The Operation Vijay, popularly known as the Kargil War took place in the months of May and June in the year 1999. The operation was one of its kind primarily because it was fought on one of the world’s highest battlegrounds and Indian Army was situated in a comparatively lower altitude posing a great challenge in itself. Such was the nature of the war that the senior Army Officials knew from its initial stages that there will be heavy causalities. The Kargil War brought the best out of our troops and a number of Army Officers were martyred. One such martyr was Captain Saurabh Kalia, his is a story of raw courage and sacrifice and at the same time it continues to haunt us for it narrates acts of extreme torture and inhuman treatment by the Pakistani insurgents further aggravated by blatant inaction on the part of our Government for almost two decades.
Captain Saurabh Kalia was the first Indian Army Officer to observe and report intrusion of Pakistani Army troops into the Indian side of the Line of Control when he had gone for a routine patrol of the Bajrang Post in the Kaksar Sector with five other soldiers. Captain Saurabh Kalia took guard of the ‘Bajrang Post’ and he along with his troops went out of ammunition after continuous cross fire with the Pakistani Army after which they were encircled and captured by the Pakistan Army.
Thereafter, Captain Saurabh Kalia and his troops were held as captives for a period of over 20 days by the insurgents and then shot dead after which their bodies were handed over by the Pakistani Army. The Post Mortem examinations made certain startling revelations that shook the heart of every ordinary citizen of India.
It was observed that Captain Saurabh Kalia and the other troops had been subjected to inhuman treatment; their bodies were burnt with burning cigarettes, piercing their ear drums with iron rods, puncturing their eyes and removing them, breaking most of their bones and tooth and chopping off their limbs and genitals. It was also revealed that the injuries were inflicted before the death of the martyrs.
The nature of the act was such that it should have been taken up with the UNHRC given that it definitely constitutes a grave violation of the Geneva Convention on war crimes but the Government has unabashedly remained in hibernation mode for the last 17 years and in reply to a question by M.P. Rajeev Chandrashekhar, the then Defence Minister ruled out any possibility of taking up the matter on an international forum claiming that India was bound by the Simla Agreement whereby India and Pakistan are supposed to settle all their issues ‘bilaterally’.
The spirit of settling issues bilaterally vanishes into thin air every time Pakistan makes desperate efforts of internationalizing the Kashmir issue and the myth of the binding Simla Agreement gets busted. Thereafter, the NDA Government has also given a cold shoulder to this issue and challenged the PIL filed by N.K. Kalia, the father of Captain Saurabh Kalia, claiming that a petition cannot interfere with the foreign policy of the Government.
The Pakistan Government has on the other hand has in a typical Pakistani manner unabashedly denied the reports of blatant torture of Captain Saurabh Kalia and other troops claiming their death seemed to have been caused by adverse weather even as one of their former Army Officers somehow went on to speak the truth of inhuman treatment meted out with the martyred Captain in one of his interviews.
Today is the 17th death anniversary of Captain Saurabh Kalia. It is a matter of disgust and shame that even after 17 years of their tragic death, Captain Saurabh Kalia and other troops have been devoid of justice and in fact the Government does not seem to have taken any concrete step in order to bring the coward conspirators behind their deaths to justice despite all the efforts which have been made by Captain Kalia’s family.
The political leaders have been rightly defined as ‘spineless’ by the father of the martyred Captain and we as ordinary citizens also appear to be a set of self conscious thankless people. While the Government has betrayed Captain Saurabh Kalia and the other troops, the citizens for whom they made unthinkable sacrifices and went through extreme torture have unabashedly ignored them.
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