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Today is the 21st #KargilVijayDiwas, India's victory day in the Kargil War of 1999. We'll talk about a few names who will never be forgotten: Captain Saurabh Kalia, Captain Haneefuddin and Lt. Vijayant Thapar. (1/21)
Captain Saurabh, 'Naughty' to his family, loved to cook.He wasn't exactly an early riser. His mother, afraid that her son would get hazed in the IMA, got him an alarm clock! (2/21)
When he returned home from the #IMA he had become so thin that his friends joked, ‘Faujiyon ne toh alu chheel diya! (the Army has peeled our potato!)’. (3/21)
Proud that he was now getting a salary, he gave his mother a blank signed cheque, telling her proudly that she could withdraw money when needed. (4/21)
He last called home on 30 April 1999 to wish his younger brother on his twentieth birthday, and said he would be home for his own birthday. The family never heard from him again. (5/21)
From 15 May to 7 June 1999, Captain Saurabh and his men were kept under captivity by Pakistan. They were severely tortured. Most of their bones and teeth were broken and their bodies were deformed, before being finally shot dead. (6/21)
His younger brother later recalled that when he was called to identify his brother's body, there was almost nothing on his face except his eyebrows. (7/21)
As for the cheque he gave his mother: it remains unclaimed: Captain Saurabh was dead by the time his first salary came. (8/21)
Subsector Haneef is an icy wilderness located along the Karakoram. It honours Captain Haneefuddin, the son of a Muslim father and a Hindu mother. (9/21)
At 22, Haneef asked his mother to sign a document. When she asked what it was, he told her to sign it, not read it. It was an indemnity bond needed to join the IMA, saying she would receive nothing if he died in training. She signed it. (10/21)
Haneef lost his father at a young age. When he told his mother that he was receiving a school uniform for free since he had no father, she told him to refuse it. Years later, she would refuse the gas agency the government offered the mother of the martyr. (11/21)
On 6 June 1999, Captain Haneef volunteered to lead a daytime patrol to Karchen Glacier, to locate enemy bunkers. Although they identified bunkers on Point 5590, they were seen and fired at. Haneef and Rifleman Parvesh were hit. Subedar Mangesh fell into a crevasse. (12/21)
43 days after Haneef's death, Col. Anil Bhatia, CO of 11 Rajputana Rifles, launched #OperationAmarShaheed and recovered Haneef's and Parvesh's bodies. (13/21)
On 3 August 1999, Point 5590 was recaptured by the Indian Army. The operation to recapture it was named Operation Haneef. (14/21)
Lt. Vijayant Thapar, affectionately called 'Robin', died for his country at the age of twenty-two during an attack on Knoll, in the Drass sector. He proved to be more Batman than Robin. (15/21)
Lt. Thapar's last letter to his family speaks for itself: "I have no regrets. In fact, if I am reborn as a human I will join the army again and fight for my nation." (16/21)
In it, he wrote that expected to die, and requested that whatever organ that could be taken from his body should be donated. He also asked them to donate money to an orphanage. (17/21)
He also asked his parents to send fifty rupees every month to Ruksana, a three-year-old Kashmiri girl he had befriended. (18/21)
Lt. Thapar had one more request to make of his parents: "If you can, please come and see where the #IndianArmy fought for your tomorrow." (19/21)
Every year, Colonel (retd.) Virender Thapar, goes to this icy wasteland to honour his son's wishes. (20/21)
Countless more stories of such bravery exists. A place to start would be @rachnabisht9's 'Kargil: Untold Stories from the War.' (21/21)
Pic credits: Rediff, India Times, Indian Express
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