Who was captain Saurabh Kalia?
Wars produce some of the most heinous acts done and seen by humanity. To curb this brutality, United Nations created some Wartime laws applicable to countries part of the UN. These laws prohibit nations in war from subjecting surrendered enemy soldiers to inhuman activities including torturing and killing.
But all these laws are in the end nothing but pieces of paper. In reality, nations break these rules left and right. Because war brings the worst out of a nation.
Captain Saurabh Kalia was one of the few unfortunate who had to witness such cruelty and evil.
Captain Saurabh Kalia was born in the holy city of Amritsar, Punjab. His dream was to join the Jat regiment of the army. To make his dream come true, Kalia studied with his heart out. Though born in a lower middle class, he kept advancing ahead based on merit and scholarships. Finally, in 1998, he joined the Jat regiment. From Varanasi, the Jat regiment centre, he was placed in Kargil.
Kargil was the hotspot of the India-Pakistan war of 1999. Saurabh Kalia was captaining a team to India’s base when they started receiving bullets. They were the first ones to know about the Pakistani occupation of Indian bases in Kargil. They informed their main camp through radio and asked for backup. Captain Kalia and his men have guessed that they were both outnumbered and ill-positioned. In a battle of mountains, the one with higher grounds has the advantage.
But backup was not readily available. The mountainous region made travelling and relocating soldiers difficult. Also, Pakistan had captured multiple Indian bases, dividing the resources in the hands of the Indian army. Lastly, Pakistan’s bomb shelling from a higher position meant Indian troops could only travel at night.
Captain Kalia and his men had taken cover behind a large boulder. They kept fighting without a second of sleep. Their food, water, and ammunition were all depleted. After five days of defending their cover, they were captured.
Kalia was the captain of the unit and Pakistani troops were looking to out some information from him. And hence they tortured him. Kalia and his men had officially surrendered and were taken as Prisoners of war or PoW. The horrors he went through are unspeakable. And this is probably why Pakistan made sure he never spoke. After the war, POWs from both sides were released. But Captain Kalia, though captured alive, came back lifeless. Upon examining his body, Indian doctors were shocked. The body of Captain Kalia had its eyes missing, eardrums pierced, tongue and lips cut, and multiple cigarette burns throughout.
After the defeat in 1999, Pakistan was at its lowest. It had refused to take back the dead bodies of its soldiers. Similarly, it also refused the claims made by the Indian government over Captain Kalia’s treatment as a PoW.
While the government and nation mourned for Captain Kalia, with time both got busy and his cause was forgotten.
But while the nation had hundreds of soldiers to mourn for, Kalia’s father had just one. Kalia’s father took inspiration from him. And like Kalia’s stand against the enemies, his father now stands alone demanding justice for his son. He has written numerous letters to the UN, and the President of America, and held talks with Indian officials. Yet, most of them remain fruitless. Currently, Pakistan has denied sharing any related data with a foreign country.
This 22-year-old captain was the embodiment of the Indian army’s spirit. Even after sensing a certain death ahead, they held their ground. They were the first to encounter the enemies. Had they run off or surrendered without fighting, it would have boosted the morale of the enemy camp. Though India didn’t start the war, Captain Kalia made sure we responded to it with our best foot forward.