Saurabh Kalia

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Captain
Saurabh Kalia
Skalia.jpg
Born (1976-06-29)29 June 1976
Amritsar, India
Died 9 June 1999(1999-06-09) (aged 22)
Allegiance India
Service/branch Indian Army
Years of service 1998–1999
Rank Captain
Unit 4 JAT Regiment (Infantry) IC No. 58522F
Battles/wars Kargil War

Captain Saurabh Kalia (1976–1999) was an officer of the Indian Army who died during the Kargil War while being held as a prisoner of war by the Pakistani security forces.[1] He along with five other soldiers of his patrolling team was captured alive and kept in captivity where they were Investigated.[1][2]

Early years[edit]

Saurabh was born on 29 June 1976 at Amritsar, India to Mrs. Vijay and Dr. N.K. Kalia.[3] His schooling took place in the D.A.V Public School Palampur. Saurabh graduated in (BSc Med.) from H. P. Agricultural University, Palampur, Himachal Pradesh in 1997. He excelled at school, securing first Division and winning scholarships throughout his academic career.[4]

Military career[edit]

He was selected in the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun in August 1997 through Combined Defense Services and was commissioned on 12 December 1998. His first posting was in the 4 JAT Regiment (Infantry) in the Kargil Sector. Saurabh arrived there in mid-January 1999 after reporting at the Jat Regimental Centre, Bareilly on 31 December 1998.

Kargil war[edit]

In the first two weeks of May 1999, several patrols were conducted in the Kaksar Langpa area of Kargil to check whether the snow had retreated enough for the summer positions to be re-occupied.[5] He was the first Indian army officer to observe and reported large-scale intrusion of Pakistani Army and foreign mercenaries in Indian side of the Line of Control (LoC) at Kargil. He assumed guard of "Bajrang Post" at the height 13,000–14,000 feet to check infiltration in the Kaksar area.[6]

On 15 May 1999 Saurabh Kalia along with five soldiers – Sepoys Arjun Ram, Bhanwar Lal Bagaria, Bhika Ram, Moola Ram and Naresh Singh[7] of the 4 Jat Regiment had gone for a routine patrol of the Bajrang Post in the Kaksar sector in the rugged, treeless Ladakh mountains. After a continuous cross fire with Pakistan armed forces from across the LoC, he and his troops ran out of ammunition. They were finally encircled by a platoon of Pakistan rangers and captured alive before any Indian reinforcement could reach for their help. No trace of this entire patrol was left meanwhile Radio Skardu of Pakistan announced that Captain Saurabh Kalia had been captured by the Pakistani troops.[3][8] It was after this that India discovered hundreds of guerrillas 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.[1]

Captain Kalia and his men were in captivity for over twenty-two (15 May 1999 – 7 June 1999) days and subjected to torture as evident from their bodies handed over by Pakistan Army on 9 June 1999.[3] The postmortem revealed that the Pakistan army had tortured their prisoners by burning their bodies with cigarettes, piercing ear-drums with hot rods, puncturing eyes before removing them, breaking most of the teeth and bones, fractures of the skull, cutting the lips, chipping of nose, chopping off limbs and private organs of these soldiers besides inflicting all sorts of physical and mental tortures and finally shooting them dead, as evidenced by the bullet wound to the temple. The postmortem report also confirmed that injuries were inflicted ante-mortem (before death)[3][9][10][11][1]

On 9 June 1999, NK Kalia had received the body of his son, Captain Saurabh Kalia, handed over by the Pakistani army to Indian army commanders at the Kargil sector, with evidence of torture.[11][12]

Reaction[edit]

On 15 June 1999 The Deputy high commissioner of the Pakistani Embassy in New Delhi was summoned and a notice for the breach of the Geneva Convention was submitted for the torture and killing of the prisoners of War during the Kargil War.[7] The minister of external affairs Jaswant Singh raised the issue with Sartaj Aziz, the foreign minister of Pakistan for the identification and punishment of the guilty, but Pakistan continues to deny the charges of torture.[13]

