Khaira: Each year on Kargil Vijay Diwas, students of Sahupada Project High School under Basta block in Balasore district are in for real war-like excitement when they listen to their teacher Gopal Chandra Sahu narrating the days of immediate Kargil war aftermath when he was working as a wireless operator at Uri sector in Jammu and Kashmir.
This time is no different.
A native of Jodagadia village of Baunsagadia panchayat under Khaira block in Balasore district, Sahu was posted at Uri sector as a wireless operator at the time of war.
“It was July 31, 1999. Even though the Kargil war was just over, a kind of palpable tension was very much there at the border. It was at about 12:00pm when a van carrying me and six other soldiers of Rashtriya Rifles was moving towards our site of operation. We were passing below a hilly corridor. All of us were alert as there was every possibility of attack by infiltrators from their trenches atop the hill,” recollects Sahu.
“As luck would have it, the driver of the vehicle we were in could sense a projectile being launched towards the van from the hilltop. In order to avoid being hit, he steered the van to roadside and the vehicle had a head on collision with a huge tree,” Sahu adds.
The shell exploded just 10 meters ahead. We thanked the God and obviously the presence of mind of our driver. Though we escaped the sure death by a whisker, the dash against the tree injured us, Sahu narrates.
“I suffered fracture in my right leg and spinal cord. Subsequently I was admitted to Srinagar Army hospital where I underwent surgery. After being bedridden for two months, I was discharged but was no longer able to serve my motherland. Later, I was transferred to Kolkata and took voluntary retirement from my job September 28, 2008 despite my desire to serve for the motherland longer,” says Sahu.
He shows the scar of the injuries, saying those scars will keep him reminding of those tense days.
Sahu completed his schooling from Kupari school. Whenever he was asked by his teachers about his career aspiration, his prompt answer was to be a soldier. Since childhood he had a desire to serve the motherland. He rewalised his dream by joining army in technical trade December 31, 1991 and after completing the training at Jabalpur, he was posted at different locations including Ganganagar, Bareli, Nagaland and Ladakh.
One joins the army to serve the motherland. It shouldn’t be considered as a job. Serving motherland and working at a minus twenty degrees Celsius temperature gives one a different perspective of life, he concludes.