by KParthasarathi Monday, October 15, 2007
Kunal never wavered after he finished his graduation about his career. His dad, grandfather and several uncles had served in the army with distinction. When he decided to join the army, his relatives made fun of his family ‘monopolizing’ the army. It was a matter of genuine pride in the family that Kunal is continuing the family tradition. His only sister Kiran was unhappy and pleaded with him that there are other ways too of serving the country. She was close to him and wanted him to be near her. She has been watching in the TV the loss of young lives in the border and in the areas of insurgency. She was scared but could not express her fears to the other members in the family. She was already being ridiculed as a timid girl born in a martial family.Kunal comforted her assuring her he would be in touch with her regularly.
After the initial training and a couple of years in some postings in civilian areas, he was sent to Northern part of the country. Terrorists and spies were infiltrating from across the border and disturbing the peace of the country side. They were ruthless and cruel people bent upon creating disaffection amongst the people.Kunal and his group were combing the areas relentlessly to flush out the hiding insurgents. It was a risky and never ending job and one never knew where they were hidden. Some locals gave shelter to these under duress and threat.
It was a wintry evening.Kunal was seeing thro his binoculars the distant shanties and mud houses for any prowling figure. He suspected some movements.Focussed as he was in looking for the marauders, he got separated from his other colleagues. It was then he heard a shrill scream”Bachao, bachao”.He could see at a distance three young men dragging a young girl from out of her hut. There were none nearby to help the girl. Her shrieks became persistent but weaker. The three men had AK47 rifles. It was clear their intentions were not honest. For a fleeting moment, Kunal saw before his mind’s eye Kiran’s face plaintively seeking his help.Kunal realized there was no time to lose. They may soon hide behind the bushes with the girl to ruin her life. He knew he had slim chances of overcoming three thugs who are generally sharp shooters. He pictured his sister for a fleeting moment and wondered what he would do in such a situation. Without wasting a moment he took a careful aim and shot the fellow who was dragging the girl. It found its mark. The other two let loose the grip on the girl who started running away. There was immediately a shower of bullets at him. One hit his knee and he could hardly move. He knew they would be coming to get him. He was silent and intently looking for the slightest sound. It was all silent for long time in what looked like eternity. His knee was paining much and bleeding. He then heard a rustle of the leaves nearby and took an aim to fire a blind shot. It caught its quarry unawares. When he fell down screaming, Kunal heard a thunderous shot scrape past his neck. When he fell backwards, he saw the third terrorist aiming the gun at him unsure whether he had hit him already. In a split second Kunal shot him point blank even as the rebel emptied his gun on Kunal.There was a trace of proud smile in his face that he could save his ‘sister’ in time and also kill three terrorists single handed..
While he was given months later a posthumous award for his bravery, none knew of his act of gallantry except his unknown ‘sister’ whom he had rescued.