A Kargil War Hero you must read about

Kargil war, Soldiers, Heroism, Bravery
Kargil war, Soldiers, Heroism, Bravery

This is the story about a hero whose daughter gets agitated on how easily we have forgotten him, especially every time she sees his name plate stuck on to her notice board. It is a black name plate with letters engraved onto it in white — C B DWIVEDI in capital letters — in English and in Hindi.

 She says she comes across several articles on the ‘Heroes of the Kargil war’, but never finds his name in any of those. After 16 years of patience, she has picked up journalism- only for him. He’s the reason she wants to make a difference and doesn’t expect anything in return from the world. So this is his story, as narrated by her-
His life wasn’t a waste and we all must thank him for the life we’re living.
Army is a profession. Actually, it’s more than that. It’s a way of life. It’s like giving a job to somebody worth a million rupees, and telling him that — “Hey you might just die tomorrow”. Even for a million bucks, one may not find many takers. It takes a lot to choose ‘army’ as a profession. Once in the academy, one also gets a chance to choose a fighting arm or any other. So it takes a lot to CHOOSE to be on the front and take the bullet for your countrymen. Yes, the hero of this story did exactly that. He picked up Artillery.
He served the Indian army for 18 years; today one can become a Col in that much time. Had he been around, he could have been at some high post too. Maj. C.B. Dwivedi was an officer who did not bother sleeping during wartime; he never forgot to write letters to his family, faking his well-being, even during war. His last letter to his wife went something like this:

“Dear Bhawna,

Sweet Kiss.

 […]

A lot of news shown on TV is true but a lot of it is false. So don’t believe in it completely, just believe in God. […]”

This was sent two days before he sacrificed his life for the country. He was a complete family man and his wife was the boss of their house. But it’s him who had spoilt her. Even when he would call from Srinagar, he would say “chota baby kahaan hai” and the children would call their mummy quickly. Doesn’t mean he wasn’t a doting father. He used to plan his leaves during exam time for his children. They were so dependent upon him that one of his daughters didn’t know how to, as little as prepare for her exams without him.

His daughter still fails to understand how he sounded so carefree in his letters amidst all that chaos during the Kargil war. She remembers him calling them from the satellite phone and talking about the bad weather in the background.  She says she has never found a man so selfless as him and the day she finds one, she will marry him.

Not all units are employed during every war. During the Kargil war, Artillery and Infantry were employed majorly. Gunners belong to artillery. And Maj C.B. Dwivedi was a proud Gunner. He would sit bravely at the top of the artillery gun (a weapon that’s big enough to be a tank), fearlessly facing the enemy, throwing reigns of fire at them from dusk till dawn. Yes this is how the Kargil war was fought — at night, when the world was sleeping peacefully, the Indian army was on duty.

Early morning of 14th May 1999, 315 Field Regiment (Kargil) was deployed to Drass, and the Kargil conflict came as a shocker. It was the most unexpected war in Indian history. Mr. Dwivedi’s wife and daughters had gone to see him in their summer vacation and the surprise was — we only got 12 hours with him. He later mentioned that in one of his letters to Mrs Dwivedi, where he says:

“Even though the meeting was short, only twelve hours, it was really nice seeing you. I’ll see you guys soon.”

The harsh truth is that his family never saw him again, had they known those were the last twelve hours they were spending with him, they would’ve done so much more instead of just eating lunch and dinner with him in the mess. Mr. Dwivedi was a true romantic, a true comedian, a true chef sometimes, a true father but before all of this, he was a true soldier. His jawans loved him for he was the one motivating factor they had in their life during war. Until he was behind 315, the unit suffered only two casualties during the Kargil war.

315 was the first artillery unit to be inducted into the war zone. And he was the officiating Second in Command during that time. Operation Vijay (the Kargil conflict) was a tough war, mainly because of lack of information, the underprepared army and the strategic positioning of the cowards who had intruded into our land disguised as civilians.

The first day the regiment arrived at the base camp in Drass, there was a reign of fire that fell upon them. As one of his friends (Col Upadhyay, who spent every second with him in his last days) recalls, the unit had no idea where the enemies were sitting. He remembers saying the following lines to Mr. Dwivedi that night:

“Sir, we’re in big trouble.”
There was absolutely no information about the positioning of the enemies, the army was sent to the war zone blindly. With Tolling on one side and Tiger Hill and Point 4875 on the other, they had some massive planning to do.

