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Reportage: Archana Masih| Photograph: Seema Pant

When the Kargil war ended, 9 Para was assigned to fight terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir.

Major Walia opted for anti-terrorist operations and led his men into every mission with exemplary valour.

'I won't die in an accident or die of any disease,' he would often tell his mother, 'I will go down in glory.'

The end came just the way he wanted it to be.

On Sunday, August 29, 1999, a month after the Kargil war ended, his team was ordered to demolish a terrorist hideout in the thick Haphruda jungle in Kupwara district.

Major Walia had threaded through the forest the whole night, but the enemy remained elusive.

In the morning as he went past a stream, he spotted toothpaste foam by the edge of the water. He knew the terrorists were within striking distance and stealthily caught up with them.

In a daring combat action he killed nine of the 20 terrorists, but was critically wounded when a bullet ripped through his stomach. He could not move but continued to command his men till they vanquished the enemy.

'Only after 35 minutes when the fighting stopped he permitted his own evacuation,' reads the citation in his home.

After the fighting stopped Sudhir was taken by a military helicopter to the army base. "He could not make it," says his mother, wiping her tears with the dupatta covering her head. "He passed away en route."

For his mother Rajeshwari Devi, Sudhir was the perfect son, a boy who would sleep on the floor and iron her clothes when he was home. How many sons would do that?

Sudhir Walia's sister (centre), sister-in-law (left) and mother (right).

Also see: Kargil's first hero
The soldier who became a legend

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