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Kargil War hero: A forgotten identity

Posted by Ramesh Khati on July 29, 2009

SILIGURI, 28 JULY: The Darjeeling Hills have a legacy of producing martyrs for the cause of the nation’s territorial integrity. The tradition continues, though, at the same time, the martyrs’ sacrifice fade from memory once the initial excitement wanes. The fate of Linchon Pradhan, who is supposedly the country’s first martyr of the Kargil War, is an example.
Linchon died in harness on 8 June 1999 when he was a mere youth of 20; just married and a proud father of an infant daughter. “The legacy of indifference started the day Linchon sacrificed his life. His body was brought home at Plungdung busty near Sukhia Pokhri on 13 June in a coffin. We had not received prior information of the catastrophe from any quarter. He was cremated almost unsung with no dignitary caring to honour him by remaining present. A decade has passed. The Kargil Day is observed with pomp and grandeur every year. Yet my son remains draped in a pall of oblivion,” said the octogenarian father of late Linchon, Mr Hari Narayan Pradhan, a retired teacher.
According to the martyr’s mother, Mrs Bibilamu Pradhan, they do not expect material gains from the sacrifice of their son. “My husband earns a pension and that is enough to maintain the family. But the air of indifference regarding the first sacrifice in a historic war involving a youth cannot be overlooked,” she said.
Linchon’s elder brother, Mr Suren Pradhan, an ex- Serviceman as well with first hand experience of the blood-drenched border confrontation at Kargil, recounts how the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council heaped humiliation on the memory of his younger brother.
“Neither Mr Subash Ghising nor the councillors cared to visit the bereaved family. However, the state urban development minister Mr Asok Bhattacharya had taken the pain to reach us. He could not make it to our village because there was no motorable road then. He met the family members on the road and consoled us. He also ordered the district magistrate to construct a concrete road in memory of the first Kargil martyr,” he said. “In keeping, a two kilometer long road came up named ‘Shahid Linchon Road.’ Made in a huff without proper planning, it served us somehow until it was nearly washed away in a devastating landslide in 2004. Now, the development has come to a standstill. Everything is being deferred till Gorkhaland comes up,” Mr Pradhan lamented.
Nilima, the martyr’s daughter, has no memory of her father. Pointing at the sky she babbled, “My father is sleeping above in the sky. My mother says so.”

Source:The Statesman


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