Letters from Kargil: The War through Our Soldiers’ Eyes
Author: Diksha Dwivedi
Price: Rs. 250
Diksha Dwivedi tells us the story of the Kargil war through the letters of the soldiers sent to their family members from the battlefield in her book Letters from Kargil: The War through Our Soldiers’ Eyes.
The author was eight year old, her elder sister Neha was twelve and their mother was thirty-one when Kargil war was fought in 1999. They were spending their holidays in Siliguri, West Bengal. After spending holidays, they were returning Delhi in a train on their way to their home in Meerut. She was surprised to see whole family at the Delhi station to pick them up. She was later told that her father was martyred in the Kargil war. Her father Major Chandra Bhushan Dwivedi was a complete family man.
She tells us the unwritten history of Kargil war through the letters of her father and many other martyrs of the war. Their letters are touchy and book is extremely moving. The letters indicate that the soldiers were concerned about their families even when they were in the battlefield. For them, letters were important means of communication with their families. These soldiers were trying to recapture Tololing, Tiger hills etc. from the Pakistani army. The temperature at that time of the year in Dras and other sectors in Kargil was around – 10 degrees Celcius.
“Through his letters, he held our hand every step of the way, he taught us to create memories and hold on to them while he was away. Now Mummy had to make both Neha di and me feel safe, all on her own. In those days, you’d often find her awake at night, sitting in the drawing room, holding Daddy’s framed picture close to her heart, whimpering, as if she were talking to him to make a mindful decision,” writes Diksha.
As Pakistani army was on the top of hills they had an advantage. In the war it is always difficult for the soldiers to fight enemy who are on the top of the hills. But, through the sacrifice of more than 500 soldiers, India could recapture the mountains. The soldiers were facing adverse climate along with firing and shelling from the top of the mountains but they were determined to win and ultimately they recaptured the mountains. Even from such difficult situation the soldiers were writing letters to their families saying they are fine and everything will be okay soon. These soldiers never wanted their families get worried. At the same time, they were asking their wives and parents to take care of their kids. They used to write letters to their sons and daughters advising them to concentrate in their studies.
She writes,” Major Adhikari was one of the casualties of the Tololing. He had just received a letter from his beloved wife. ‘ I want to read it in peace tomorrow after the operation is over,’ he had said, stuffing his wife’s letter in his pocket before going for the attack with his ten-men team to secure an initial foothold at point 4590 on Tololing on May 30.” He was martyred. “It took many attempts before his body could be rescued. The letter from his beloved remained with him in his pocket, the letter he didn’t know he’d never get to read.” His courage paved the way for the capture of Tololing.
The author says that the Indian army’s victory was based on a foundation of four factors – courage, determination, junior leadership and destiny. Everything else worked against them. “Had it not been for the willingness of soldiers like my father to die for their country, Operation Vijay, as the war was also called, would not have been a success.” Initially, author was planning to tell the stories of more than 500 soldiers but she realized it will be a quite difficult task. She reassessed and finally concentrated on a smaller number.