Why George Fernandes also deserves credit for Hanumanthappa's gritty fight
New Delhi, Feb 11: Lance Naik Hanumanthappa might not survive his battle for life but the credit of his miraculous survival under 25 feet of snow partially goes to former defence minister George Fernandes, who himself has withdrawn from public life because of a age-related ailment.
Fernandes, now 85, had made more than 30 visits to the adverse terrains of the Siachen during his two stints as the defence minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government to express his solidarity with the jawans engaged in protecting the country's border at the world's highest battlefield to boost them. He made it a point to visit the area every six months and oversee the situation. The former minister would also spend time with the troops and share snacks with them and the latter, too, enjoyed his company.
It was during his frequent visits to Siachen that Fernandes had focussed on the comfort of the jawans who lived in those conditions to serve their motherland. The humanitarian task undertaken by Fernandes to provide equipment to aid the soldiers in the form of modern and life-saving wearables and supply of fresh food items that helped them survive the freezing conditions. It won't be an exaggeration to give some credit to Fernandes for Hanumanthappa's survival under snow for six days.
Fernandes even had to take on defence ministry officials while taking the initiative to improve the lifestyle of the soldiers in Siachen. He had asked the officials to experience the conditions in Siachen themselves and succeeded in sending them there too.
Hanumanthappa could not win his final battle. Fernandes, too, is fighting his own battle against age. But somewhere, they have been united by their determination and grit of not losing till the last.