Asian Lite Columnist Riccha Grrover meets Harinder Baweja, the author of Kargil: The Inside Story on the occasion of Kargil Vijay Diwas
On the occasion of Kargil Vijay Diwas, Roli Books announces a revised edition of A Soldier’s Diary: Kargil, The Inside Story by Harinder Baweja. The true story of Kargil as seen through the eyes of one of the front-line commanders, this edition comes with a new foreword by GL Batra, father of Capt. Vikram Batra, recipient of the highest gallantry award, Param Vir Chakra
About the book: Kargil, 1999
Two entire brigades of Pakistani army regulars infiltrated Indian territory and fortified themselves before the Indian army even realized they were there. The top army brass ignored warnings, downplayed the threat and the number of infiltrators till it was almost too late. They were also poorly prepared, operationally and in every other respect. Infantry soldiers were pushed up with inadequate maps, clothing and weapons, and no information of either the enemy’s numbers or their weapon strength.
With foreword by GL Batra, father of Capt Vikram Batra, the kargil war hero and recipient of the highest gallantry award, Param Vir Chakra, this is the true story of Kargil as seen through the eyes of one of the front-line commanders. Written in the form of a diary, it offers the first really detailed and exclusive account of the events that led to the invasion and the subsequent battle to retake the peaks occupied by the intruders. Even after almost two decades, the book is still the most accurate account of the many Indian soldiers who laid down their lives in the line of duty.
Harinder Baweja, author of the book is an Editor with Hindustan Times has earned a reputation as a fearless, committed reporter through her prolonged coverage of conflict zones. Her experience of covering the Kashmir crisis gave her access to a wide range of sources, particularly among the army units that were sent to Kargil. She covered the sharp, short war for India Today magazine, using her enviable range of sources to compile a definite account of the Kargil war.
She has also edited and authored chapters for 26/11 Mumbai Attacked.
G L Batra says in the foreword “By the morning of 8 July 1999, India had won Point 4875 but lost Capt. Vikram Batra. With the conquest of Point 4875, the connectivity to Ladakh was secured and our vehicles could move freely on the Srinagar–Leh Highway.
The day his body was brought home, it was excruciating. With tears coursing down her cheeks, my wife said, ‘No parent can see the dead body of their young son. Our son had captured three peaks, he had taken the nation by storm, but suddenly he was no more. Yet, when God gives you a mortal blow, he gives you the strength to cope with the grief. Guru Gobind Singh sacrificed four sons for the country. Maybe there was some reason that God gave me twins – one had been marked for the country and one for me.’ When one of Vikram’s friends had told him to be careful since war had begun, he had replied, ‘Don’t worry. I will either come back after raising the Indian flag in victory or return wrapped in it.’ Vikram fulfilled both his assertions. He raised India’s victorious tricolour at the height of 17,000 feet when he captured Point 5140. Later, when he fell fighting for the country at Point 4875, his body was brought back home wrapped in our national flag. Such was the bravery and patriotism of our son Vikram.
“We had never imagined that a son could make his parents worthy of the amount of honour we received from people across our country in the last twenty years after his martyrdom. He has elevated our status to that of proud parents of a Param Vir Chakra recipient. I was overwhelmed with the honour that I received at Surat (Gujarat) when I passed through the roads, stretching about 20 kilometres, on a chariot. I was wearing a turban and heavy floral garlands. There were two more chariots occupied by two other surviving PVCs. About four lakh citizens of Surat were standing on both sides of the road and showering flower petals on us. It raised my emotions. With wet eyes, I thought of Vikram, and wished my son could have received this honour in his own life. Though we miss him every moment, we feel that he is always with us spiritually. The departure of a noble son is of course painful, but to bring forth such a son is also great luck. We will always be proud of him.”
Written as a soldier’s diary, Kargil: The Inside Story is based on confidential defence documents gleaned from Indian and Pakistani troops in addition to extensive interviews with Indian Army officers and men. What was happening in the mountains? What kind of battles did the infantry soldiers have to wage in the deceptively serene snow-capped heights? What went through their minds at 18,000 feet?
This book is a must read for those who want to find out all about Kargil… the inside story.