recovering a heavy machine gun.
The capture of Point 5140 set in motion a string of successes, such as Point 5100, Point 4700, Junction Peak and Three Pimples. Along with fellow Captain Anuj Nayyar, Batra led his men to victory with the recapture of Point 4750 and Point 4875. He was killed when he tried to rescue an injured officer during an enemy counterattack against Point 4875 in the early morning hours of 7 July 1999. His last words were, "Jai Mata Di." (which means "Victory to the Mother Durga!" in Punjabi).
For his sustained display of the most conspicuous personal bravery and leadership of the highest order in the face of the enemy, Captain Vikram Batra was awarded the Param Vir Chakra, India's highest military honor on 15 August 1999, the 52nd anniversary of India's independence. His father Mr. G.L. Batra received the honor for his deceased son from the President of India, the late K.R. Narayanan.
  • A hall is made in the name of Capt.Vikram at Service Selection Center Allahabad (14 SSB) named as Vikram Batra Block.
  • When Gen. V.P.Malik met Mr. G.L.Batra after the martyrdom of Capt. Vikram Batra, he said, 'Had this kid returned from Kargil, he would be sitting at my post in 15 years.'



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