Reportage: Archana Masih| Photograph: Seema Pant
Major Sudhir Walia died fighting terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir on August 29, 1999.
He was 31.
Just a month earlier he had led his elite commando infantry unit -- the 9 Parachute Commandos -- on an assault on Zulu Ridge in the Kargil war.
The Pakistani troops had begun their pullout from the Kargil region by that time but some invaders remained on the Zulu top at a height of 5,200 metres in the Mushkoh region of Jammu and Kashmir.
On July 25, 1999 -- a day before Vijay Diwas or Victory Day which commemorates the end of the Kargil war -- Major Walia and his team captured Zulu Ridge. Thirteen enemy soldiers were killed. There were five casualties on the Indian side.
For his valour and leadership in the face of the enemy Major Walia was recommended for a Vir Chakra, India's third highest award for gallantry in battle. His battalion was called the bravest of the brave for the recapture of the ridge.
A few days later, when General Ved Prakash Malik, Chief of the Army Staff, arrived in Srinagar to review the situation at the corp headquarters, he met Sudhir briefly before he went into the meeting.
Two years before the Kargil war, Sudhir Walia had reported to his office in New Delhi as his aide-de-camp. That morning in Srinagar he was wearing the Viet Cong cap that was given to them on an official trip to Vietnam, remembers General Malik over the phone from his home in Panchkula, Haryana.
"Why did you go on the mission without proper acclimatisation, I asked him [about the attack on Zulu Ridge]," recalls General Malik, "He laughed and said -- 'Sir, I'm a pahari [hill dweller], I don't need to be acclimatised.'"
If you go to Major Walia's home, this is the first picture you will see in his verandah; the citation of the Ashok Chakra.