His unit, 315 field regiment, was responsible for supporting operations for 1 Naga, 8 Sikh, 17 Jat and 16 Grenadiers that went on to finally capture Tololing, Point 5140, Black Tooth, Tiger Hill, Point 4875 (Gun Hill), Mahar Ridge and Sando Top in Drass — Mushkoh Valley. And Mr. Dwivedi as Second in Command was responsible for complete survey for artillery units to come in, he used to take off every morning to look for empty spaces around highways in order to park the vehicles and artillery units coming in. He was also responsible for proper communication to bring in ammunition, coordination for firing, and war survey and dumping plans. The time between 14th-31st May were the toughest days for the unit, they had to fire at one place and quickly move on to another location, this was an ongoing process in those days.

The only free time he had was spent on staring at the map and devising plans for their next move. But he still wrote letters. He never forgot doing that.

With the responsibility of infantry units over their shoulders, 315 often faced two choices at night — either you stop firing and wait till morning in your bunkers/tents or keep firing and protect the infantry units. Mr. Dwivedi mostly chose the latter. The artillery didn’t even have bunkers, they were staying in tents. And Gunners don’t have much choice to hide when they are firing because they are sitting right at the top of their artillery guns facing the enemy, looking at them eye-to-eye. That’s where he sat. Right at the top. Fearlessly.

Even Indian aircrafts were shot down during this time, this is when Squadron Leader Ajay Ahuja lost his life on May 27th 1999, which was the biggest blow to Indian army. But what had to be done had to be done.
The children had seen their daddy commanding an Operation in Udi once and they couldn’t stop laughing. He was far, far away and had allowed us to sit on top of a hill and look at him at work. He was walking around with his hands crossed backwards, like a true soldier with his back straight commanding the soldiers. And the daughters kept giggling saying, “Daddy is just taking a walk ordering people around.”

They had been too young to understand what a terrific leader he was. That day, he came back because the enemy had waved the white flag (to declare peace). He was always a winner.

It was the evening of July 2nd 1999, when 315 was hit by yet another dilemma — to continue firing or to stop firing but the infantry units (18 Grenadier and 8 Sikh) would’ve been in serious danger had they stopped.  He again chose the former; he rushed out of his tent and motivated his boys to keep firing, to keep at it. He knew how difficult it would be to get through this but he had to make the tough choice. It was either protecting himself or protecting a whole unit — he chose the latter. It’s the madness in a soldier’s blood that most of us will never understand. He was mad.

He sat at the gunner’s position and continued firing facing the enemies, just when a shell landed right next to him. He was hit on his arm. He realised that. But, what he didn’t realize was that some of them had pierced his arm and entered his body from the sides. In the heat of war, a soldier doesn’t feel his pain. Maybe, that was the reason. As a result, he suffered a lot of internal bleeding but kept thinking it’s just his arm.

In this shelling, he and four of the other gunners suffered fatal injuries while the Gun Position officer and the Troop leader suffered from non-fatal ones.
He was the only 2 IC in that time who was single-handedly overlooking so many operations in that terrifying war zone. The day used to start at 2.30 am for 315, when they moved around in the hills on their vehicles with the headlights switched off. Such was the danger they were exposed to. The heroes of 315 brought home the victory and received an honorary title as well but could never get the well-deserved appreciation from the country, from the people who were probably sleeping quietly in their homes because they were risking their life at that point. They were the backbone of the war and so were never remembered again.

Tiger Hill was the last stop for the Indian army, Mr. Dwivedi could not see the tri-colour flag flying high but he could sense the victory from wherever he was at the time. He was a huge part of it and no media can take that away from him.

His family was shattered down with the news on the 2nd of July 1999, everyone left in the house hd always been a young bunch of kids to him, including his wife, she was only 34 then. But, his spirit in some way picked us up every time we fell. It’s been 16 years to that day.

As the three await the invitation from the government to celebrate Vijay Diwas in Drass someday with them, let us all salute every one of them because of who India is alive today.

Our hero, we salute you.
The post was originally written by Diksha Dwivedi.

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