On 14 December 2012 Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik expressed that Captain Kalia may have died because of weather conditions. He said that he came to know about Captain Saurabh Kalia's case very recently, and added that it is not known whether he was killed with the Pakistani bullet or he died because of the weather. He also said he would like to meet Captain Kalia's father to find out what exactly had happened with his son. The same day, the Supreme Court issued notice to the Centre and sought response within ten weeks on a petition filed by Captain Kalia's father N.K. Kalia.[14]

Efforts by family[edit]

External video
CJ takes on India, Pak govts over torture of Kargil hero Video on Saurabh Kalia

Moved by the torture meted out to his son by Pakistan army, N.K. Kalia launched a struggle to declare the act a war crime. Kalia wrote a series of letters to the then Minister for External Affairs Jaswant Singh.

Even after more than a decade since their son's death, the Kalia family has been trying to get justice from the government and to highlight the war crimes that were committed against their son and other Indian soldiers.[3] N.K. Kalia, his father has been following his son's case and wants the act to be declared a war crime by the UN, and the people responsible for the war crimes punished as per the rulings of the Geneva Convention.[11] However, numerous letters to the Centre have failed to move the government to pursue the matter with the world body. Five other soldiers were tortured and killed along with Capt Kalia. "I am ashamed of being an Indian. The country has spineless leaders," said N.K. Kalia. He also started an online signature campaign to highlight the plight of the war victims.[3]

His father approached various national and international organisations to put pressure on Pakistan to identify, book and punish the persons responsible for the inhuman and unpardonable crime of keeping his son in captivity for three weeks and subjecting to unprecedented brutal torture as evident from his body. But in spite of his efforts he is yet to achieve a fruitful result.[11][15]

He received replies from embassies and high commission of various countries.

Britain: We are seeking from the Indian Army a full report of the postmortem, unfortunately without any success so far.

Israel: Israel does not have diplomatic relations with Pakistan.

Germany: They had contacted the ministry of external affairs and had not received a reply.

Pakistan denied the torture of the six soldiers and rejected India's demand to punish the guilty.

N.K. Kalia said that if such events had happened to an American or Israeli soldier then the culprits would have been hounded around the globe. Despite assurances from the government, the cases is still pending and his family plans to pursue the case till the end.[16]

N.K. Kalia's petition was pursued by Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Member of Parliament who wrote to the External Affairs Minister and raised questions in Parliament on why the Government has not taken up the case of Capt. Saurabh Kalia with the UN Human Rights Council, to declare this act as a war crime, and identify and punish all the perpetrators. In response to a question raised by Chandrasekhar, Defence Minister A. K. Antony wrote to Kalia's parents in October 2013 that India was bound by the Simla Agreement, and any differences with Pakistan will be settled bilaterally.[17]

"In order to declare a war crime, the ministry of defence needs to write to the ministry of external affairs, which then takes up the matter with the UN Human Rights Council. The council then refers the matter to the General Assembly, which can declare war crime. It then goes to the international court of justice (ICJ). It is the ministry of external affairs that did not follow up the case with the UN" said Colonel (retd) SK Aggarwal, former judge advocate general (JAG) officer.[16][18] An affidavit filed by the External Affairs ministry in November 2013, said that "moving the ICJ is not a legally enforceable right" and that Pakistan may not permit India submitting a proposal to ICJ.[17]

Indian Army Chief General Bikram Singh has also supported the efforts of Mr. N K Kalia. He reportedly wrote to the Ministry of Defence and National Human Rights Commission conveying his concerns in the matter.[19]

N.K. Kalia, along with Rajeev Chandrasekhar, and the Flags of Honour Foundation, an organisation dedicated to building ceaseless engagement between society and the families of our martyrs, filed a petition with the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) against war crimes and the torture inflicted on Captain Kalia and five jawans by Pakistani forces during the Kargil war in 1999. The petition was filed on 7 December 2012, with Juan E. Mendez, Special Rapporteur on Torture, of the Office of High Commissioner of Human Rights in Geneva.[20] The Indian External Affairs Ministry said it would look at the nature of the petition, as the UNHRC is an inter-state body and usually acts only in terms of initiatives taken by its member states.[21]

