Off late the surgical strikes of Indian Army has been making news and after Saheed Hanumant Thappa Indian Army has gone viral in social media. In some places as the social media shows, BJP made posters on election campaign, Mr Kejriwal asked the PM to provide proofs of the attack and Congress released cross LOC attacks in public. The Uri attack and our return fire made lot of us little patriotic and what’s app also flooded with a candle wala DP and many forwarded messages.
Being a silent watcher of those activities I visited Srinagar, Leh, Nubra, Turtuk and Pangong where every single day and every single hour I saw a numbers of Indian Army personnel, their camps, their trucks, rocket launcherss and many things which I want to share it here.
First of all, above all bullets and kinds of guns, there lies a lot of artists. All army camps I went across during my visit are colorful. Beautifully decorated, well maintained and clean. I was amazed to see their cretivity and trust on my words, the arial view of any army camp of these places I mentioned will give a natural smile in your eyes.
There creativity is not only limited to colors but also in terms of words. All the camps are beautifully named and some mountains are creatively carved with those names along with the tricolor. There comes BRO; a Familiar name you will see in every hundred meter with signage and boards. Its not the gen X term ‘Yes Bro’ kind of stuff rather an organisation originated from Indian Army. Officially known as Border Roads Organization (BRO) has been mainting and developing roads across borders in India. The people are so creative, every hundred metre you will see some funny, witty, informative and useful messages on road safety and cleanliness. And let me tell you, you can’t avoid reading them even if you are at a speed of 80km or more. They will hold ur nerves and put pressure on your right hand to lessen the accelerator.
Some messages are like
“Don’t be a Gama, in the land of Lama”
“Drinking whisky, driving risky”
“Do not gossip, let him drive”
Above all, I have never seen any armed force or security agency so much hospitable. While crossing the hilly difficult terrains, amidst all tension and adventure what makes you smile is, you salute any army truck or jeepsy or any officer on he way, they will revert back with saluting you back and with a million dollar smile. They will give you ways to pass the roads safely. When there is jamming, first they will make your ways clear and then they will move. Remember the tracks might carry cooked food, water or fuel for the jawans at the base or at different check posts. They make sure, you travel safe.
They are more hospitable than any service industry. Can you see the softer hearts behind the tough soldiers??? I did every time during the trip.
Now let me come to the point what I have been waiting to spell out loud. I was crossing a check post and got time to interact few army personnel. It was on my way to the northern most village of India, Turtuk which was once a part of India. The check post was in the valley where, on the west, there was Pakistan just a mountain away and on the east, there was China again a mountain away. It was near the Siachen glaciers and the Hanumant Thappa point was not very far from the check post. They narrated till 1971 that post was under Pakistan and we won that during 1971 war. The valley was freaking beautiful and I was amazed to know, they remain their round the year no matter how cold it is. This is the condition of all such check posts and all such base camps. And in winter the temperature go beyond zero degree and they experience that for the sake of serving the country.
I wanted to hug few of them and let them know how proud I am feeling. But it was lunch time and they said to meet them while coming back. I crossed the check post and visited the last Indian Village Turtuk. It was worth achieving. The village is one of the beautiful experience I had during my trip. The children are most beautiful in India as many previous visitors say. These Balti tribe children are with blue eyes and blond hairs. The army has set up schools there till class 12th and you can see some children going to such schools in army trucks in fact. They will wave their hands to the visitors and with a cute smile and that will give you goosebumps.
While coming back, I crossed the same check post and I saw new army personnel and I asked for the familiar name I had met few hours before while crossing the post. The tall dark smiling face came from the down the bridge with a camouflage T-shirt and was looking fresh after his lunch. I shaken hands, we talked again. I asked his well-being. He reverted with the same. But why he is so important and why I am mentioning about him is something that will make you little emotional.
He was nonother than, an Odia bhai from a southern odisha city. Thousands miles away, when I was fascinated about Indian Army, I met this man with an Insass and when he saw my passport started talking to me in Odia. What could be more proud moment for me !!!
It felt, each member of Indian Army is someone from my family, my city, my state. They are just like us. They never bothered about what we post social media. Not bothered about what political parties claim on their victory and efforts. They don’t bother about how much salary our corporate employees get and how much they deserve. They stay with limited connectivity, limited food, limited resources, limited options. But they don’t complain. They do not show their outrage in Facebook or through open letters. They just stand there, putting their life in stake, keeping the family away, entertaining oneself with nature and with memories.
I have taken a lot of pictures and selfies during the trip but this is my personal favorite. A selfie with the man himself, can’t mention his name. I hugged him and said we all are proud of them. I hugged his friends as well.
I crossed the check post and moved ahead waving a salute and getting few in return, saw a series of army trucks few meters later and I was murmuring the song in mind.
“Kandhe se milte hain kandhein, Kadmo se kada Milte hain,
Hum Chalte hain toh aise jab, Dil dushman ke hilte hain”