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Kargil's first hero

Reportage: Archana Masih. Photograph: Seema Pant. Design: Dominic Xavier

Lt Kalia's brother, Vaibhav, now 25, identified his body when it arrived in a coffin wrapped in the national flag in Palampur. Saurabh's face, he recalls, "was the size of my fingers, his eyebrows were the only visible feature, no eyes, no jaw, there were cigarette burns… it was very bad. My parents couldn't have seen him."

Vaibhav pauses, then stops talking.

He does not mention that his brother's eyes and eardrums were pierced, the private organs cut, his chest burned… the details are mentioned in the appeal that his father has sent out to Indian citizens in the last five years.

Their father Dr N K Kalia, a senior scientist at the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, has written to every important department in government, to the prime minister, to every embassy and consulate he could find addresses of, to take up the case of human rights violations and the flouting of the Geneva Convention by Pakistan.

Jaswant Singh, then the external affairs minister and a former soldier himself, replied that the matter would be raised with Pakistan at every opportunity.

Vaibhav Kalia in a room full of his brother's memories.

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