Rashmi Rekha Das

Today is the Kargil Vijay Diwas...The Vijay (victory) that was possible only because of many heroes like Captain Vikram Batra, Captain Anuj Nayyar and Grenadier Yogender Yadav who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty and made India win. 

On July 26, 1999, the Kargil War came to an end, with Indian soldiers successfully recapturing mountain heights that had been seized by Pakistani intruders. There were many more who laid down their lives during the war. It was their raw valour and steely resolve that gave India a decisive victory.  

Notably, 527 Indian soldiers were martyred and 1,363 wounded in the war spanning over two months. Odisha too lost quite a few brave jawans whose deeds of bravery have made them heroes forever. 

While Major Padmapani Acharya remains the most celebrated hero of the Kargil War from Odisha who was posthumously awarded the Maha Vir Chakra, the second highest military honour, there are many jawans who got wounded but yet to come to limelight. 

As the nation remembers its war heroes and pays tributes to martyrs on 23rd Kargil Vijay Diwas today, OTV brings stories of Odisha-born martyr Sachidananda Mallick and a few jawans who were injured in the battle. 

Naik Sachidananda Mallick
Naik Sachidananda Mallick was the fifth Odia to have made the supreme sacrifice in the war. He is survived by his wife Nibedita and a son. Nibedita says she feels proud to be the wife of a soldier.  

Recalling the last visit to Kendrapara of Sachidananda, who laid down his life on June 28, 1999, Nibedita says, "1999 Holi was the last day I spent with Sachi. He had come home on leave. We enjoyed a lot of fun in Holi. He left for duty on the very same day. When I came to know about the war, I sent a telegram to him to enquire about his wellbeing. I got a response from him June 12. He said he had reached Kargil without problems and asked me to take care of our son. I used to write a letter to him every day. I got his last letter June 24. He assured me, ‘I am fine wherever I am now. Don’t worry for me and take care of yourself and the boy. The void created with his disappearance will always remain."

Naik Sachidananda MallickNaik Sachidananda Mallick


Nibedita had a short but very blissful conjugal life with Sachidananda. 

Nibedita, who now runs a gas agency, travelled to the Kargil War Memorial site to pay tribute to my husband.  “The memorial, built by the Indian Army in the memory of soldiers who laid down their lives in the Kargil War of 1999, has names of 559 martyrs including my husband. I spent only five years with my husband. My son was just three when my husband left us. I lived with the dream of paying a visit to the memorial at least once in my life. Our Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had assured me that my travel expenses would be taken care of but nothing materialised. I have lived all these years without Sachi and spoken about his gallantry to my son. Thanks to the Indian Army for arranging my visit to the memorial in 2018. They not only honoured me, but also gave me a cheque of Rs one lakh for my husband’s supreme sacrifice.”

Sachidananda’s only son Soumya Ranjan has lived with just a hazy memory of his father. “For me, my father is my hero. I was only three when I lost my father. I can’t recall how he looked but I miss him a lot. Whenever I see children playing with their fathers, it doesn’t make me sad, but it brings a smile on my face because I can see him in their joy,” he says.

Soumya came into the limelight after he wrote an open letter to his father that was published in a magazine.  

Havildar Prasanna Choudhury

Prasanna Choudhury, a resident of Berhampur, left for Kargil two months after his marriage. He was on vacation when the Indo-Pak conflict broke out. Recalling those days, he says, “I joined the Indian Army February 25, 1991 when I was pursuing Plus II and was posted in Kashmir as a jawan. I got married two months before the war. I joined my battalion April 20 and reached Kargil May 24 from where I was sent to Moscow Valley the next day. We freed 5,815 metres of Tiger Hill May 28 and spent four days without food. We never felt hunger pangs during those days. Despite facing death at every step during the war, we were not scared of losing our lives because we were accompanied by a few brave soldiers who kept encouraging each other all the time. Victory was our ultimate goal.”

Narrating his experience, Prasanna continues: “Instead of taking food and water, we felt it necessary to carry more munitions with us. We walked the whole night and took shelter during the day. On May 27, we captured a major portion of Tiger Hill. On June 28, five of our jawans were killed and 25 got injured. Naik Sachidananda Mallick and Srinivas Patra from Odisha were martyred in the war. I was with Srinivas when he laid down his life, but I survived. On July 10, I got a letter from my family but was unable to reply. After three months of war, I returned home. My family members were clueless about my whereabouts till I reached home. Learning about Srinivas’ death, my mother-in-law became unconscious.”

Havildar Debendra Biswal

Retired army Havildar Debendra Biswal was one of the injured jawans from Odisha. He joined the Indian army after his graduation in 1989. He was posted in West Bengal soon after joining. He was in the Dras sector when war broke out. 

“Being a jawan, I was not afraid of consequences and was ready for an assault on the enemy. I was part of the group which was to climb Tiger Hill. It was a 90 degree climb. We were surrounded by death on all sides, we knew we were going to die, but were determined to cause maximum casualties to the enemy. We kept moving forward with this spirit. God kept me alive to speak about the bravery of my colleague Srinivas Patra who lost his life in the war. He was very close to me. Seeing him dying was very painful for me. But the situation was such that we had to leave him alone and accomplish the mission. Srinivas joined the troops at Kargil on the fourth day after marriage and, sadly, never returned.” 

Debendra continues: “I worked in the Intelligence sector from May 21 to June 6 during the initial days of the Kargil War. We had to dig up roads to reach our destination and hide ourselves during the day. On June 7, we launched an attack on the enemy killing 35 of their jawans. It is the moment I would like to cherish forever.”

Havildar Bhubani Sethi

Havildar Bhubani Sethi deserves a special mention because of his patriotic spirit. Upon being asked how he kept himself motivated at a time when death was almost certain during war time, Bhubani Sethi, replies with a proud smile, “When your nation, your fellow jawans are fighting alongside you, you get motivated spontaneously. At that time our foremost priority was to protect nation and its citizens.”

His three brothers had joined the Indian Army. But he was only person to get the opportunity to take part in the war. He was in Moscow Valley during the Kargil War. 

“During wartime, you can’t afford to think anything other than your nation. I was the radio operator on the day when my dear colleague Sachidananda Mallick became a martyr. I got the news first and it was hard to believe. Also, I had to carry the body of another fellow soldier Srinivas Patra on my shoulder. Death of the fellow jawans who belonged to Odisha made me determine to take revenge. When I was on my way home accompanying the body of Srinivas, somebody spread rumour about my death. My family members were devastated. They just could not believe their eyes when I reached home.”