Param Vir Chakra awardee Captain's dad salutes son's valour

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Bhopal, Jul 25 (UNI) Nine years have gone by since Indian bravehearts silenced enemy guns in the Kargil conflict, but for retired senior secondary school principal Girdhari Lal Batra pride still battles sorrow when he reminisces his son Captain Vikram Batra, who was awarded the Param Vir Chakra posthumously after Operation Vijay.

During an interaction with UNI in the run-up to Kargil Vijay Diwas, observed on July 26 every year, Palampur-resident Dr Batra quoted from the Bhagavadgita, ''Hato va prapsyasi svargam jitva va bhoksyase mahim tasmad uttistha kaunteya yuddhaya krtaniscayah.

(Either slain thou shalt go to heaven; or victorious thou shalt enjoy the Earth; therefore arise, o son of Kunti, resolved in battle).'' Capt Batra (IC 57556), an officer of the 13 JAK RIF (13th Battalion of The Jammu and Kashmir Rifles Regiment), was personally congratulated by the then Chief of Army Staff General Ved Prakash Malik over telephone for recapturing Point 5140 -- the highest peak on Tololing Ridge -- on June 20, 1999 without losing a single jawan.

On July 7, in another operation in the area of Pt 4875, Capt Batra's Delta Company was tasked to clear a narrow feature with sharp cuttings on both sides and heavily-fortified enemy defences that covered the only approach to it. It was on that day that the Captain died for his country.

''He might have been alive today had a certain Indian TV news channel not made some tactical details public. The Pakistanis were waiting for him,'' a retired brigadier alleged to UNI here.

Expresssing disagreement, Major-General (retd) M P S Kandal -- who served as the Indian Army's Additional Director-General (Operational Logistics) but retired pre-Kargil -- said, ''in hindsight one can say anything. It is very hard for media or others to draw lines of rationality in that kind of stressful situation.

The press brought awareness in every home during the Kargil conflict.'' MORE UNI AC ATI UCS1052

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