Service No : IC-58522
Date of Birth : June 29, 1976
Place of birth : Palampur Dist(HP)
Service : Army
Last Rank : Captain
Arm/Regt : The Jat Regiment
Operation : Op Vijay ( Kargil )
Martyrdom : June 9, 1999
Capt Saurabh Kalia hailed from Palampur district in Himachal Pradesh and was born on 29 June 1976. Son of Shri Dr. N K Kalia and Smt Vijaya, he had a younger brother Vaibhav Kalia as his sibling. He finished his schooling at D.A.V Public School in Palampur and got his bachelor’s degree in medical sciences from H. P. Agricultural University, Palampur, in 1997. Capt Saurabh was excellent in academics during his student days and won various scholarships throughout his academic career.
Capt Saurabh was selected for the Indian Military Academy, in August 1997 through Combined Defense Services and was commissioned on 12 December 1998. He was commissioned into 4 Jat of the Jat Regiment, an infantry regiment known for its fearless soldiers and numerous battle and theater honours. As his first assignment, Capt Saurabh was posted to J & K where his unit was deployed in the Kargil sector. He arrived there in January 1999 after reporting at the Jat Regimental Centre, Bareilly on 31 December 1998. He joined the unit as a Lieutenant and was promoted to the rank of Captain on the battlefield at the age of 22 years.
Kargil War (Op Vijay) : May-June 1999
During 1999, Capt Saurabh’s unit was deployed in the Kaksar area, just short of Kargil overlooking the National Highway 1D. In the early part of May 1999, unusual movements were noticed in Batalik-Yaldor sector and consequently, Indian Army units had commenced aggressive patrolling of the area in their AOR (Area of Responsibility). Similarly in the first two weeks of May 1999, several patrols were conducted in the Kaksar Langpa area of the Kargil district, to check for the presence of intruders and also see if the snow had retreated enough for the summer positions to be re-occupied. On 15 May 1999, Capt Saurabh Kalia was tasked to lead a patrol to Bajrang post, which was part of the unit’s defences but was usually vacated during the winter. Capt Saurabh Kalia and five other soldiers – Sep Arjun Ram Baswana, Sep Bhanwar Lal Bagaria, Sep Bhikha Ram, Sep Moola Ram and Sep Naresh Singh set off for the Bajrang post as planned.
After a continuous crossfire with Pakistan armed forces from across the LOC, Capt Saurabh Kalia and his troops ran out of ammunition. They reported this matter to the base camp and called for reinforcements. However, before the troops could arrive, they were surrounded by a platoon of Pakistani rangers and captured alive. The Indian troops found no trace of the patrol party and launched a massive search operation to locate them. Meanwhile, Radio Skardu of Pakistan announced that Capt Saurabh Kalia had been captured by Pakistani troops. This event led to the discovery of hundreds of guerrillas, who had established fortified positions on the peaks of the hills deep inside the Indian side of the Line of control, with sophisticated equipment and supply lines back to Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.
Capt Saurabh Kalia and his men were in captivity from 15 May 1999 – 7 June 1999 for about twenty-two days and subjected to torture as evident from injuries to their bodies, when they were handed over by the Pakistani Army on 9 June 1999. The postmortem examination revealed that the Pakistani forces had tortured their prisoners in gross violation of the Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners of war.
On 9 June 1999, Dr. N K Kalia received the body of Capt Saurabh Kalia, handed over by the Pakistani army to Indian army commanders at the Kargil sector, with evidence of torture. Capt Saurabh Kalia was a valiant and committed soldier who laid down his life in the service of the nation. Capt Saurabh Kalia is survived by his father Dr Narinder K Kalia, mother Smt Vijaya Kalia and brother Shri Vaibhav Kalia.