A tribute to the martyrs of Galwan: Their courage and action; And for bringing the nation together

Updated: Jun 22, 2020 8:14 AM

The 20 soldiers who lost their lives in the clash with Chinese troops in Galwan Valley of Ladakh on Monday night belonged to six different units of the Army, including three infantry battalions and two artillery regiments.

galwan violence, martyrs of galwan, galwan clash,ladakh, indian army, india china standoff, 16 BIHAR, regiments of punjab, Army Medical Corps“The fact that there are casualties from units other than 16 Bihar means that the other units deployed nearby also rushed their troops to the spot,” the officer said. (PTI photo)

By Brig Pradeep Sharma

War is the most destructive and pitiless of all human activities. And yet the experience of war has a profound and strangely compelling effect on those who fight. Combat kills, maims, and terrifies, but it can also reveal the power of brotherhood and a selfless sense of purpose. It’s an experience that changes soldiers, and those changes last a lifetime. It changes the lives of their families too in ways that those who have not experienced can never know.

Most, who join the military, and, go to war, are young—18, 19 years old—and many have never been away from home. They have little experience of the world, let alone war, death, and killing. For them, and for all soldiers, combat is a complex mix of emotions that define the experience of war and shape the experience of coming home. Some do not find their way back home at all.

The Clash at Galwan/Ladakh

The 20 soldiers who lost their lives in the clash with Chinese troops in Galwan Valley of Ladakh on Monday night belonged to six different units of the Army, including three infantry battalions and two artillery regiments.

Sources in the Army informed that the bulk of the fatalities and injured are from 16 BIHAR including the Commanding Officer Col B Santosh Babu and 12 soldiers including a Naib Subedar, a Havildar and Jawans. They belong to the states of Bihar, Jharkhand and one from Odisha. Two JCOs and one NCO of Artillery Regiments from Punjab and Tamil Nadu and a Signalman from the Brigade signal Company amongst others. Naik Deepak Kumar from Army Medical Corps (AMC) who was attached with 16 Bihar as a nursing assistant was also killed in the clash.

A senior Army officer has been on record to say that the varied units of those killed in the clash reveal that as the clash got out of hand more reinforcements were sent to bolster the Indian troops engaged with the Chinese. “The fact that there are casualties from units other than 16 Bihar means that the other units deployed nearby also rushed their troops to the spot,” the officer said.

As per reports, a large number of troops from six units were admitted to the Army’s General Hospital in Leh. This sends a strong message to the rest of the Country;’ The Indian Army Stands United as one cutting across Cast, Colour, Language and Religion to Reflect a Perfect Example of National Integration’. Every Individual who wears the Olive Green is an Indian and a Patriot first.

They fearlessly made the ultimate sacrifice to protect the national and Territorial Integrity of India and if I may suggest, this directly or indirectly implies that they gave their all for the safety and security of citizens, for there, cannot exist a Nation without ‘Citizens’.

How this has impacted the citizens of India?

As you and I watch news channels showing Coffins draped with the Tri-Colour, large crowds accompany the motorcade, a tearful adieu by their families surrounded by hundreds from a diverse background, one can hear the shout of ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ or ‘Santosh Babu Amar Rahe’ and so forth, even as they wipe tears running down their face. Common citizens from a diverse background stood together in grief, a common resolve to avenge the deaths of the men in Olive Green.

Do you sense your hair stand on edge or feel the goosebumps as you read this?

The Social Aftermath

The second aspect is social issues relating to the Next of Kin and ensuring their rights are protected, prevent sharks from family or society to deprive them of the ‘Financial Benefits’ which they are entitled to. Apart from pensions, gratuities and other financial support that the Army provides for, State Governments too, announce many relief measures including monetary benefits.

While an Officers wife is expected to be educated and aware of her rights, she can take control of whatever comes her way with some guidance from friends and family, such is not the case for a majority of widows of JCOs/NCOs and Jawans from rural backgrounds. There have been exceptions even in the case of Officers where the In-Laws declared the widow as ‘Unlucky’ and denied her all family support!

At the Village level, things can get even worst! Family members eye the financial package and harass the widow, to either get her to part with it or to contribute the amount to a common family cause/project, leaving her at their mercy! In addition, there are ‘Sharks’ in the circle of Family or Contacts who go all out to divest her of the money by many a devious means. Refusal to cooperate more often than not results in further arm twisting and harassment.

Our social system, especially in rural India continues to be plagued with many superstitions and beliefs. Poverty and greed added to a fair degree of illiteracy are a dangerous mix for innocent and ignorant widows and their children. Many children are born after the father has passed away!

It falls upon the Unit/Battalion, the Regimental Centres and various Departments at Army Headquarters to ensure that the Next of Kin get their dues in a correct and timely manner.

The Zilla Sainik Welfare in the States have also a major role and responsibility.

Space, where the gaps exist, are those where considered and mature advice is required to give to the Next of Kin on where as well as how to invest such money in a secure manner. Prevention, from being deprived of these benefits by touts and greedy family members. Proper education and guidance regarding each little aspect concerning the benefits is a must.

After the sad loss of the breadwinner, the husband, father or Son this period of transition towards a new life, is the most important phase and a serious social responsibility. It is my hope that in reading this, Society will respond in support of these Veer Naries in the manner expected. That State government announcing the grant of financial support will ensure timely delivery and monitoring to ensure it reaches them in their hour of need.

This follow up for rebuilding lives of our Brave Veer Naries plays a very important role in motivation and morale of not only soldiers but also the youth who may be willing to join the Armed Forces.

Let us wish them strength and togetherness.

Dedicated to the Brotherhood and Purpose of Being a Soldier

The capacity for self-sacrifice among human beings is nowhere more evident than in the bond between soldiers during war. One Soldier calls this brotherhood the “core experience of combat… The willingness to die for another person is a form of love, and is a profound and essential part of the experience.”

Some combat veterans have felt that their lives never mattered more than when they were in combat. This sense of meaning and purpose grows out of protecting and is protected by, their comrades in arms—a shared commitment to safeguard one another’s lives that is non-negotiable and only deepens with time. Psychiatrist Jonathan Shay tells us that “The terror and privation of combat bonds men in a way that the word ‘brother’ only partly captures. Men become mothers to one another in combat.”

(The author is an Indian Army Veteran. Views are personal.)

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