Heart always beam with pride: Families remember Kargil soldiers

Drass (Ladakh): For Charulata Acharya, wife of Major Padmapani Acharya, it’s a pilgrimage to visit the Kargil memorial

BY and | Tuesday, 25 July, 2023

With eyes moist but heart full of pride, the families of soldiers who died in the Kargil war remembered the bravehearts on Tuesday, recalling their sacrifices while fighting Pakistani army personnel disguised as raiders.

“He did not die… he became immortal. I cannot forget the scene at our house in Lucknow when his body draped in the tricolour arrived. At least 15 lakh people joined the convoy shouting Manoj Pandey ‘Amar Rahe’ (immortal),” says Manmohan Pandey, brother of the fallen Captain Pandey.

His quote “Some goals are so worthy, it’s glorious even to fail” went on to become famous.

“Imagine, mothers were getting their children and even infants to touch his feet… the scenes from that day are etched in our memory and that day I realised how one becomes immortal,” Manmohan said.

Lt Pandey, posthumously promoted as Captain, was awarded Param Vir Chakra, country’s highest military honour for his exemplary work in the Batalik sector.

“I even flip through his personal diary today which begins with a quote of Mehmood Rampuri’s quote ‘Maut usiki jiska zamana kare afsos varna marne ke liye to Sabhi aate hain’ (death compliments only those who leave nation weeping, otherwise everyone comes here to die). My eyes are filled with tears even now,” Manmohan told PTI.

He plans to take his children to Batallik this time, he said.

“These words comforted us that he was always desperate for this chance, he always had it in him and we are nothing but proud,” he said while quoting another one liner of his brother “If death strikes before I prove my blood, I swear, I will kill death!”

For Charulata Acharya, wife of Major Padmapani Acharya, it’s a pilgrimage to visit here.

“For me and for families of war heroes, the visit to the Veer Bhoomi is an annual pilgrimage. What can be more proud that the entire nation remembers our family members fondly.

“The fact that I am not remembering him alone, fills me with both nostalgia and pride,” Charulata, who was pregnant with Aparijita, their daughter when her husband died in 1999, said.

Major Acharya, awarded with Maha Vir Chakra posthumously, laid down his life during the famous battle of Tololing.

The last letter to his father Wg Cdr Jagannath Acharya (retd) reads “Combat is an honor of a lifetime and I would not think of anything less. What better way to serve the nation.”

He requested his father to tell “a story a day from the Mahabharata to Charu so that your grandchild imbibes good values.”

Honorary Flying officer Thogiram Gogoi, father of Captain Jintu Gogoi, said “For a soldier, the chance to go to war and fight for a country, is bigger than any medal.

“Whenever we used to be worried for him he always used to say that there are so many soldiers who retire from the services waiting for this chance and he has got this chance. After 24 years, we are glad that he got this chance, that is bigger than all the medals that he has got.”

Gogoi was recalled from leave to join his unit just 12 days after his engagement.

On the intervening night of June 29/30, 1999 during “Operation Vijay”, Captain Gogoi was tasked with evicting the enemy from ridge line Kala Pathar near the Line of control in Jubar Hill area of Batalik sub-sector.

He led the troops in the face of heavy enemy fire and reached the top by first light but only to be surrounded by an enemy who asked him to surrender.

He chose to fight with valour and dignity and opened fire on the enemy, killing two enemy soldiers before making the supreme sacrifice of his life. But, before this action, he made sure that his group had taken cover for safety.

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