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June 8, 1999
Forget the wounds, they just want to go back
Onkar Singh in New Delhi
Ever since some of the wounded soldiers from Kargil, Drass, and Batalik sectors were flown down here for treatment, myriad journalists make a beeline to the hospital.
"Kindly get in touch with the army's Public Relations Officer in case you want to see the injured jawans," a senior medical officer in the hospital tells a scribe when he lands there with his photographer.
"Apart from those jawans who need specialised orthopaedic treatment, the others are being treated in my ward. In all there are 34 jawans with us for treatment," said one of the doctors on duty. "We are not supposed to talk to the media," he added in the same breath.
All of them had serious injuries and were in various stages of recovery. However, none of them showed any sign of irritation or aloofness when approached. On the contrary they were all in a happy frame of mind.
The ones who had recovered sufficiently were watching television, while some others sat in groups outside their ward.
Others lay on their beds quietly observing the going ons around them.
Rediff on the NeT spoke to some of them. Though injured, each one of them was looking forward to go back to the border to take on the enemy once more.
Jhujhar Singh joined the Indian Army in 1981. The quite ferocious looking non-commissioned officer comes from Gurdaspur district of Punjab. "I am from 28 Rajput Regiment. I was posted in Drass sector. A splinter hit me in the leg when I along with seven others were going in for an attack. In this operation we lost one soldier, while four of us were injured. But we managed to push the enemy back. I came here a few days back. I am looking forward to go back to my unit and take on the enemy," he says.
He has two kids back in Gurdaspur. "My parents know about it," he added when asked if his near and dear ones knew about his injuries.
Mahesh Chandra of 1Naga, might lose three toes on his left foot because of gangrene. "I was posted in Drass sector and I was hit by a bullet in the back of my left leg. I had an urgent operation in the field hospital itself and I was flown down to Delhi for further treatment. I come from Haldvani in Uttar Pradesh. They tell me that it would take time to recover. My parents came to see me," he reveals.
Chandra is yet to be married.
Tushi, a young jawan from 1 Naga was posted in the Drass sector. He along with 35 others led by Lieutenant Gurung were climbing a hill when they were caught in a hail of bullets. One bullet hit Tushi on the thigh.
The platoon engaged the enemy and inflicted heavy casualties but Tushi had to be evacuated. ''I have informed my brother who works in Delhi. He must have informed my parents about my injuries," Tushi says.
The dare devil Naga hopes that he would get well soon and join his colleagues in Drass sector.
Grenadier, Akram Khan comes from Sikar in Rajasthan. Eleven years ago he joined the Indian Army.
" I was on duty in the Drass sector. Heavy artillery shelling from the Pakistan army was going on almost everyday. During one such shelling a splinter hit me. If I had not worn a helmet my head would have been smashed to pieces,'' Khan says.
A splinter hit him above his right eye. It was really bad. Khan feels better now. Like the others he too is raring to go back to the front.
Khan who was shifted to Delhi on May 29 is married and has a five-year-old son back in his village.
Naik Surinder Singh belongs to Vishali in Bihar. Attached to 1Bihar, Singh was part of the team led by Major Sarvanand who laid down his life in the Batalik sector.
"There were twenty of us. Major Sarvanand was in command. We were proceeding towards our goal when we found that the enemy had suddenly surrounded us from all sides. I despatched four intruders myself before a bullet injured me in my right arm. It hit me just below the shoulder joint. Though it hurt initially, the wound is healing pretty well," Singh says, showing us the spot where the bullet hit him.
Jeeva Chetri was injured in the Uri sector. He lost his left foot in a landmine blast when he along with some other soldiers were on a routine patrol.
"I lost my foot when I stepped on a mine laid down by the militants,'' he says. A native of Darjeeling, Chetri is attached to 2/9 Gurkha Rifles.
This brave soldier could be discharged from the army once he gets well.
The same fate awaits those who have received serious injuries. The army authorities need to be complimented for the kind of attention and care they have given to these injured soldiers.
"We are giving them the best possible care. We hope they would recover soon," says a doctor who has been attending on them.
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