Havaldar Jai Prakash Singh

Havaldar Jai Prakash Singh

16 Grenadiers 
Tradition Bound 
Mission: Attacked on the ridges, he kept fighting and tried to evacuate injured colleagues before blown up 

Jay's family could only receive his ashes

On May 29 two soldiers delivered a packet to Ran Singh, 65, a retired soldier in Desalur village, Haryana. It contained the ashes of his son, Havaldar Jai Parkash Singh, who died on the battlefront in Kargil. 

When told that Jai Parkash's body had to be cremated amidst the icy peaks because it was torn apart by enemy fire, all the father -- his voice choked with emotion -- could say was, "I'm proud he got the bullets on the chest." 

It's this Jat pride that keeps the men of Desalur in Haryana's Jhajjar district going. Sending men to the armed forces is a treasured tradition here. No wonder then that 19-year-old Jai Parkash didn't think twice before signing up during an army recruitment drive near his village in 1980. 

His sharp-shooting skills made Jai Parkash the natural choice for the first patrols sent up to probe an enemy occupied ridge on May 8. The patrol came under immediate attack, but the gutsy Haryanvi held his position. He flashed a message to the rear about the attack and was trying to evacuate his seriously injured fellow colleagues when a barrage of mortar shells cut him short. His body could only be retrieved five days later, too mutilated to be transported. 

Sitting in the courtyard of his house, Ran Singh stoically looks at the framed black and white photograph of his son and consoles his wife Piari:"Only the brave die for the country." Jai Parkash's wife Kamlesh has no tears left to shed, as she gathers her two sons -- aged six and eight -- about her. 

But ask her if she will send them to the army and pat comes the reply: "Why not? I am waiting for them to grow up." Ran Singh is equally emphatic. "So what if my son has died, the tradition must not die". He has only one regret: he could not salute his son's body.

-Ramesh Vinayak 


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