Justice Delayed – Dishonour of Sacrifice

By: Ashna Bajaj (National Editor)

 

 

“A patrol team of 6 soldiers were captivated and subjected to brutal torture. Their bodies were burnt with cigarettes, ear-drums pierced with hot rods, eyes punctured  before being removed, most of the teeth and bones broken, the skulls fractured, lips cut, noses chipped, limbs and genitals chopped and finally shot, as evident by a bullet wound to the temple. It was also confirmed that the injuries were inflicted ante-mortem (before death).”

Looks like a chilling story of barbarous medievalism, doesn’t it? Sadly, it isn’t. It was the postmortem report of Captain Saurabh Kalia, a valiant officer from 4 Jat Regiment of the Indian Army and 5 other soldiers of his patrol team (who were captured alive by a unit of Pakistan rangers on 15th May 1999) which revealed this.

Captain Saurabh Kalia was on a routine patrol of the Bajrang Post and was the first to observe and report large-scale incursion of Pakistani Army and foreign mercenaries in Indian side of LoC (Kargil). They were captured and kept as Prisoners of War for 22 days and were tortured brutally by the Pakistani army. Their bodies were returned to the Indian army on 9th June 1999, in mutilated condition.

Since the past 13 years, Dr Kalia, father of Captain Saurabh Kalia, has been running from pillar to post demanding justice for his son and the 5 soldiers who faced the brutality of the Pakistani Army during the Kargil War. After repeated failure of the Government to bring forth this issue in its talks with Pakistan  and the subsequent demand for action against perpetrators involved in this heinous crime, which also violated the Geneva Convention of UN, Captain Kalia’s father has now filed a petition before the UN Human Rights Commission.

Now the responsibility lies with the government to forward this plea to the International Court of Justice to regain the faith of its citizens as well as soldiers of the country. Pakistan has sidelined issues core to India’s agenda, be it bringing 26/11 accused to trial or identifying and punishing Captain Kalia’s torturers. We cannot move forward unless our neighbours are sensitive to issues important to us. In a recent visit to India, Pakistan’s Interior Minister, Mr. Rehman Malik made irresponsible and insensitive comments saying that he wasn’t sure whether Captain Kalia “was killed by a Pakistani bullet or by the weather”. If Pakistan cannot play its role of a responsible nation in its bilateral ties with India, it has absolutely no right to raise question on the honor of this soldier.

Armies maybe rebuilt, and new soldiers maybe born but justice denied to a brave heart of that very army raises questions on the credibility of the nation which envisages justice to all citizen in its constitution. We have stood up every time justice has been denied to a citizen, be it the Jessica Lal murder case or the recent gang rape in Delhi. Then why the indifference for a man who laid down his life for us?

With the Pakistani Army refusing to accept the bodies of their own soldiers during most of the conflict, India made it a point to provide for a burial to Pakistani soldiers killed in the battle – by wrapping them in their National Flag and burying them in appropriate Muslim burial sites, with utmost grace.

“If such respect is given to soldiers of foreign land, then why can’t the nation stand up for its own blood, for its own soldier?”- A thought on which the whole nation should think and act. We owe at least as much to our protectors- The Indian Defense forces.

 

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