Some soldier with a funny bone at 102 Infantry Brigade (Base Camp) will tell you that Siachen means ‘Rose Garden’. Its true. Maybe its funny, in a self-deprecating sort of way. Most soldiers crack jokes, which only they can understand.

It’s been a violent year, both emotionally and physically. Never was the Indian Army attacked by those that they loved. Except for this year. We won the wars fought on the Line of Control and across. We lost those fought inside our country, because those who attacked us were our countrymen.

When I was in the army my Commanding Officer told me that we must never fear death. He told us that dying for the nation was a unique honor, which was accorded to a lucky few. He told us that when we went home wrapped in the tricolor, the nation would weep. And, he told us that they would remember our names forever. We would become immortal.

My CO was a simple soldier. He had fought wars and shed blood. For him, dishonorable conduct was unthinkable. He would often admonish us and say “This conduct in unbecoming of an officer of the Indian Army”. To him, life was simple. You defended your country and its people, and if you were martyred, there would a stone with your name at the Kumaon Regimental Center at Ranikhet. That was all that we aspired to. A stone with our name at Ranikhet.

When the situation seemed hopeless, he would simply say “Yeh Major Shaitan Singh aur Major Somnath Sharma ki Regiment hai”. These words were enough. 17 Kumaon would pick itself up, bleeding and bruised, and launch itself again into battle. It was always about “Izzat”. Honour of the nation, the regiment and our forefathers who had been martyred before us in countless wars and insurgencies.

Rezang La. Badgam. Walong. Bhaduria. Names, which ordinary Indians had never heard of, were temples around which our lives ceaselessly revolved. After all, what was life without honor?

2016 has been a different year. Movie actors say that the soldier signed up to die. Politicians want proof that we hit terror camps across the border. The expert, that Lutyens Delhi breed, so adapt at passing judgment wants to know how the army ‘allowed’ itself to be attacked at Uri, Nagrota and Pathankot. Opportunists, who never once so much as looked in the direction of a soldier, have shed crocodile tears over an unfortunate suicide. Bureaucrats have an opinion on the appointment of the army Chief. This year, the Indian Army has been constantly in the news for all the wrong reasons, and none of it for its own doing.

I want the experts, politicians, bureaucrats, TV anchors and sundry actors to know that what they say in public damages morale of the soldier. It denudes and degrades the soldier’s will to fight. It shatters his self-esteem. It dishonors him. A soldier without honor is not a soldier. It is a dead body.

I am an unknown soldier. I have fought for over a hundred years, killing and dying. In unmarked graves across Europe and in the fetid and humid jungles of Burma, you will find my memories. In desolate, wind swept mountain passes and in the bone-bleaching furnace of the Thar, you will discover that I could not be defeated. Across the salty seas and terror-infested landscapes, I was mostly the hunter and sometimes the smell of the dead body on the third day.

Why do I do what I do? I don’t know how to explain. In this mad world of smartphones and Twitter, undefined relationships and loneliness, I inhabit a world that smells of cordite and warm blood. It’s a different world. It’s a world in which people will die because you ask them to, sometimes for the flag, sometimes for the anthem, and often for the fallen heroes of battles fought eons ago.

If you honor me, I will be grateful. If you don’t, I will still fight. If you give me nothing, I will fight with my bare hands. Major Shaitan Singh lives.

That is all that I aspire to; a stone with my name at Ranikhet.

Happy New Year, India.

Major Gaurav Arya (Veteran)

17th Battalion, The Kumaon Regiment

Indian Army

#MajorGauravArya #IndianArmy #adgpi


Author: Major Gaurav Arya (Veteran)

Soldier. That’s all.

14 thoughts on “A STONE WITH MY NAME”

  1. You touched the soul again Major, as usual. The internal enemies infest us from within. ” Ghar ka bhedi Lanka dhae ” . But the winds of change have started, gathering slowly. Hope the next year brings a massive storm of that lost courage and awakening and we ,as a nation rise again.

    May God help and protect our heroes in olive green.

    Jai Hind


  2. MGA, not dying itself, but pledging to die for the nation if need be is the unique choice that makes you immortal. Each of you who make that choice hold a very special place in our hearts. We hope you know. It is sad that what some politicians or actors speak is what our brothers at the border get to hear. Drowned in the dramatics of those selected few are the sentiments of a nation and all that we truly care is that our brothers who are out there on the hunt, come home safe and victorious. If you could know what we thought then you would have known that you have never been fighting a lonely battle. MGA, those you loved never ever attacked the Indian Army. Please don’t let the opportunists represent this nation. Please don’t let the noise of the pseudo intellectuals drown our voice.You will never lose the battles you fight beyond the borders or inside the country because you are Indian Army and we, whose voice you can’t hear because do not have the reach like some celebrities, are India. They hurt you because that is the only way to beat you. They want to demoralize and dishonor you because then they can break us up. They ignore martyrs and martyrize victims so they can devalue the sacrifices of our brave hearts. But they will not win. Because they are not India. We are. And you shall never fight alone. You will always find a billion beside you. Jai Hind


  3. Despite all odds and hurdles in 2016 the Indian Army prevails. It was shameful indeed when they asked for the proof of surgical strikes. As always the Indian Army maintained a dignified silence when a sharp reply would not have be unwarranted unnecessary.

    History needs to be re-written. Our nation’s children need to be taught the sacrifices made by the proud soldiers of this great country after India’s Independence.

    Major Gaurav Arya, thank you for your continued service to the nation.


  4. Dear Major Gaurav Arya ,

    Such is the Aura of our Armed forces that I on my trip to Kasmir walked up to 2 soldiers who were outside a park and told them “Thankyou ” and that ” we are so proud of you”. I was reluctant initially , had my inhibitions to approach and talk to someone I don’t know at all but I also knew that I would never want to let go of this opportunity to meet the real heroes of our country.
    Thankyou for your inspiring write ups and for the selfless service you do , Jai Hind


  5. Really nice write-up saab, Josh type as well as heart touching. This war memorial at Somnath stadium is an inspiration for soldiers of Kumaon Regiment as well as civilians also. I am from Ranikhet many of my friends and family members are serving in Kumaon Regiment. Somnath stadium, Narsingh ground and Rezang la ground motivates me and many like me to join army. No matter what film star, netas and bureaucrats say about army, one thing I can say for sure that patriotism is in the blood of Kumaonis and we are always ready to defend our country from any aggression internal or external.
    Jai Hind

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wish I had a son, whom I would ve gladly joined in Army!! My younger daughter always had strong zeal to join, but she inherited faulty eye sight from me!! Am the culprit!!


  6. Thank you for writing this Maj Gaurav. Your words are powerful enough to move me to tears.

    But there’s this: Can honor be granted? I believe it can only be acknowledged. And that a lack of acknowledgement has no power to diminish the honor. The honor remains, forever a part of the honorable. That’s the one thing the dishonorable don’t know.


  7. I served as RMO KRC Rkt 1984-87. The Comdt used to ask me to explain about the battle paintings and the regimental silver to the guests. Proud to know you. Saw young officers leading their men bravely in Siachen and in the Valley even when injured.

    Liked by 1 person

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