Major Mariappan Saravanan

Major Mariappan Saravanan

Acting Major Mariappan Saravanan

They still lie where they fell. 

Dead. Killed In Action. Victims of a war they never wanted. 

The bodies of Acting Major Mariappan Saravanan and a soldier can be seen on the snow where they were killed on May 28 night. But their colleagues have not been able to recover them yet. Heavy firing from the heights -- the very heights that the major was trying to free from intruders -- makes the task difficult. 

"We made several attempts to retrieve the bodies of our dead colleagues," says an army officer, "We will have to get their (that of the intruders)heads down a bit before we can try again. We don't want more casualties." 

The army's concern about casualties is stronger since Monday. "Heavy casualties" have been reported in the Batalik region in overnight operations on Sunday, which spilled on to the next day and is still continuing. 

The official casualty figures are "33 plus five" on Monday -- 33 soldiers and five officers. But army sources admit on Tuesday that the figures have "crossed 40, around 50." 

"Saravanan was leading a small assault group when he fell," sources say, "We hope to recover the bodies shortly." 

Ironically, if it had not been for the war, the 26-year-old major, would have been either readying to travel to Trichy, his hometown, or already there -- he was to get engaged in June. From 1 Bihar regiment, he was a short service officer commissioned in March 1995.

Acting Major R S Adhikari, another officer killed belonged to 2 Mechanised Infantry. He had been deputed for a year to the 18 Grenadiers, now fighting a battle in bitter terrain. His deputation was about to end. May be, if the action had started a little later, he would be alive now... 

Major Adhikari has much in common with Major Saravanan. He too was 26. He too fell in the same area. And he too considered June a good month -- the 9th was his first wedding anniversary. 

Army officers say over 30 bodies have been recovered till now. The majority has already been flown out, while the most recent ones are on their way to Srinagar. And the air-strikes are still on, with the Chorbatla area, where fresh intrusions were reported a few days earlier, coming in for attention. 

Meanwhile, Major Saravanan and the jawans continue to lie in the snow. 

Maj Sarvanan died after killing 10 
HT Correspondent (New Delhi, July 10) 

Major M Sarvanan, the hero of Batalik, was finally among friends. Martyred on May 29 after wresting two bunkers from the enemy, Maj Sarvanan’s mortal remains lay out of the reach of his men until July 3. All this while members of 1 Bihar, his unit, fought valiantly and desperately, having taken an oath to not only recover his body but also the Indian heights from the infiltrators. Success was theirs on July 3 when they brought the hero home. 

Maj Sarvanan had led a platoon up the Jubar Hills on May 29. While he was able to take back two bunkers the rest of Jubar Hills was under enemy control. One of the platoon members accompanying Maj Sarvanan and the only one to survive the attack, was Naik Shatrughan. He was hit on his legs three times and it took him ten days to crawl back to base. He gave the unit the information of how Maj Sarvanan died after killing at least four of the enemy in hand-to -hand combat. Naik Shatrughan later died in the field hospital because of gangrene. 

Maj Sarvanan is possibly the first officer to fall in the Kargil conflict. The attack led by him came in the early stages of the conflict when adequate information was not available. There was little artillery support and no aircraft cover. 

The men in 1 Bihar took an oath after Maj Sarvanan’s death to fight to the finish and recover the heights. to the battle cry of ‘Bajrang Bali ki Jai’, they launched subsequent offensives and now the unit has not only taken the heights but is sitting atop the LoC. Yesterday they captured Point 4058. 

Since the news of Maj Sarvanan's death reached his family— he is an only son—they have been waiting for his mortal remains. The body will be flown to Trichy tomorrow. 

Along with Maj Sarvanan, two other bodies were recovered. These are of Naik Ganesh Prasad and Sep Pramod Kumar. 

The wreath laying ceremony was conducted today at Delhi Cantonment. 

Nation's third highest wartime gallantry award VIR CHAKRA was awarded to Major Mariappan Sarvanan on 15th August 1999.

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