The places where moments reside

Kargill : Freedom at inhospitable terrain

Kargill , drass, batalik, kagsar – a decade ago these were just names in the Indian terrain of jammu and Kashmir and then things were never the same again. These names are now synonomous with sacrifice, honour, pride, respect earned by hard means and the supreme sacrifice of 531 brave men of the Indian army.

“ फ़ौज में कमीशन लेते वक़्त भी मैंने कसम खायी थी , इस मिट्टी की कसम भी खायी थी जिसमें खेल कर मेरा बचपन जवान हुआ है , उन 84 करोड़ भाई बहनों की भी कसम खायी थी जो मेरे साथ साथ बड़े हुए हैं और उस हिमालय की कसम भी खायी थी जो पिछले 5000 सालों से मेरे वतन की सरहदों की हिफाज़त कर रहा है ” – Sunny deol , border

What do you do when the same defenders are threatened? You answer the call against external aggression beyond your own capability. Kargill was one such “ war” which united the nation and maybe it made me what I am today – the person with a single belief “Nation first”. I remember very well that I was in class 10th when kargill happened. First of all it all seemed like the small firing which goes on between border outposts. Simply put I had no clue as to what was going on. These were just unpronounceable names to me then. Things and my world came crashing down when I first heard and read reports of soldiers returning home wrapped in tricolours. 

One thing which made my mind go into an overdrive- induction of the air force. These lethal flying machines, my biggest weakness , made me realize that something was seriously wrong. With helicopter gunships evading stinger hits, mig 21s being shot down, mirage 2000 striking ordanance at icy heights, rockets being fired in perfect harmony with the big daddy of all field guns- the 155 mm bofors shells. It was all getting messy at the most hostile of terrains. Live tv brought the images like never seen before and the first time in my life I felt my own existence threatened. It was my chemistry teacher who had asked the practical files to be covered with only newspapers. A move that I do not understand even today. 

And this image was what was there at the front of my file. 155 mm shells and rockets being fired at enemy positions at night. In my free time, whether be at the school or at home I used to just gaze at this picture and thoughts just used to flash by – whats happening to the soldiers?? will they ever return to their homes?? Will they be alive?? Will some of them be able to live their normal lives as before?? Why I am so helpless that I cant do anything for them?? Only god knows that how I spent those days and nights. When victory was achieved , I was the happiest of the lot but a firm resolve had grown in my mind – I am against every nation that’s against my country. Names aside but I don’t talk to the people from those countries even today, let alone try for friendship. Might seems to be a childish thought but that would remain with me till I live. I tried everything I could on my part – depositing all my savings into the defence fund, raising funds for the soldiers, you name it and I have done it all. Monetary part aside but I always wanted to tell the families of the martyrs one thing “ I am thankful to you and your son`s sacrifice as its because of him that I am able to breathe free air”.

I tried in vain contacting the families of the soldiers but really did not knew where to start. Then came a blessing in disguise 10 years after kargill. 

“ Mummy papa by the time you get this letter I would be observing you all from the sky enjoying the hospitality of the apsaras.” 

These famous lines are from the letter Capt. Vijyant Thapar wrote to his family before going on a mission. These remain etched in my mind all these years alongwith the famous lines during that war. In 2009 , on the occasion of the decade of kargill war, a hindi newspaper published the interview of the father of capt. Vijyant. This gave me a chance to reach out to him and I wrote a 12 line email to him ( the toughest 90 minutes of my life as my eyes would not dry up and I just kept on crying) telling him what such sacrifices meant to me. Not expecting any reply I was satisfied that I had reached out to the family of one such braveheart and let them know that supreme sacrifices do not go waste. But god had other plans, the next day I received a reply from the couple. I was overjoyed and that letter is “the most” treasured item I have in my life. My life is still going on the same mission – I wish to personally thank the families of each of the remaining 530 bravehearts.

Every night just a few lines go through my mind before sleeping . “ I am sleeping peacefully because somebody out there is waking up for me”. Its not just the infantry I am thankful to. Its every branch of the defence services to whom I cant reach out. The nation takes priority over everything for me. I guess that’s where my patriotism comes from – the gratitude towards some people. For the soldiers from me – “if you feel somewhere that you are alone and you need support, look behind and i`ll be standing behind your back”.

There are some unspoken emotions and feelings which I cant express in words. I can simply get up, salute them with utmost respect and just say ,
Kargill : Freedom at inhospitable terrain Kargill : Freedom at inhospitable terrain Reviewed by Shwetabh on 12:17:00 PM Rating: 5


  1. Dear mr shwetabh ,

    i respect your patriotism , but what have you done for your country other than " reaching out " to the families of the soldiers, fund raising , or writing a couple of blog about the country ..... 13 years could have passed and you could have become an IAS officer , scientist or start a NGO if not a fighter pilot, it would have also contributed to the country in the same way as an army officer do ..... grow up Mr Pseudo patriotic , there are n nos of way serving the country and reaching out to millions of Indians , better than writing a blog about it ..... n yes contact details of those 530 soldier can be surely achieved from ministry of defence ..... but somebody has to put an effort.... rather than just writing a blog or visiting a formula 1 race.

  2. Who so ever u are keep one thing in mind that life is all about enjoying and cherishing the little moments of happiness. be it visiting a race, or write abt is what u make out of it..and in my words serving the country doesnt mean becoming an ias and going into the admin services

  3. My fundas of serving the country are different than u and i have my own reasons for not doing certain things which better not be disclosed as u dont know me that well

  4. Great Post.
    May our policy makers can even implement some learning... !

    this is the seriousness...

    jai Hind.
    jai Hind ki sena.

  5. Dear Shwetabh,

    I spent the whole day today in going through articles on net about our gallant hero, Captain Vijayant Thapar.

    In this process, I came across your blog and then hit this particular is truly a great post

    I have to appreciate your endeavour for giving respect to our gallant soldiers, who are the true heroes.

    Kudos to you for honouring the memories of our brave soldiers, who gave their all for us.

    Every small effort in honouring our armed forces counts.

    Hence please keep up your good efforts!!