Sindhu Nag Profile picture
22 Feb, 12 tweets, 4 min read
Few days from now will be the anniversary of successful Balakot Air Strike and the return of our Lion Wg Cdr Abhinandan VrC

We were overjoyed as a nation to see our hero back safe....and loved ones were reunited

The #LoveStory I am sharing though, has an uncertain ending 1/11
The year 1970. Handsome Flt Lt Vijay Vasant Tambay & lovely National Badminton Champion Damayanti were a young trailblazing couple. Both supported each others aspirations.

On this pic gifted to his wife, the Air Warrior wrote behind the now fading image these words 2/11
'Dearest Damayanti, whenever you see this photograph, our hearts will be together, regardless of the distance between us. Whether I am flying or you are thrashing your opponent 11-0 on the badminton court. Your loving husband,
Vijay. 20th October 1970

In a year, it was War 3/11
Flt Lt Vijay Tambay of 32 Sqn, ace pilot trained on Su 7 fighters in Russia, was on his 3rd mission over enemy lines. It was the 5th of Dec 1971.

His plane was shot down much like Abhinandans. Pakistan initially said among those captured was Flt Lt 'Tomboy'

Hope soared 4/11
Damayanti, Vijays mother and rest of the family waited for the war to end and Indian POWs to return. Vijay would be back soon and their dreams of a beautiful joyful life together would continue...

Since his NDA days 23 Course, Vijay was a fighter. Fit, talented, popular BCA 5/11
But that did not happen. The war ended and Pakistan said they do not have a Flt Lt Tambay as POW. Said this for many other Indian soldiers as well.

India returned 93k Pakistani POWs 7

Yet, 54 Indian braves 'Missing in Action' were forgotten in the euphoria of victory 6/11
Their families appealed to authorities, never stopped asking nor waiting... reports came about Indian POWs sighted in Pakistani jails. But all they got was delay and denial...

Soon, our brave 54 missing inaction became 'the forgotten 54'

Damayanti and others never forgot 7/11
By now 4 times national champion, she had a new fight on her young frame... to find her love and bring him back.

With families of the other MIA, demanding political and diplomatic intervention, she with few others managed 3 visits into Pakistan to 'identify' her husband
Each time they were taken to some jails where none of our braves were. Shown some prisoners who were not our soldiers. It became obvious Pakistan had no intention to return our 54 heroes

So miserable were those seen..chained, incoherent, expressionless. it was heartbreaking
On one side Damayanti the Champion, Arjuna awardee, working in JNU.... on the other side, a young wife, waiting with hope for her husband to just come home....

Today, in her early 70s, she is President of the War Widows Association, helping other Veer Naris & #VeerParivaar
Meet her and you will see the spirit, the cheer, the care and the effort she still puts into everything she does...

The love they shared continues to see her through these 50 years....

But is this not a blot on us as a nation?

I feel guilty about our forgotten 54. You? 11/11

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