Each year around this time, over the past decade, we are urged to remember Kargil.
To mourn, pay homage, and remember the brave souls who were killed or maimed while evicting Pakistani intruders from the rocky, icy heights of Indian soil.
People like young Captain Saurabh Kalia and five other soldiers who were captured by the ‘peace loving’ Pakistani forces on May 15, 1999, and brutally tortured for 22 long days before they were shot, and their mutilated corpses delivered to India.
People like Squadron Leader Ajay Ahuja, whose MiG was shot down over Indian soil on May 27, 1999, and who was used for target practice by brave Pakistani soldiers after he bailed out and opened his parachute. He had celebrated his 36th birthday just four days earlier.
Here’s what an Indian Ministry of External Affairs press release dated May 30, 1999, said: “The Deputy High Commissioner of Pakistan was summoned to South Block today. A strong protest was lodged about the brutal shooting of IAF Squadron Leader Ajay Ahuja by his captors, as evident from the post-mortem report. It was conveyed that Government of India strongly condemns this act of cowardice and savagery and expects that those who are guilty of shooting Squadron Leader Ahuja in cold blood will be prosecuted by the Government of Pakistan for murder and punished.”
I remember the press conference held by then defence minister Jaswant Singh at New Delhi’s Shastri Bhawan soon after the post mortem on the mutilated bodies of Captain Kalia and his men. Even his famed baritone voice faltered when he tried to describe the torture inflicted on the men, captured while on a patrol in Kargil.
“The postmortem revealed that the Pakistan army had indulged in the most heinous acts; of burning their bodies with cigarettes, piercing ear-drums with hot rods, puncturing eyes before removing them, breaking most of the teeth and bones, chopping off various limbs and private organs of these soldiers besides inflicting all sorts of physical and mental tortures before shooting them dead, as evidenced by the bullet wound to the temple,” says Wikipedia. All this over 22 days.
Captain Kalia, promoted on the battlefield, had not even received his first paycheck from the army.
On June 12, Jaswant Singh met Pakistan’s foreign minister ‘Janab Sartaj Aziz,’ in New Delhi, at the latter’s request.
“Essentially, I made just two points,” Singh said later. “Firstly, vacation of aggression in Kargil and secondly inhuman treatment of Indian soldiers in Pakistani custody.”
The “sanctity of the LoC must be restored and respected. I also specifically demanded that those responsible for perpetrating barbaric action of torture and of killing of Indian soldiers when in captivity must be brought to justice,” he declared grandly.
Imagine how our men on the front felt when on July 9, they were told to stand down.
To allow the people who had killed over 500 of their colleagues and injured another 2,000 or more— to walk away back across the border, to laugh and boast about the “lesson” they had taught the Indian army.
It’s been 11 years since.
Forget prosecution, not one of the Pakistani soldiers responsible for these heinous acts has even been officially identified. Perhaps many of them were quietly given medals for their acts of supreme bravery.
For 11 years now, Captain Kalia’s father has been desperately pleading for his son’s post mortem from the government, so that he can petition the UN to declare it a War Crime. In vain.
All he has is a death certificate, which is gory enough in it’s detail.
Imagine how he felt when instead of arresting him, the Indian government actually allowed the man who revels in being called ‘The Architect of Kargil’, to deliver a keynote address at a conference in New Delhi.
Here are some of the gems from that speech (external link: video) by former Pakistani dictator and president General Pervez Musharraf, delivered at the Taj Palace Hotel, New Delhi, March 7, 2009:
‘In the few years of rapprochement during my tenure at the helm of affairs in Pakistan, our relations indeed were the best ever.,’
‘There is a dire need of an attitudinal change at both ends—more in India, less in Pakistan’
‘India has to show magnanimity and humility; one cannot be a large country with a small heart.’
Is this the land that Captain Kalia gave his life for?
Is this how we should remember Kargil?
Also see: The murder before Kargil | Downhill from Kargil |The rocky road to Kargil | Special: Kargil, 11 years after
External Link - The Exile: Kargil War as Ice Capades
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