By Ila Garg
Kargil War Heroes – Part 7
Captain Saurabh Kalia would have been 39 years old today. But he chose otherwise. His tale is heart-rending. He was subjected to the most brutal form of torture by the Pakistan Army. Even after 16 years, his parents continue to seek justice for him. How can our country afford to be this heartless?
He was a brave son of this nation and he proved to be extraordinary. Born in Amritsar, he was the son of Mrs. Vijaya and Dr. N. K. Kalia. He was a brilliant student and was selected in Indian Military Academy in 1997. Later, he was commissioned in December 1998. His first posting was in the 4 JAT Regiment in the Kargil Sector, along with five other soldiers – Arjun Ram, Bhikha Ram, Bhanwar Lal Bagaria, Moola Ram and Naresh Singh.
Capt. Saurabh Kalia was the first Indian army officer to observe and report large-scale intrusion of Pakistani Army and foreign mercenaries on the Indian side of the Line of Control (LoC) at Kargil. On May 15, 1999, he and his men got engaged in a continuous cross fire with the Pakistan Army across the LoC. After running out of ammunition, they were encircled by a platoon of Pakistani rangers and subsequently, captured alive.
For 22 days (May 15, 1999 – June 7, 1999), they were held in captivity where they were exposed to third-degree torture. On June 9, 1999, their bodies were sent back to India with their eardrums pierced with hot rods, eyes punctured and removed, most of the teeth and bones broken, and limbs and genitals cut or chopped off. This created widespread stir among the denizens as these prisoners of war were treated in violation to the Geneva Convention on treatment of war prisoners.
The Deputy High Commissioner of the Pakistani Embassy in New Delhi was summoned on June 15, 1999, and a notice of breach of the Geneva Convention was submitted for the torture and killing of the prisoners of war. The Minister of External Affairs Jaswant Singh raised the issue with Sartaj Aziz, the Foreign Minister of Pakistan for the identification and punishment of the guilty, but Pakistan continued to deny all the charges. On top of it, Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik went on record to say that Capt. Saurabh Kalia and others died because of extreme weather conditions.
However, just like yesterday's news dies out today, he was forgotten by the nation. But his father continues to hold on to the lamp alone for the past 16 years.
Captain's family kept trying for justice in this case. His father wants the act to be declared a war crime by the UN and is leaving no stone unturned to get the people responsible for the war crimes punished. However, the government seems to be unperturbed even after numerous letters to the Centre to pursue the matter with the world body.
Britain: We are seeking from the Indian Army a full report of the post-mortem, unfortunately without any success so far.
Israel: Israel does not have diplomatic relations with Pakistan.
Germany: They had contacted the ministry of external affairs and had not received a reply.
Pakistan denied the torture of the six soldiers and rejected India's demand to punish the guilty.
Even after selflessly sacrificing his life for the nation at an age of 22, there are chances that Capt. Saurabh Kalia might never get the justice that he deserves. The government won't want Kashmir being dragged in UN court after all. The Modi government has thus decided to bury the case completely as they don't want their relations with the "neighbouring country" being hampered because of this. In an official statement, the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said that the government had "conventionally held the position that India and Pakistan cannot invoke the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice in relation to disputes concerning armed conflicts, hostilities etc. and as they are both members of the Commonwealth".
A year ago, a YouTube video of a Pakistani soldier admitting that the 32-year-old Indian Army officer was tortured and killed during the 1999 Kargil war, went viral but all the efforts seem to be going in vain.
"I am ashamed of being an Indian. The country has spineless leaders," said N. K. Kalia. Recently, he has filed a petition in his pursuit of justice. Following the petition filed by his father, N. K. Kalia, the Supreme Court issued a notice to the Centre to seek a response within ten weeks.
He fought bravely, risking his life, leaving his family behind and yet, this is what he got in return. We're a population of approximately 1.252 billion. Can't we come together to do our bit for our soldiers? Are we so thankless? To support a father's fight for justice, you can sign the online petition here: http://chn.ge/1HpuRwr
Some personal belongings of Capt Saurabh Kalia. Pictures taken at Saurabh Museum, Palampur:
More in this segment:
Kargil War Heroes – Part 1
Kargil War Heroes – Part 2
Kargil War Heroes – Part 3
Kargil War Heroes – Part 4
Kargil War Heroes – Part 5
Kargil War Heroes – Part 6
Kargil War Heroes – Part 8
Kargil War Heroes – Part 9
Kargil War Heroes – Part 10
Kargil War Heroes – Part 11
Kargil War Heroes – Part 12
Kargil War Heroes – Part 13
Kargil War Heroes – Part 14
Kargil War Heroes – Part 15