I was deeply anguished by the martyrdom of a young officer Lt Ummer Fayaz of Raj Rif by terrorists while on holiday in Kashmir. An outstanding young officer who showed much promise and had so much to live for, and miles to go as a leader to serve his motherland. As I think of him, cold fury engulfs my senses and guilt overcomes me, for somewhere deep down, I feel, we, his comrades now and erstwhile let him down! He trusted the army, and the nation and would have felt secure and confident in the belief that he was cocooned by the notion of righteousness, and the exhortations of his instructors in the Academy. He was from the 129th NDA course, my alma mater, and from my squadron ‘Delta’. Even though about 100 course apart (I am from 32nd) the kinship is palpable, and I can feel it pulse and throb in my senses. I had felt a similar anger and frustration when we were told that enemy BAT (Border Action Team) had the audacity to touch the body of two fallen comrades in the Krishna Ghati sector of J&K.

As far as I recall, the most solemn and unquestioned duty of every man in arms is ‘Never ever leave a soldier behind’ or ‘Never ever allow a solider to die in vain’. It is therefore imperative that the Indian army avenges the death of Lt Fayaz today, tomorrow or if it takes a decade or more. His killers must never rest, knowing fully day and night, that his comrades in the Indian army will hunt them down come what may. While soldiers and officers die routinely fighting for the nation or battling terrorists, that is a soldier’s death, to accept and be proud off. Many a times I have, with much sadness, yet immense pride and humility, saluted many martyrs on the field, but can never forgive or forget when an unarmed officer is murdered by terrorists or the sacred body of a fallen comrade is violated!

Our operating procedures and training/expertise on the battlefield must ensure that our troops never get separated or isolated. If ambushed, they must react as per our training which is to stand together and fight to finish and always cover each other and be supported. We should stand by our credo of ‘one for all and all for one.’ Comradeship in the profession of arms is sacrosanct and a sine qua non for success in battle. We all have a bounden duty and oath of allegiance that we shall never leave a comrade behind nor let an unarmed or single comrade be cornered by the enemy. This death should remain an unfinished agenda, till the perpetrators are brought to justice. We shall, and we must follow the correct norms of soldiering in achieving this aim, even if that road is onerous and more difficult, because that is the spirit of this fine army and the teachings of our brave and honourable forefathers and fellow veterans. Let us all vow to further improve and hone our skills in service to the nation. Salutations to the valour, sacrifice and steadfast devotion to duty of the brave men who don the uniform of this great army! RIP Lt Ummer Fayaz, and each and every one of our fallen heroes!

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