Capt Saurabh Kalia : First martyr of Kargil war

India is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Kargil War, but behind this celebration many such young Jawans who lost their lives for their country. Capt Saurabh Kalia was one of them who sacrificed his life in kargil war. He was martyred even before the war started.

Capt Saurabh was selected for the Indian Military Academy, in August 1997 through Combined Defense Services and was commissioned on 12 December 1998.  He was commissioned into 4 Jat of the Jat Regiment, a regiment known for its fearless soldiers and numerous battle.

In the first two weeks of May 1999, several patrols were conducted in the Kaksar Langpa area of Kargil district to check whether the snow had retreated enough for the summer positions to be re-occupied. Capt Saurabh Kalia observed and reported large-scale intrusion of Pakistani Army and foreign mercenaries on the Indian side of the Line of Control (LoC) at Kargil. He assumed guard of “Bajrang Post” at 13,000–14,000 feet to check infiltration in the Kaksar area.

On 15 May 1999 Lt Saurabh Kalia and five other soldiers – Sepoys Arjun Ram, Bhanwar Lal Bagaria, Bhika Ram, Moola Ram and Naresh Singh of the 4 Jat battalion had gone for a routine patrol of the Bajrang Post in the Kaksar sector. After a continuous cross fire with Pakistan armed forces from across the LOC, he and his troops ran out of ammunition. They reported this to the base camp and called for reinforcements. Before the troops could arrive, they were surrounded by a platoon of Pakistani rangers and captured alive. The Indian troops found no trace of the patrol party and launched a massive search operation to locate them. Meanwhile Radio Skardu of Pakistan announced that Captain Saurabh Kalia had been captured by Pakistani troops. This event led to the discovery of hundreds of guerrillas, who had established fortified positions on the peaks of the hills deep inside the Indian side of the Line of control, with sophisticated equipment and supply lines back to Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.

Capt Saurabh Kalia wth His mother

Capt Saurabh Kalia and his men were in captivity from 15 May 1999 – 7 June 1999 for about twenty two days, and subjected to torture as evident from injuries to their bodies when they were handed over by the Pakistani Army on 9 June 1999. The postmortem examination revealed that the Pakistani forces had tortured their prisoners in gross violation of the Geneva Convention on treatment of prisoners of war. Capt Saurabh Kalia and his companions were burnt with cigarettes and hot Iron rods were pierced in their ears.

On 9 June 1999, Dr N K Kalia received the body of Capt Saurabh Kalia, handed over by the Pakistani army to Indian army commanders at the Kargil sector, with evidence of torture. Capt Saurabh Kalia was a valiant and committed soldier who laid down his life in the service of the nation.

Parents of Capt Saurabh Kalia

The body of Capt. kalia was sent to his family on June 9, 1999. Saurabh Kalia’s brother, Vaibhav, identified his body when it arrived in a coffin wrapped in the national flag. He recalled “Saurabh’s face 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.”   

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