Give any person Rs 10 crore and ask him to enter a building where incessant firing is going on. See if he is ready to do so and get his body riddled with bullets. When we feel scared to even send our children out in the dark, Captain Tushar and Captain Pawan entered a building, which had been taken over by terrorists, and fought them bravely. They didn’t get any special incentive for that. But they did it as their duty towards the motherland. As faujis, we feel sad that our sacrifice doesn’t matter to our country. We have people who don’t realise the value of freedom, and the cost we pay to maintain it,” an Army officer stationed in Kashmir valley, and a course-mate of martyred Captain Tushar Mahajan told The Sunday Guardian.
Last Sunday, Captain Tushar Mahajan succumbed to bullet injuries after a fierce gun-battle ensued at Pampore’s sprawling Entrepreneur Development Institute. Before him, Captain Pawan Kumar and Lance Naik Om Prakash of the Special Forces were killed in the encounter. After 48 hours of incessant firing, the Special Forces were successful in eliminating all the three foreign terrorists who were holed up inside the institute. They also rescued the son of Hizbul chief Syed Salahuddin, who was busy praising the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba for the attack.
In the process, the country lost three brave men of the Special Forces. Friends in the Army recollected memories of Captain Tushar and Captain Pawan Kumar. They told The Sunday Guardian that they felt a sense of angst for not being valued for their supreme sacrifice.
“When (the) nation was busy fighting for their reservation rights, when students in universities were busy expressing their ‘freedom of speech’, and when university professors were busy opposing the hoisting of the Tricolour on campuses, Tushar Mahajan, a JNU graduate, was busy eliminating terrorists in Pampore so that people like these could continue to do what they were up to,” a close friend of Tushar’s said.
“It’s enraging and depressing to see what is happening. This young boy of 23 (Pawan Kumar) was way ahead of his years. He was fighting for his country when his own locality was burning for reservation (a reference to the Jat stir as Pawan was a Jat). He never stopped to think he should get something extra. If he had wanted it, he had got it because he had earned it. He was a true warrior. Our nation is such a paradox. Youngsters at JNU and Jat stir are holding the nation hostage and a Jat youngster with a degree from JNU repaid his debt in full measure to his motherland,” said another officer who had known the two for years.
‘Our nation is such a paradox. Youngsters at JNU and Jat stir are holding the nation hostage and a Jat youngster with a degree from JNU repaid his debt in full measure to his motherland.’
“We are all bereaved by Tushar and Pawan’s martyrdom. But we have told their parents that they have 400 sons to look after them,” an Army officer and a course-mate of Tushar said while recounting memories of their days in the National Defence Academy. “Tushar was my course mate, while Pawan was my junior. The Army chooses its best for the Special Forces. And they are deployed for the highest operations. They were the best who had undergone rigorous training,” he said.
Recollecting their days at the NDA and then at the Indian Military Academy, he said that Tushar was the first to extend help to any of his course mates. “He always put everyone else before him. If we went for any outdoor challenge, and someone felt tired, he would boost their morale. Not just that, he would share their bags and guns so they could get up and complete the task,” he said. “He was not someone who kept cracking jokes, or was very talkative. But he was endearing. He had a mesmerising smile,” said another course mate who had lost touch with him for almost a year.
Friends recollected how Tushar was very focused on his career and his courses. “During our training, when we would want to go out and have fun, Tushar would tell us that we needed to study first and complete the course well. He would always finish his task first, and then think of enjoyment. He was very dedicated and focused,” he said.
“Joining the Army was his childhood dream and he fulfilled and lived by it. Having spent three years with him, I know him as a person brimming with josh. Adored by seniors and emulated by juniors, he was one person who would always greet you with a smile. But beneath that smile was great determination, a purpose in life, an earnest endeavour. He was a dear friend, a guiding light, a shoulder to cry on during the toughest times one endured during the rigorous training in NDA,” said another course mate who is currently posted in Punjab.
NO TIME FOR SOLDIERS
“People in India are too occupied to have time for their soldiers. Even if a single soldier of the US Army dies in a faraway Afghanistan, the entire country mourns his death. But in no time we forget our martyrs. The country wanted to know about Hanumanthappa only until the media showed him. After that, nobody is bothered to know the fate of the family. Nobody knows what the families of Captain Tushar or Captain Pawan are going through. But everyone is interested in knowing about those who shouted anti-national slogans at a Central university. I feel proud of my course mate that he made the supreme sacrifice. But I also feel bad. As faujis, we hope that someday, people will realise the hard work we put in to guard the country from anti-national forces, so that privileged people can sit in Mumbai and Delhi to discuss whether certain ideas are anti-national or not,” an Army man posted in north Kashmir said. “Poor is a nation that does not have any heroes. Pathetic is the one that having them, forgets them,” remarked another Army officer.