Capt Kanad Bhattacharya was the first Kargil martyr from West Bengal.
23 years have passed ,but the battle still continues, only the battle field has changed.
Here is a brief about this daring young gun and what happened with him during Kargil war:
Capt Kanad Bhattacharya hailed from Baranagar in Kolkata, West Bengal. Son of an Income tax officer, Lt Kanad was born and brought up in Tala area near Shyambazar. He studied in St. James School and graduated from SA Jaipuria college in Kolkata.Was a keen sportsman during his school days Lt .Kanad played cricket very well. He also had an inclination towards Martial arts and was a karate black belt holder.
Lt .Kanad always nursed the idea of joining the Armed Forces and ultimately translated his dream into reality. He got into the Army through Officers Training Academy(OTA) and was commissioned into 8 Sikh of the famed Sikh Regiment, one of the oldest regiments known for its intrepid soldiers and numerous battle honours. As his first assignment after commissioning, Lt Kanad got posted to the unit which was deployed in J&K and got involved in the Kargil war.
Kargil war: 21st May 1999 – A fateful night:
There were reports about Pakistani infiltration in May 1999 and Lt. Kanad Bhattacharya’s unit was deployed along the LOC near Tiger hill. By the third week of May 1999, the legitimacy of these reports was proven and it had been established that the infiltration had been done on a large scale in various sectors, including the Tiger hill area.
Consequently, on 21st May, Lt Bhattacharya was entrusted with the responsibility of putting his foothold on a northeastern ridge near Tiger Hill. The route was inaccessible and was fully covered with snow. While Sepoy Major Singh was climbing up, he detected movement of intruders coming down with heavy weapons towards them. The intruders started firing at the patrol with heavy automatic and sniper fire. Lt Kanad Bhattacharya and Sepoy Major Singh divided the patrol into two groups and started engaging the intruders from different positions there by displaying outstanding professional competence. The heavy exchange of fire continued between Lt Kanad’s patrol and the intruders.
Lt Kanad and his troops kept constantly returning the fire with great zeal,full poise and determination. In the firefighting, a number of patrol members including Lt. Kanad received multiple gunshot wounds. later he succumbed to his injuries and was martyred. The patrol could not come back and was declared missing in action on 21st May 1999. The body of SS-37818M late Lt Kanad Bhattacharya was recovered from the action area on 15 July,1999 buried in snow, after the Indian forces had captured the Tiger Hill. He was a gallant soldier and a brilliant officer who laid down his life in the service of the nation at the young age of 25 years.
Lt Kanad Bhattacharya was awarded “Sena Medal” (Posthumous) for his courage, unyielding fighting spirit and supreme sacrifice.Capt Kanad Bhattacharya, the first Kargil martyr from the city, was cremated with full military honours at Nimtollaghat in North Kolkata. Braving a steady drizzle, hundreds of people, mostly youth, gathered at the historic crematorium since morning to pay their last respects to the 25-year-old hero.
An ex CDS aspirant from 18 SSB, Shantanu Munshi , who saw Lt.Kanad first time in a Army rally and since then a great fan of this Bengal Tiger.Shantanu , a friend of Lt. Kanad also a resident of north Kolkata shared his thoughts with a heavy heart.
“I hate to put late word with any of our brave hearts who let down their supreme sacrifice for the country. Every soldier who lost their life for the motherland is Amar Jawan and you cannot call them late as the flame is burning bright in the heart of the Indians forever.Captain Kanad Bhattacharya was like my brother as I was also a aspirant of CDS and got through the written to appear 18 SSB but medical and final could not went through but Kanad had the blessings to serve for our motherland.Now the bridge and Bus Stand near his home getting ready it must be named after Kanad Bhattacharya to put the right role models informs of our youth. Now a days only antinational and thieves are getting the highlights, which is dangerous for the society and the country too.””Hope government will pay attention to the request to make the right step to offer some respect to our national heroes. I propose Captain Kanad Bhattacharya Bridge is the right tribute to the National Hero.” – Shantanu Munshi added.
As a Bengali, I feel shocked that none of the local media has covered this news commemorating the supreme sacrifice of this young soldier from Bengal in Kargil war, whereas we find day long media coverage of so many less important issues !
Inputs and Pictures- Indian Army
( Author- Pratyusha Mukherjee, a senior Journalist of a reputed Western media based in Kolkata.)