By Himanshu Guru: If the civilians enjoy a peaceful sleep, it is due to the sacrifices made by the soldiers, who fight on behalf of their fellow countrymen to save their nation. Hence, it is the utmost need on the part of the government to see that issues and demands related to the brave martyrs of War should be given top priority. But the government’s apathy towards Kargil martyr Lt Saurabh Kalia disheartens the whole country.
Captain Saurabh Kalia of the 4 Jat Regiment, was the first Army officer to report the incursion by the Pakistani Army on Indian soil during the Kargil War in 1999. Deceased Kalia was on a patrol of the Bajrang Post in the Kaksar sector of Jammu and Kashmir along with his five soldier colleagues – Arjun Ram, Bhanwar Lal Bagaria, Bhika Ram, Moola Ram and Naresh Singh.
Initially, with little knowledge of the nature or extent of the infiltration, the Indian troops in that area assumed that the infiltrators were jihadis and estimated that they would evict them within a few days.
But when subsequently infiltrations were discovered elsewhere along the LOC, then only the Indian army could realize that the plan of attack was on a much bigger scale. During this ingress, the total area seized is generally accepted to between 130 to 200 square kilometers.
On 15 May 1999, Lt Kalia along with his team, acted on a tip-off by a local shepherd in the Batalik sector and moved forward to exposure the infiltration by the enemies. On the day Lt Kalia and his team was taken captive by Pakistani troops. They were encircled and captured by Pakistani troops and were tortured continuously for 22 days before being killed. Their mutilated bodies were handed over to the Indian authorities on June 9.
Dr. N.K. Kalia, father of Lt Kalia, who along with his wife has raised a lone war for a demand of justice for his deceased son, told a leading magazine that “They indulged in dastardly acts of burning bodies with cigarettes, piercing ears with hot rods, removing eyes before puncturing them, breaking most of the bones and teeth, chopping off various limbs and private organs of these soldiers besides inflicting unimaginable physical and mental tortures.”
Dr. Kalia has argued that sacrificing the life fighting against the enemies in a war for the nation is an honor every soldier would love to do but the treatment given to these brave sons of India is not acceptable. Again, Saurabh Kalia was captured as a prisoner of war but was killed in a frightening manner in violation of the Geneva Convention.
Hence, parents of Lt. Kalia wanted that the torture of their son be declared a war crime and so urged Indian government to seek Pakistan to apologize. But despite his appeals, Indian government did nothing big in this matter, for which finally after 13 years they moved to the Supreme Court of India for justice.
Dr NK Kalia has approached the apex court with the appeal that the court directs the Central government to move to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against Pakistan. In the petition filed through his advocate, Dr. Kalia has alleged that despite making several representations to the government no steps have been taken to raise the killing at the ICJ.
External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid described the incident to be an extremely distressing event and such violations are completely unacceptable even in times of war.
The then External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh condemned the incident and reportedly said, “I was personally anguished. As a former soldier, I felt my body had been violated. This is totally unacceptable.”
However, the government’s apathy in this sensitive issue is a matter of regret. Though at times the government claims that efforts are made in this context, but the output is nothing. Hence, demand of Dr. Kalia seems very much justified that the apex court should seek the Indian government to approach the ICJ in this matter. The victim’s father has further suspected that no parent would think to send their wards to the armed forces if the rights regarding the Prisoners of War (POW) will not be safeguarded.
The matter is an extremely sensitive one and need to be given top priority by the Supreme Court as well as the government, as the whole country is waiting to see what Indian government is going to do to provide justice to the parents of the deceased soldier in this context. The solution of this case will be an answer to the whole community of people, who want to admit themselves and their wards in the Military to serve the country as soldiers.