Capt Haneef: India’s Kargil hero

Captain Haneefuddin
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By Chehak Mishra

New Delhi, June 6: “Ek pal mein hai sach saari zindagi ka; Iss pal mein jee lo yaaron, yahan kal hai kisne dekha,” Captain Haneef would often sing these lines to his troops in the Army camp. And he truly lived by the spirit of this song while he was martyred in the 1999 Kargil war.

Capt. Haneef was eight years old when he lost his father. His mother, a classical singer, worked for Sangeet Natak Academy and Khatak Kendra. Today is anniversary of his martyrdom.

With the infiltration of both Pakistani troops and terrorists, the Kargil war took place between May-July in 1999.

The Army declared mission successful on 26th July 1999, but this victory came with a heavy price. The official death toll on India’s side was 527.

Among the many brave hearts of India who fought until their last breath was Captain Haneefuddin of 11 Rajputana Rifles.

Awarded with Vir Chakra (posthumous), Capt. Haneef hailed from New Delhi and h was a Science graduate from Shivaji college and was also crowned as Mr. Shivaji, which added to his popularity in his student days.

Mountain warfare is complicated with limited transportation infrastructure and mobilization. Pakistani troops had occupied strategically vital heights along the Line of Control (LAC), the de facto military border between India and Pakistan, in the early stages of the Kargil war.

On June 6th 1999, Capt. Haneef volunteered to lead a special mission ‘Operation Thunderbolt’, exactly two years after he was inducted into the Army. He fought with valour and made the supreme sacrifice.

His body could not be recovered till the end of the war from the Turtuk region due to the presence of the enemy and harsh weather conditions and terrain.

Capt. Haneef’s mother, Hema Aziz, was offered a petrol pump which she refused, just like she had refused her son the facility of free uniform after his father had passed away. She waited for 44 days, for her son’s body to be found without any complaint.

“My son paid off his debt to his country,” she said with pride.

In early 1999 the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had visited Lahore (Pakistan) as a gesture of goodwill. Not long after this meeting, India was locked in a battle with Pakistan in the heights of Kargil in Jammu and Kashmir.

India mounted international pressure while the Army cut off the retreat of the Pakistani soldiers who were disguised as militants. Pakistan faced global pressure, including from the US.

It’s the likes of Captain Haneef and Captain Vikram Batra who made the Indian victory in the Kargil war. June 6 is the martyrdom of Captain Haneef.

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