"The real heroes of the nation are not the ones who kill but people like Captain Tushar who lay down their lives while fighting the enemies of the nation," says a friend of slain Captain Tushar Mahajan, who made the supreme sacrifice on Sunday while fighting off militants in Pampore.
When children of his age were engrossed in games and toys, Captain Tushar Mahajan was already dreaming about dedicating his life to the nation by joining the army and killing terrorists.
As his mortal remains wrapped in the Tricolor reached his hometown on Monday, his friends recalled an essay that the braveheart had written in school expressing his desire to join the army.
“He was such a boy that when he was asked to write an essay in the class he wrote that his aim was to join the army and kill terrorists. That was the time when his other classmates did not even know what terrorists or the army was,” his classmate and childhood friend Sushant said.
Mahajan of 9 Para was one of the two army captains who were killed while fighting terrorists in the Entrepreneurship Development Institute building in the Pampore area of the Pulwama district in Kashmir Valley.
As the officer’s body reached the headquarters of army’s Northern Command at Udhampur, his mother broke down and almost fainted while hugging the coffin.
Recalling Mahajan’s passion for the army, his inconsolable father, Dev Raj said, “He always wanted to join the army and at the age of 16 he got selected for NationalDefenceAcademy. We never objected to it as it was his childhood dream to serve the nation.”
Describing Mahajan as a naughty child who was loved by all, the retired principal said even though he has lost his son, Mahajan has made the entire nation, especially his hometown proud.
“Though I have lost my son I am proud that he laid down his life for the nation, an honour which only a few can get,” he said.
“He always wanted to join the army and filled all the forms by himself. He had this passion to be in the army and we never objected to it. His passion was to serve the country”, Dev Raj said.
Dev Raj said his son’s death should not go waste and the politicians of the country should work to make “things right”. He said he was not aware that his son was also a part of the ongoing operations in Pampore.
“I had no knowledge that Tushar was part of the ongoing operation in Pampore, but when I came to know about the martyrdom of Captain Pawan Kumar I was sad for the whole day. How many children will attain martyrdom? When will our politicians realise this,” he said.
Several senior army officers including the General Officer Commanding-in Chief of the Northern Command, Lt Gen D S Hooda and others laid wreath on the mortal remains of the captain. Officials from the civil administration, including the Deputy Commissioner Udhampur Shahid Iqbal Choudhary also laid wreath.
Many of his close relatives and friends were also present.
Expressing anguish over the incident in Jawaharlal Nehru University where Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru was hailed as martyr, Sushant said, “It is very disheartening to see how terrorists were being eulogised by the people at JNU and Jadavpur University. The real heroes of the nation are not the ones who kill but people like Captain Tushar who lay down their lives while fighting the enemies of the nation.”
As a pall of gloom descended on Udhampur people said Tushar’s martyrdom had set a benchmark for others to follow.
“We are sad that we have lost a brave son of the soil but the martyrdom of Tushar, whom I know since childhood, has set a benchmark in nationalism for others to follow. This is the distinction which makes him stand apart from others,” Parveen Kumar, a local resident said.
In a message of condolence, Union Minister Jitendra Singh said, “Even though there can be no befitting words of reverence for the martyrdom of Udhampur braveheart Captain Tushar Mahajan, the people of India and particularly of Udhampur will cherish the memory of his supreme sacrifice for generations to come and take pride in narrating the story of his bravery and valour.”
Defence Spokesman Col S D Goswami said, “He was a brave soldier who led his men from the front. The army joins the nation in paying tributes to the brave son of mother India who attained martyrdom while serving the nation in the highest traditions of the Indian Army. Our heart also goes to the bereaved family.”
An army official said, “We were told by his close relatives that they will hold the cremation this evening itself as per their cultural traditions and belief and will not wait for the arrival of his brother who is working abroad.”