This article is based on a personal experience.
The trip from Gangtok to Nathula Pass was pretty expensive, it cost me Rs. 5000 just to obtain the permits for my family of five, not including the 55 kilometres travel by road from Gangtok and all the strain we had to take to reach Gangtok from Chennai. Once my travel agent confirmed to me that this amount of Rs. 5000 was non refundable and there is a good probability that even the slightest drizzle might ruin the trip, I was certainly pissed and all the more skeptical. I was thinking to myself, Why is there so much hue and fuss to reach this specific India-China border ? What was so special about this place and what am I going to witness there ?
The road trip started on a good note with my driver exhibiting some exceptional skills on the treacherous road and certainly stopping at a few spots so that we can absorb the breath-taking views. At every hairpin curve and landslide affected region, I kept wondering the amount of hard work put in by the Border Roads Organization (BRO) in constructing and maintaining these road. It is not only a monumental task taken by the Indian Army, in certain places, it just makes us wonder why did they risk their lives so much just to construct roads and provide safe connectivity for the civilians. The discipline of roads, dedication of construction and safety precaution taken by BRO at every inch of the road made me realize the first step in my limited understanding of the Indian Army’s contribution towards this Nation.
As we kept progressing further in altitude, the weather was definitely not friendly but nonetheless I could see several regiments all across the path ensuring the safety of strategic locations along our borders. Soldiers were hiking casually along these paths, hardly flinching to the ice biting cold weather but at every instance they performed their duty to check our documents diligently and exhibited a pleasant smile on their faces when they noticed tourists were coming to visit them. A father’s care is what I could summarize with the way they communicated with me and my entire family. A soldier by the name of Parmod Kumar was kind enough to explain to me the limits of Indian border and showed me his counter part from People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China who were patrolling the border just a couple of metres ahead of us. He also had such a huge heart the he was undermining his own work at the borders but was all in praise for his colleagues who were laying down their lives in the India-Pakistan border.
Page 2 : The Legend of “Baba” Harbhajan Singh
One of the unique stories which the soldier enlightened me is the story of “BABA” Harbhajan Singh who was considered one of the most dedicated Sepoy who served in the Indian Army during 1968. Soldiers on both sides (Indian & PLA) have reported several incidents of BABA ji’s apparition, while he encourages the Indian Soldiers to protect the borders, the soldiers of PLA are nothing short of being terrified by his sight, so much so that they revere BABA ji much more than the Indian Soldiers. The Indian Army has built a shrine for this young Sepoy a couple of kilometers from the border which is visited by many with sanctity.
Just before bidding adieu, I asked the young Soldier a question, “Sir, Don’t you miss your family ?”.
For which he replied, “Initially for the first period of four to five months, things get a little difficult for us but after seeing so many brothers, sister, mothers and fathers visiting the Nathula Pass, we get used to this life”.
I could hardly control my emotion for this young man whom I have never met in my life but he considered me as brother even before knowing my name. With a respectful shake of his hand and a brotherly hug, I left the place with moistened eyes.
Many Politicians in the past and the latest of them Mr. Mani Shankar Aiyer sure can’t deny making this comment, “Soldiers are paid to die”.
I really hope such people are made to visit these borders to get an understanding of the amount of sacrifice these unsung sons/daughters of our soil make so that we can sleep peacefully in out beds.
Soldiers of Indian army are not paid to be MARTYRS but their are Avatars taken by superior beings on earth to protect us.
JAI JAWANS !!!