Being Women

Remembering 5 Brave Hearts On Kargil Vijay Diwas: Lest We Forget!

26th July is special in Indian History. It's celebrated as Kargil Vijay Diwas, the day Kargil was won back by our armed forces.

Every year, July 26 is celebrated as Kargil Vijay Diwas in India. This day marks the victory of India over Pakistan in the Kargil War in 1999.

The unsung war heroes: Captain Saurabh Kalia and his 5 companions

Mrs Vijay Kalia shared an anecdote with us,

“Saurabh was in 4th grade. Kapil Dev’s mother was being interviewed on TV. I was serving food and telling them, ‘Look at his mother. She is so proud of her son. Kapil Dev has achieved so much! You know…he drank only buffalo’s milk.’

Saurabh looked at me and said, ‘Faltu bhains ka doodh peeta hai. Aap dekhna. Aapko saari duniya yaad karegi. Aapka itna naam ho ga.’ Maybe he knew someday he will make us proud.” Tears glisten as she reminisced about those days.

Do you know that the war began with them?

On May 15, 1999, Saurabh Kalia, along with five soldiers—Sepoys Arjun Ram, Banwari Lal Bagaria, Bhikha Ram Moondh, Moola Ram Bidiyasar, and Naresh Singh Sinsinwar had gone for a routine patrol of the Bajrang Post in the Kaksar sector when they got caught in a continuous exchange of fire with Pakistani armed forces. Soon they ran out of ammunition and were captured alive. The unit remained untraceable till Radio Skardu of Pakistan announced the capture. It was then that India discovered hundreds of guerrillas had established fortified positions on the peaks of the hills deep inside the Indian side of the Line of Control, with sophisticated equipment and supply lines back to Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.

Captain Saurabh Kalia and his men were in captivity for over twenty-two days (May 15, 1999 – June 7, 1999) days and were subjected to unimaginable torture. The postmortem revealed that the Pakistan army had tortured them brutally. (Burnt their bodies with cigarettes, pierced eardrums with hot rods, punctured eyes before removing them, broke most of the teeth and bones, fractured the skull, cut the lips, chipped the nose, chopped off limbs and private organs besides inflicting all kinds of physical and mental torture and finally shot them dead, as evidenced by the bullet wound to the temple). The postmortem report confirmed that these injuries were inflicted ante-mortem (before death).

A heinous crime, the family of Capt Kalia and five men still await justice.

Captain Haneef Uddin, the daring son of a strong mother

COVID made us realise how impatient we are. We can’t wait to go out! We have forgotten how to wait. But there is a mother who waited forty-four days to see her son for the last time.

Mrs Hema Aziz, who is an All India Radio Vocal Artist, used to be away on official tours. Her three school-going sons stayed on their own and learned to take care of each other. Having lost their father at an early age, they grew up imbibing the values of their strong, determined mother.

On June 6, 1999, Captain Haneef Uddin volunteered to lead the special mission patrol to recapture the Turtuk sub-sector at a height of 18,500 feet, occupied by the Pakistani Army. The platoon came under enemy fire and it was the Captain who received the brunt of it. Despite the grave injury, he kept the enemy engaged till his men reached safety.

He was awarded the Vir Chakra posthumously.

It was not possible to retrieve his mortal remains immediately. It took 44 days, but his mother waited patiently. When the then Chief of Army Staff informed her that the ongoing heavy shelling was making the retrieval difficult, she had said, “Don’t risk another soldier’s life to retrieve my son’s body. Everyone fighting there is my son.”

The villagers of Turtuk sub-sector still fondly remember her second son, Captain Haneef Uddin, as their ‘Farishtey’ (angel).

Captain Amit Verma and his love for his mother

Captain Amit Verma of 9 Mahar was very close to his mother. An extremely naughty child, he was sent away to the hostel forcibly. He went on one condition. His mother would have to sit under a tree for the whole day till classes were over. He wanted her to note when the classes started and ended. One day, the hostel warden found a few ice cream boxes filled with clay in his room. When asked, Amit replied that he had collected the soil on which his mother sat every day. The box was precious as it had his mother’s smell.

The Captain moved to the Tiger Hill area with the Battalion during the Kargil War. He was tasked with holding a post at about 15,500 feet and capturing an enemy bunker with his men. While moving forward they came under heavy enemy fire. At the age of 23, Captain Verma gave his today for our tomorrow.

Captain Anuj Nayyar’s last words to his father

Fathers are the ones who stand with you when nobody else is around!

Mrs Meena Nayyar didn’t want her son to join the Indian Army. But the father, Prof. Nayyar, supported his son wholeheartedly.

Captain Anuj Nayyar made his last call to his father on the night of July 6, 1999, to inform him about his big mission in the Kargil War. His last words to his father were, “Papa aapka beta hoon. Haar ke aane ki baat soch bhi nahi sakta.”

He tells us, “On that fateful day, when the phone rang at home, I was restless and hurried to pick it up. It was from the brigade headquarters of my son. After the initial pleasantries, the man on the other side fell silent. After more than a minute of ominous silence, I managed to ask, “Did he die fighting?”

On 06 July 1999, Captain Nayyar led his platoon into the attack under heavy enemy artillery and mortar fire. Unmindful of his personal safety, he motivated his men and cleared three bunkers. While clearing the fourth, an enemy RPG shell killed him on the spot. By then he had killed nine enemy soldiers.

Captain Anuj Nayyar was honoured with the Maha Vir Chakra, posthumously. 

Captain PV Vikram: The son of a brave soldier

It’s very difficult to pretend before a father who himself was in the same unit as his brave son.

Captain PV Vikram was an artillery officer who always dealt with shells and mortars. During the Kargil War, he was deployed on Pt. 5229 top with artillery support. He was killed by an enemy artillery shell on July 2, 1999.

The second-in-command called his father and asked, “Are you the father of Captain P. V. Vikram? I am calling from the war field. Captain Vikram got injured in the war.”

The brave father of the equally brave son informed the officer, “If he is injured, you would not have called me.”

He said, “Your son got hit by an enemy shell.”

The father asked him straight away, “Is my son in one piece? Because I am in the Army, I know what happens when someone is hit by artillery shelling.”


The most common phrase used to console someone is “time heals”. But does it really heal? The loss of a son, a brother, a husband, or a father….does it ever heal? It’s been 24 years, but the wound is fresh and raw. The old parents have learned to live the rest of their lives with this irreparable loss and irreplaceable emptiness. We may not know them all. But we owe our lives today and tomorrow to each one of them.



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