‘My fight for my son and against the misdeeds of the neighbouring country's army needs to be highlighted at the international fora’
Fighting for justice for his martyred son for over two decades, Narendra Kumar Kalia waits for the day to see India take Pakistan to the International Court of Justice for inhumanely torturing his son Captain Saurabh Kalia who was killed during the 1999 Kargil conflict.
Having moved a petition before the Supreme Court in 2012, 75-year-old Kalia, a retired scientist, has sought directions to the Union government to take "immediate and necessary steps" to bring up the issue before the ICJ based at The Hague for appropriate remedy and action against the Pakistan government for the act committed against his son and five other soldiers.
In his petition, he said the barbaric act violated the Geneva Convention of treatment for Prisoners of War to which both India and Pakistan are signatory.
"I approached the Supreme Court in 2012 and my writ petition was finally admitted in January 2016. The matter has been heard many times but it remains inconclusive. But that does not mean I will give up. My fight for my son and against the misdeeds of the neighbouring country's army needs to be highlighted at the international fora," Kalia told PTI over phone from Palampur, Himachal Pradesh.
The senior Kalia feels that his efforts to ensure that India drags Pakistan to the ICJ would be an appropriate justice to the supreme sacrifice of his son.
"Tomorrow, I will also pass away. Who will remember me? But my son will be in the history of this great nation for time immemorial. At times, I do get frustrated when I remember what my son and his team would have undergone and that his culprits are moving freely," he said.
The Pakistan army indulged in the most heinous act of burning their bodies with cigarettes, removing eyes after puncturing, breaking most of their teeth and bones besides inflicting all sorts of physical and mental tortures before shooting them dead.
He said Pakistan violated all international laws by capturing them alive and not informing India about their Prisoner Of War (POW) status.
"My son fought the real battle of Kargil indeed for 22 days, unarmed in enemy's custody. His unmatchable martyrdom in this unique way awoke the whole sleepy nation, lit the patriotic fire in the country and had a catalytic effect on the entire armed forces," Kalia said.
The country on Tuesday celebrated the 23rd anniversary of its victory in the Kargil conflict where the Indian armed forces had trounced the Pakistani army regulars who had crossed over the Line of Control to occupy strategic Himalayan peaks on the Indian side in Kargil-Drass sectors during winters.
In their valiant efforts to wrest back Indian positions from the clutches of the enemy on a battlefield at a 5000-metre altitude, in the extreme cold and rarefied air, 527 soldiers were killed in the operation which concluded successfully on July 26, 1999.
The first news of the disappearance of Saurabh Kalia and his team was broadcast on Askardu radio in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir
The bodies of Saurabh and sepoys Arjun Ram, Banwar Lal, Bhikaram, Moola Ram and Naresh Singh were handed over to India on June 9. The next day, on June 10, the story broke about Pakistan's tale of barbarism.
The bodies were without their vital parts, their eyeballs were gouged out and their noses, ears and genitals chopped off.
This kind of ruthlessness had never been witnessed before in the history of armed conflicts between the two countries. India expressed its outrage over the mutilation and disfigurement of six of its army personnel and termed it a "violation of international conventions".
"The irony is that we never had an opportunity to see him in uniform except for the pipping ceremony at the academy. He became a martyr before his first pay arrived in his bank account.
"The last words before going to Kargil were 'Ma, tum dekhna ek din aisa kaam kar jaunga ki saari duniya mein mera naam hoga' (mother, you will see one day I will do such a deed that the whole world will acknowledge it). He lived to his words and it's time for me to do something for my son," an emotional Kalia said.
Captain Kalia was commissioned into the army in December 1998 and posted with the 4 JAT regiment in Kargil in the middle of January 1999. In the first fortnight of May 1999, he went out for patrol duty three times in the Kaksar area of Kargil and gave information about the large-scale intrusion of the Pakistan Army in the area.
As a young soldier, he volunteered himself to go to 'Bajrang Post' at the height of 13,000-14,000 ft along with five soldiers of the 4 JAT Regiment in the Kaksar area to check for infiltration.
Capt Kalia along with the five other soldiers of the patrol party was captured alive by the Pakistan Army on May 15, 1999, after a fierce encounter.
"It is quite evident that none of the soldiers of my son's team broke down during the interrogation despite being subjected to unprecedented brutal torture as was evident from their bodies which were handed over by the Pakistan Army on June 9, 1999," he said.
"It reflects their patriotism, grit, determination, tenacity and valour for which the whole nation is proud", the senior Kalia said.
According to the post-mortem report annexed with the petition before the Supreme Court, Capt Kalia's body had a gunshot wound in the frontal-parietal region, a lacerated wound probably due to blunt injury over both lips and mouth; fractures in both bones in the left forearm; fracture metacarpals of the right hand; lacerated wound on shoulder and both forearms; lacerated wound left eye and fractured nasal bones.