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Living with war memories that never fade

Ananya Dutta



Param Vir Chakra winners Sanjay Kumar, Yogendra Singh Yadav and Bana Singh in Kolkata.

KOLKATA: Among soldiers it is believed that if you have survived one encounter with death, you will never succumb in battle, so in a way we are immune, says Havildar Sanjay Kumar, one of the three living recipients of Param Vir Chakra.

Indeed, the enthusiasm among the living recipients of the country's highest military decoration for bravery is striking. Havildar Kumar and the two other living awardees – Captain Bana Singh and Naib Subedar Yogendra Sigh Yadav – were in the city towards the weekend for a felicitation by the alumni association of Birla High School.

“I'd love to be on the frontline again,” said Captain Singh, who was the only Param Vir Chakra winner who was serving the Army during the Kargil War.

Subsequently, they were again deployed on the border during Operation Parakram. “But thankfully the situation did not escalate into a war then,” said Havildar Kumar reflecting the old adage that “no one can hate war the way a soldier can”.

The three of them, having met each other every year at the Republic Day Parade in New Delhi as well as at functions organised in their honour elsewhere in the country, are well acquainted and can even finish off each other's stories.

As Naib Subedar Yadav animatedly demonstrated a bullet-by-bullet account of the shots and grenades fired at him by enemy soldiers, Havildar Kumar reminded him of a detail he had missed out.

A decade has passed since the Kargil War and more than 20 years since Captain Singh earned his award during the Siachen conflict, but they remember every detail of the feat that won them the recognition.

“It was a very long time ago,” said Captain Singh when asked to recount the night that he was able to recapture a post on the Siachen glacier that had been intruded by Pakistani soldiers.

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