Pride and tears for Kargil heroes' kin
Drass: "I feel my son's absence," was
all a proud mother of Param Vir Chakra awardee Captain Mohan
Chandra Pandey could say in a choked voice as she was honoured
for his supreme sacrifice in the Kargil war 10 years ago.
Amid the majestic flypasts, singing, dancing and the
surge of patriotism associated with the euphoria of victory
day celebration, it is not just Mohini Pandey, but families of
hundreds of slain soldiers who helped defeat Pakistani forces
that are still struggling to come to terms with their loss.
"I feel my son's absence. After a glimpse of his place
of martyrdom, I feel proud," Mohini said as she was honoured
at a function here along with emotional family members of
award winning soldiers, who laid down their lives during the
war, and also the surviving awardees.
"He has made me famous by his martyrdom. I am proud of
my son. He is national hero. I miss him," Param Vir Chakra
awardee Captain Vikram Batra's father GL Batra said.
As family members of hundreds of slain soldiers
gathered here from all over the country at the invitation of
the armed forces to attend the 10th anniversary of Kargil
Vijay Diwas, many like SP Kalia are happy that the sacrifice
of their loved ones is finally getting due recognition.
"After the demise of my son it is the only happy day
of my life. I am thankful that my son is finally recognised
and remembered," said Kalia, father of Lt Saurabh Kalia who
was among the first casualties of the Kargil conflict.
The Congress has always downplayed the events to
commemorate the end of Kargil war fought under erstwhile NDA
government and it is for the first time that the Prime
Minister of the UPA coalition has attended the function this
year in the capital.
There was hardly a dry eye, as family members of the
Kargil heroes walked up to the dais to receive the mementos.
Kamla Devi, Munish Devi, Soman Yangsit, Kuldeep Kour,
who lost their husbands in the war, however, felt the
absence of the Defence Minister AK Antony and Army Chief
"We wanted them here with us," they said.
"It is not only an emotional but a moment of pride for
us. We are here to remember our brave soldiers who won us
battle," General officer commanding in Chief (GOC-In-C)
Northern command, Lt Gen PC Bhaderwaj said.
Accompanied by former army chief gen VP Malik,
Adjutant General of Army, Lt Gen Mukesh Sabherwal, Gen
Bhaderwaj as well as families of martyrs, serving officers and
awardees laid wreaths at the Vijay Dashmi memorial here amid a
majestic flypast by MiG Bison aircraft and Druva choppers and
showering of flower petals by Chetak helicopters.
A big hot air balloon flew high in the backdrop of the
memorial, located in the foot of the Tololing ridgeline in
Drass, once a battlezone where 610 officers and men, including
five Air Force personnel and two civilians, laid down their
Col Sonam Wancchuk, who was awarded with Maha Vir
Charaka (MVC), was emotional as he narrated his experience.
"It was most dangerous and difficult war. But we
fought and won it for the country. It was a proud moment for
Air Officer in Commanding (AOC), Jammu and Kashmir,
Air Marshal J Chouhan said, "It was for the first time that
the Indian Air Force was called upon to undertake live
missions at such high altitudes. A bigger challenge was non
violation of Line of Control."
Mirage-2000 aircraft carried out precision strike
missions and dropped Lager Guided Bombs (LGBs) utilising the
Laser Designated Pods (LDPs).
"These missions turned the balance of power in favour
of India. Offensive posturing by the Indian Air Force deterred
the Pakistani Air Force from intervening in this area. Indian
Air force displayed professionalism of very high order and by
July 12 almost all posts were recaptured," he said.