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Home > News > PTI

Army Major who saved lives of scribes still to be honoured

Sumir Kaul | November 04, 2007 15:20 IST

As they pass through the cantonment in militancy-hit Kashmir valley, journalists bow their heads to remember an army officer who saved the lives of three newsmen and one of his staff members before being gunned down by Lashker-e-Taiba militants eight years ago.

But making the supreme sacrifice to safeguard civilians and exercising the best presence of mind may not have been
recognised as an act of bravery by the Army headquarters, which is silent on whether any honour should be conferred on Major Pramod Purushottam posthumously.

Maj Purushottam ensured the safety of three Kashmiri photojournalists -- S Tariq (now with NDTV), Habibullah Naqash (The Asian Age) and Fayaz Ahmed of (now with ANI) -- who were his guests at the fateful moment.

Purushottam, who literally lived up to his name, laid down his life while saving the life of the three Kashmiri journalists who had come to meet him on the fateful day -- November 3, 1999, minutes before LeT militants carried out
their first suicide attack on the fortified cantonment of the prestigious 15 Corps.

The spokesman at the Army headquarters in Delhi did not give any response to a question whether Major Purushottam
would be honoured for his act of bravery. 

"This is shocking especially when there have been instances where security forces have staged fake encounters or
killed innocents for medals. This man who risked his life to save Kashmiri scribes has been ignored by Army authorities,"  says a veteran journalist here who refused to be identified.

"The Army has forgotten its hero who lived for the army and died for them only," veteran Kashmiri journalist Zaffar
Mehraj, who runs English newspaper Kashmir Monitor from the valley, said.

Mehraj said he was "an excellent gentleman, totally different of the lot we find in Kashmir in uniform in the last
18 years".

"He introduced the Army to the Kashmiri media and built a direct rapport between scribes and the Generals. But it seems, the Army, which could have immortalised his name in the valley, is least interested. No one has touched the hearts of the Kashmiri journalist fraternity before or after him," he said.

The face of  bureau chief of Daily Excelsior, one of the largest circulating dailies in the state, Ahmed Ali Fayaz
still lits up with fond memories of Purushottam. "He was  an extra-ordinary human being. I have rarely come across such a man."

Both Mehraj and Fayaz along with scores of other scribes, say their heads bow in respect whenever they have a chance to enter into the Cantonment area for work.

Purushottam longed to be where the action was, not as a PRO but as part of the 7 Bihar Regiment, to which he belonged since 1990. He was commissioned into the Army in June 1982 and joined 4 Bihar where he remained till 1988.

In New Delhi, a Right to Information-appeal was filed by an RTI activist Dev Ashish Bhattacharya on September 24 this year wanting to know whether Major Purushottam was honoured with any gallantry award and if not, the reasons thereof. 

Bhattacharya has not received any reply to his queries.

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