21 years have gone, but the battle still continues, only the battlefield has changed. I never met him but whenever I pass through Tala area, I always bow down my head as a mark of respect to Lt. Kanad Bhattacharya, who laid down his life in the gallant fight in the Kargil war about two decades back for the safety and security of our motherland only at the age of 25. Both of us are from Bengal and almost of the same age group and are also the residents of the northern fringe of Kolkata.My heartfelt tribute for the Brave & Valiant soldier who made this Supreme Sacrifice at Kargil conflict which was no less than a conventional war.
Here is a brief about this daring young gun and what happened with him during Kargil war lieutenant Kanad Bhattacharya hailed from Baranagar in Kolkata, West Bengal. Son of an Income-tax officer, Lt Kanad was born and brought up in Tala area near Shyambazar. He studied at St. James School and graduated from SA Jaipuria college in Kolkata. He was a keen sportsman during his school days and played cricket very well. He also had an inclination towards Martial arts and was a karate black belt holder. He always nursed the idea of joining the Armed Forces and ultimately translated his dream into reality. He got into the Army through Officers Training Academy(OTA) and was commissioned into 8 Sikh of the famed Sikh Regiment, one of the oldest regiments known for its intrepid soldiers and numerous battle honors. As his first assignment after commissioning, Lt Kanad got posted to the unit which was deployed in J &K and got involved in the Kargil war. Kargil war: 21st May 1999There were reports about Pakistani infiltration in May 1999 and Lt Kanad Bhattacharya’s unit was deployed along the LOC near Tiger hill. By the third week of May 1999, the legitimacy of these reports was proven and it had been established that the infiltration had been done on a large scale in various sectors, including the Tiger hill area. Consequently, on 21st May, Lt Bhattacharya was entrusted with the responsibility of putting his foothold on a northeastern ridge near Tiger Hill. The route was inaccessible and was fully covered with snow. While Sepoy Major Singh was climbing up, he detected the movement of intruders coming down with heavy weapons towards them. The intruders started firing at the patrol with heavy automatic and sniper fire. Lt Kanad Bhattacharya and Sepoy Major Singh divided the patrol into two groups and started engaging the intruders from different positions thereby displaying outstanding professional competence. The heavy exchange of fire continued between Lt Kanad’s patrol and the intruders. Lt Kanad and his troops kept constantly returning the fire with great zeal, full poise, and determination. In the firefighting, a number of patrol members including Lt Kanad received multiple gunshot wounds. later he succumbed to his injuries and was martyred. The patrol could not come back and be declared missing in action on 21st May 1999. The body of SS-37818M late Lt Kanad Bhattacharya was recovered from the action area on 15 July 1999 buried in snow, after the Indian forces had captured the Tiger Hill. He was a gallant soldier and a brilliant officer who laid down his life in the service of the nation at the young age of 25 years. Lt Kanad Bhattacharya was awarded “Sena Medal” (Posthumous) for his courage, unyielding fighting spirit, and supreme sacrifice. Capt Kanad Bhattacharya, the first Kargil martyr from the city, was cremated with full military honors at Nimtollaghat in North Kolkata. Braving a steady drizzle, hundreds of people, mostly youth, gathered at the historic crematorium since morning to pay their last respects to the 25-year-old hero. Soldiers don’t die on battlefields, they die when an ungrateful nation forgets their sacrifice. May the 527 martyrs of Kargil live in our hearts forever…Jai Hind
Photo credit:Kalyan Chowdhury (With inputs from The Indian Army Official web portal)
By Ms. Pratyusha Mukherjee, an active Journalist working for BBC and other media outlets, also a special contributor to IBG News & IBG NEWS BANGLA. In her illustrated career she has covered many major events.