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A few days ago, a very innocent question was presented before me which set me off yet again. A fire that has been burning inside me for decades, was re lit and started to acquire proportions that often render me speechless

“Dadi, why have the heroes of our earlier wars, like Chinese India conflict of 1962, remained unsung and unacknowledged..forgotten and no one even thinks of them at all. Whereas some like Abhinandan, who , no doubt, very valorous, came back HOME to his parents and family. What about those who never came back and fought with more valor than is ever acknowledged.”??

What answer could have been said to this young person?, who is greatly media and net savvy…and abreast with the way the world functions today… and socially active as well. These children don’t know what happened in times before the television invaded our lives. More so, when the mobile phone volcano erupted in our faces. True or false, every myth, every lie, every truth is repeated ad nauseam till we start to mutter it in our sleep. 

I am from an army background, right from day 0 till date. I carry the greatest respect for those who wear the uniform. Their character and devotion to their chosen career, parallels none other.

Having said that, I want to ask all these brothers in uniform, whether they have any filial duty towards those who have fallen and have not been remembered by bureaucracy. I don’t have any hope from the government or from the babus, but at least those in uniform must acknowledge and remember those who never came home…leaving wailing widows and dumbstruck kids.

On behalf of these families, like mine, I am not asking for memorials or money, as is freely available now. Just an acknowledgement of their sacrifice. Their own regiments do what they can but not enough, I feel. And I am certain that all those from the pre 65 era will agree with me.

Through my words today, I want to remember all those very valiant warriors who fought and never gave up an inch of their land…they gave up their lives but not their country. My father’s bravery finds mention in many books written on the Sino Indian conflict. Col Brahmanand Avasthy …Commanding Officer of 4 Rajput. His name is taken with awe and pride even today. But there were so many more, 400 of those, who perished along with him on a very cold, very grey and very desolate mountainside in Arunachal. He led his boys to war, but they followed their Commanding Officer bravely and never questioned him. THEY also were heroes.albeit unsung, unremembered. 

Ironically, the villager of Nykmiadong, in Arunachal, made a memorial where the battle took place to commemorate the valor of the brave-hearts, and regularly visited by the locals, calling it the ‘Lion’s Memorial.’

Their mass grave was dug up at Lagyala Gompa, where my father’s memorial lies. It unearthed all those brave sons of India a buried alongside their Commanding Officer, who was granted the dignity of being rolled in a blanket. 

Must we not remember them with gratitude and tears too. They all gave up their lives and futures to protect our present. 

  • Rajesh Dube
    Posted at 03:16h, 26 March Reply

    It’s very true… The advent of modern day media and communication platforms have certainly created very high levels of awareness. Whatever happened recently was certainly going to get reported (maybe hyper reported), and get mixed with the political scenario. Abhinandan though no doubt a brave soldier became the hero for all,comman man and political parties.
    But the sad part is that these social media and news channels are doing nothing to create same type of national fervor which will compel government to do more for our fallen soldiers and most importantly many other “Abhinandan” Still in Pakistani captivity. Common people know very little about more than 40plus army and IAF soldiers still there.
    I am not sure but I feel the armed forces should take a lead and create a campaign to bring back their brothers or at least a confirmation of their existence. This has not been done with the same aggression and pitch which was used to get Abhinandan back.

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