Saurabh Kalia – A Captain Disavowed

13 Oct

There are very few people who possess an in born quality of patriotism and desire to serve the nation. Fewer are those who are actually eligible to fulfil their dreams of serving the nation by getting selected in the rigorous tests taken by army. Such people join the army truly out of their own will; there is no other motive behind it. Imagine a man giving his everything to the nation, to an extent that he’s even ready to give his life. Does it mean that we can take that life for granted? Well, it happened. The story of Captain Saurabh Kalia (click here) speaks out the helpless condition of his family and the shameful face of Indian government.

Captain Saurabh Kalia, an officer in Indian Army was born to Mrs. Vijay and Dr. N.K. Kalia on 29 June 1976 at Amritsar, India. As usual, just like all other brave and able officers of the army for whom our government never cared, he was also a bright student who secured first divisions and won many scholarships throughout is entire academic career. He was commissioned in the Indian Army on December 12, 1998, posted first of all in the 4 JAT Regiment (Infantry) in the Kargil Sector.

What exactly happened?

In the month of May, when winters are over several patrols are conducted by the Indian army to check whether the snow had retreated enough to re-occupy the posts and positions along the Line of control. Captain Kaila, along with 5 soldiers, was also on a similar patrol when he discovered large scale intrusion of Pakistani guerrillas on the Indian soil. He was the first army officer to report this infiltration by Pakistani army. Engaged in a firelight with the Pakistani troops he and his team ran out of ammunitions and were surrounded by Pakistan rangers. They all were captured alive before any Indian reinforcement could reach them.


They were held in captivity in captivity for 22 days and were subjected to all sort of unbearable and unimaginable tortures and were finally shot dead. The bodies were handed over by Pakistani army and the post-mortem reports revealed that their bodies were burnt by cigarettes, ear drums were pierced with hot rods, eyes were punctured and then were taken out. Most of the teeth and bones are broken, skull was fractured, lips were cut, limbs and genital organ were chopped too. After all such physical and mental tortures they all were finally shot dead.

The father Mr. N. K. Kalia who is a retired senior scientist from the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, along with his family was in a state of utter shock. The tortures which the soldiers went through were a clear violation of Geneva Convention (click here), which has established some standard protocol for the humanitarian treatment for the prisoners of war. The family struggled a lot to put the facts in front of the world and declare the torture as an act of war crime. Numerous letters and petitions were made to the then External affairs minister Mr. Jaswant Singh and then to the next minister Mr. S. M. Krishna. They got many assurances from the government but no solid actions were taken.

With his parents

With his parents

Pakistan, on the other hand, denied the torture of the six soldiers and rejected India’s demand to punish the guilty. The external affairs minister of Pakistan Mr. Rehman Malik even added that Captian Kalia may have died because of harsh weather conditions (click here).

Till date, 14 years have passed and yet nothing is done in the name of justice. The struggle was still on by the brave family members when 2 days ago (on 11th October 2013) this news flashed in front of my eyes.

“Indian government refuses to take Capt Saurabh Kalia’s case under Geneva Convention” (click here)

Defence Minister Mr. A. K Antony said: “The country is committed to resolving all matters through bilateral means and raising the matter in international forum would not be ‘desirable’.” He also added that “since the Indian government was bound by the Simla Agreement 1972 it could not take up the officer’s case with Pakistan.” (click here)

Shimla agreement was signed in 1972 which states that India and Pakistan pledge to settle all the differences with bilateral talks only without referring any other treaty.

Easy answer Mr. Antony and fair enough. You got rid of your responsibility by mentioning the Shimla pact. I just fail to understand the commitment shown by Indian Government to the pact signed some 4 decades ago. Where was this Shimla pact when Pakistan intruded our territory? Where was this pact when they were torturing and killing our soldiers? Where was the pact when they violated cease fire uncountable times, when they mutilated our soldiers, beheaded them very recently? All these pacts and treaties between India and Pakistan is just a sham. Such pacts and agreements are used by Indian Government to deny any responsible acts for its soldiers and by Pakistan to kill mutilate and challenge the Indian armed forces. Few months ago, a video came on internet in which a soldier is confessing the killing and torturing of Indian soldiers. (click here). Is this not an open challenge to the Indian Government saying “we killed your soldiers” and the recent event of beheading is like they’re saying “We’ll kill more in coming days. What can you people do?” Is this not an open challenge to one of the largest military force in the world? Aren’t they mocking the largest democracy of the world which dreams to be a superpower in coming years?

Indeed they are, and it’s humiliating, insulting and painful, not only for the family members of the martyred soldiers but for every single Indian who loves his/her motherland and respects the soldiers. The insensitive comment of Rehman Malik that weather could be a possible reason of Death was not much shameful and irritating because we cannot expect much from Pakistan; I find the attitude of Indian government more shameful because they mentioned Shimla pact to get their hand off the case, such an irresponsible act.

India never faced a shortage of volunteers, never faced a shortage of patriots, but the government continue to do so I’m very sure that in near future we’ll face such a shortage. A soldier who joins armed forces does not expect much. Indian soldiers, as compared to their western counterparts are given very less salary. Recently a case surfaced where it was found that soldiers posted at LoC were possibly wearing fake bulletproof jackets. (click here).We lost 5 soldiers in that case as this “Shimla-pact-abiding” Pakistan violated cease fire across LoC. So talking about Indian soldiers, they don’t expect anything and frankly they don’t even get the very basic necessities. He’s ready to sacrifice his personal and social life, all he expects is some respect and love from the country in return. Yet on the other hand we have got politicians who give utterly insensitive and disgraceful statements like: “Jawans (soldiers) are born to be martyred. Why else do people join Army and the police force?” (click here).

Indian government wants to abide by Shimla pact, wants to continue the programs like “Aman Ki Asha”. Nothing can be more shameful than this cowardly attitude. Every single peace treaty and pacts with Pakistan is a sham. Pakistan should be given a befitting reply every time following the concept of “Tit for Tat”. But no, this will never happen until this impotent government remains in power. I know that money matters a lot to the politicians, but what if there is no army to protect it? India wishes to become a superpower and I hope by using the word “power” we are talking about military power. The power lies in the hands of armed forces and until and unless we don’t treat and respect our forces properly we cannot become a superpower. It is the precise reason that countries like Bangladesh and Myanmar are mocking us at every possible chance they get. And ultimately we are the ones to be blamed because we elected these people and we are the ones who gave our country in their hands to rule and to decide its fate.

We cannot understand the pain and sorrow of the family members who lost their dear ones on the battlefield. And very certainly no one can understand the condition of the parents of Capt. Saurabh Kalia who lost their son in the most unimaginable and inhumane way. A 14 year long battle against Pakistan, for justice, has possibly come to an end with this shameful attitude of the government. After 14 years of death, Indian Government disavowed its soldier, A brave captain.

To Capt. Kalia,

Sir, I cannot imagine the level of valor and tolerance required to do what you did and what all you people went through in the captivity, but as a fellow Indian, I truly respect and salute your sacrifice. Every single Indian does so. You may have been “disavowed” by the government but still every citizen of India remembers you and they are grateful for your sacrifices.

“Never forget, never forgive”.