Memorial[edit]

Saurabh Kalia's personal belongings such as photographs, uniforms, shoes and mementoes are kept in a separate room, named as 'Saurabh Smriti Kaksha' (a museum), in his house 'Saurabh Niketan' in the hills of Palampur.[22]

In his memory the government of the state of Himachal Pradesh has raised a memorial park named as 'Saurabh Van Vihar' in an area of 35 acres (14 ha) in Palampur and renamed a street in the town as Capt Saurabh Kalia Marg and the locality as 'Saurabh Nagar'.[23] A nursing college in the proposed Vivekanand Medical Research Trust Hospital in Palampur has been raised in his memory.[3] In Amritsar, Kaliya's birthplace his statue has been erected in a memorial.[2] A Liquefied petroleum gas agency has been allotted by the Indian Oil Corporation to the parents of Saurabh Kalia.[3][23]

External links[edit]

  • Letter from Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Member of Parliament to the External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, December 2011 – [1]
  • Response from the External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna to Rajeev Chandrasekhar, September 2012 – [2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Pakistan 'tortured Indians to death'". The Independent. 12 June 1999. Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Singh, Mohinder. Punjab 2000: Political and Socio-economic Developments. Anamika Pub & Distributors, 2001. ISBN 9788186565902. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "Saurabh Kalia's parents waging a lone battle to highlight war crimes". The Hindu. 6 July 2009. Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  4. ^ Lt. Saurabh Kalia
  5. ^ Gill, Kanwar Pal Singh. Terror and containment perspectives of India's internal security. p. 102. ISBN 9788121207126. 
  6. ^ "Justice delayed… and denied". Spectrum, The Tribune. 31 July 2011. Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  7. ^ a b "Breach of Geneva Convention by Pak armed forces". Foreign Affairs Record 1999. Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India. Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  8. ^ "War in Kargil". Frontline, The Hindu. 5–18 June 1999. Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  9. ^ "History in golden letters?". tehelka.com. 12 February 2005. Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  10. ^ "Is this how we should remember Kargil?". Sify News. Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  11. ^ a b c d Sood, Ravinder (21 March 2008). "Seven years, Captain Kalia's family still waiting for justice". Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  12. ^ "Pak returns bodies of six Indian soldiers". Rediff News. 10 June 1999. Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  13. ^ "Letter from the Minister of External affairs". Lest We Forget. Ministry of External Affairs, Govt. of India. Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  14. ^ "Captain Kalia may have died because of weather: Rehman Malik". ANI. 14 December 2012. Retrieved 19 May 2013. 
  15. ^ "CJ takes on India, Pak govts over torture of Kargil hero". CNN-IBN. 10 February 2008. Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  16. ^ a b "Lest We Forget, Kargil's first hero". Rediff news. 7 June 2004. Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  17. ^ a b "Govt surrenders to Pakistan on Kargil hero". Mail Today. 20 November 2013. Retrieved 20 November 2013. 
  18. ^ "Capt Saurabh Kalia's torture by Pak army still not 'war crime'". The Times of India. 9 June 2010. Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  19. ^ "General Bikram Singh extends Support to Family of Kargil Hero Capt. Kalia". IANS. Biharprabha News. 
  20. ^ Vicky Nanappa (11 December 2012). "Captain Kalia's father takes fight for justice to UN". rediff. Retrieved 19 May 2013. 
  21. ^ "Kargil hero Saurabh Kalia's father approaches UNHRC". rediff. 11 December 2012. Retrieved 19 May 2013. 
  22. ^ "A kargil memorial in the time of war". The Indian Express. 26 May 2002. Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  23. ^ a b "For these parents, life's a mix of grief, pride". The Indian Express. 11 June 2005. Retrieved 29 March 2012.