I'm a Goan woman, working in Mumbai as the founder of a studio called Totem Creative. I try to make the world happier, safer and more meaningful. I believe education, knowledge and awareness, art, writing and creating Social Impact are my means to achieve that end.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Indians, I beg you to read this

Dear Sir/Madam,

I beg you to spare 5 minutes from your busy schedule to read this, the plea of a bereaved but proud father. My son, Lt. Saurabh Kalia of the 4 JAT Regiment of the Indian Army laid down his life at the young age of 22 for the nation while guarding the frontiers at Kargil.

We, his parents, the Indian Army and indeed, the nation itself, lost a dedicated, honest and brave son. He was the first officer to detect and inform his superiors about the Pakistani intrusion. Pakistan captured him and his patrol party of 5 brave men alive on May 15, 1999 from the Indian side of the LOC. They were kept in captivity for 3 weeks and
subjected to unprecedented and brutal torture, evident from their bodies, which were handed over by the Pakistan Army on June 9, 1999.

While trying to extract information, the Pakistanis had indulged in dastardly acts with these Indian officers - inflicting cigarette burns on their bodies, piercing their ears with hot rods, puncturing and gouging out their eyes and breaking most of their bones and teeth. Some of the boys' limbs and private organs had been chopped off.

After 22 days of unimaginable physical and mental torture, the brave soldiers were summarily shot dead. A detailed post-mortem report is with the Indian Army. Pakistan dared to humiliate India this way, flouting all international norms and proving to what extent they could go to degrade humanity. However, the Indian soldiers did not break while undergoing this incredible barbarism, which speaks volumes for their patriotism, grit, determination, tenacity and valour - something all of India should be proud of.

Sacrificing oneself for the nation is an honour every soldier would be proud of, but no parent, army or nation can accept what happened to these brave sons of India. I am afraid every parent may now think twice before sending their child with pride into the armed forces if we all fall short of our duty in safeguarding the rights of prisoners of war and let them meet the fate of my son Lt. Saurabh Kalia and his comrades.

It may also send a demoralising signal to the army personnel fighting for the nation that our POWs in Pakistan cannot be relatively safe and within the norms of protocol. It is a matter of shame and disgust that most Indian human rights organisations by and large showed apathy in this matter.

Through this humble submission, I appeal to all civilized people irrespective of colour, caste, region, religion and political lineage to rouse their conscience and rise to make this a national issue. International human rights organizations must be approached to expose and pressurise Pakistan to identify, book and punish all those who perpetrated this heinous crime against our men in uniform. If Pakistan is allowed to go unpunished in this case, we can only imagine the consequences.

Yours truly,

Dr. N.K. Kalia (Lt. Saurabh Kalia's father).
Saurabh Nagar,
Palampur 17061,
Himachal Pradesh
Tel: +91 (01894) 32065

Below is the list of 5 other soldiers who preferred to die for the country rather than open their mouths to the enemy:

Sep. Arjun Ram
S/o Sh. Chokka Ram,
Village & PO Gudi,
Teh. & Dist. Nagaur,

Sep. Bhanwar Lal Bagaria
H/o Smt. Santosh Devi,
Village Sivelara,
Teh.& Dist. Sikar,

Sep. Bhikaram
H/o Smt. Bhawri Devi,
Village Patasar,
Teh. Pachpatva, Dist.Barmer,

Sep. Moola Ram
H/o Smt. Rameshwari Devi,
Village Katori,
Teh. Jayal, Dist. Nagaur,

Sep. Naresh Singh
H/o Smt. Kalpana Devi,
Village Chhoti Tallam,
Teh. Iglab, Dist.Aligarh,

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