As the country commemorates 20 years of victory in the Kargil War, military veterans urged Indians not to forget the sacrifices made by the bravehearts and that the military ought to keep learning from past mistakes.
Air Marshal Subhash Bhojwani (Retd), who served as the Director of Air Operations (Offensive) during the Kargil War, said, “The support and attention of the civil citizens that the armed forces received during the Kargil War was enormous and certainly boosted the morale. But it is observed that such support is not always forthcoming and sustained. It will be really heartwarming if the efforts and sacrifices of the armed forces are continuously recognised and supported as against just for certain episodes.”
See photos: Photos that show how India won the battle
Air Marshal Bhojwani, who also served in the 1971 war and went on to become the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Training Command of the Air Force, added, “Such support is also called for from the government agencies. Say for example a soldier comes home on a short leave to complete a pending land issue or child’s school admission. If in such situations, if the soldier gets forthcoming support from government officials, life would become way easier. I believe that these acts would be the best possible tributes to our soldiers.”
Kargil War hero and Vir Chakra Awardee, Col Lalit Rai (Retd) commanded the First Battalion of the 11 Gorkha Rifles, which specialises in High Altitude Warfare. Col Rai, who is now based in Pune, says, “Kargil War was yet another lesson to remind us that freedom does not come cheap. Supreme sacrifices are made day in and day out to provide a safe and secure atmosphere for the citizens. As we remember the martyrs and the brave soldiers, I want to remind my fellow citizens that the victory could be achieved because we all stood united. In future, if we want to defeat the enemies, both outside and within, we will have to stand united.”
As a message to the Indian Army, Col Rai said, “As a veteran now, I can only say to my fellow soldiers that learn from the mistakes and never repeat them. Have faith in your leadership.”
Captain Saju Cherian (Retd), who was awarded Sena Medal (Gallantry) for his contribution during the Kargil War, was with the 307 Medium Regiment deployed with 14 Sikh Regiment at Chor Batla in the Batalik Sector. Capt Cherian, who is now settled in Pune and works in the corporate sector, says, “Kargil War is a message to all our adversaries. We are an army of soldiers for whom nation’s well-being and pride come before anything else. I want to specially remember and give my regards to the brave soldiers of my unit — and it is true for all other units too — who stood by me during those challenging hours. I owe my life to these unsung heroes.”
Capt Cherian also appealed to Armymen and officers currently serving, “Please continue to uphold the greatest traditions of the Army as you embrace the modern day warfare techniques. What I am today — both in my personal and professional life — I owe to the greatest institution called Indian Army.”