Service No: SS-37536
Date of Birth : Dec 31, 1972
Birth Place : Bangalore
Last Rank: Major
Unit :21 Jat
Arm/Regt : The Jat Regiment
Operation : Op Parakram
Date of Martyrdom : Aug 02, 2002
Major Sylvester Rajesh Ratnam hailed from Bangalore and was born on 31st Dec 1972 to Shri Rajkumar Ratnam and Smt Hemala Ratnam. He was a student of Bangalore’s St Joseph’s Boys High School and graduated from Christ college in Bangalore. Nicknamed as “silly” by his friends, Maj Sylvester was a very jovial person and was very popular among his friends and comrades.
Maj Sylvester’s father served as a police officer and his grandfather had served with Indian Air Force. Maj Sylvester always had a dream to serve in the armed forces and he continued to pursue his dream after his graduation and also during his brief employment with Jet Airways. Finally, his wish came true when he was selected to join the Officers’ Training Academy in Chennai and passed out on 05 Sep 1998. He was commissioned as a Lieutenant into 21 Jat of the famed Jat Regiment, an infantry Regiment known for its gallantry and various battle honours.
He was an intrepid & highly motivated officer, who always led his men with tremendous dedication & zeal. He soon gained expertise in battle craft skills and evolved into a committed soldier and a fine officer. His unit 21 Jat moved to J & K in Oct 2001 and by then he had been promoted to the rank of Major.
Op Parakram: 02 Aug 2002
During 2002, Maj Sylvester’s unit 21 Jat was deployed in Kupwara district of J & K along the LoC as part of “Op Parakram”. The AOR (Area of Responsibility) of the unit fell in the part of LoC that was very volatile with frequent cross border violations. The area was prone to infiltration by the militants and the Pakistani forces often resorted to cross border firing to help the infiltration attempts. 21 Jat battalion had to launch regular armed patrols to check infiltration attempts in its AOR. Besides enemy firing, the troops also faced spells of hostile weather which invariably played havoc with the communication lines and other military equipment deployed in the area. On 02 Aug 2002, few soldiers were tasked to repair the damaged communication lines of the unit, which had gone unserviceable owing to inclement weather. As the repair operation was underway, the Pakistani troops launched unprovoked firing in the Keran sector.
Maj Sylvester who was in a nearby bunker realized the imminent danger to his soldiers and rushed out of the bunker to move them to safety. He directed the soldiers to immediately jump into the bunkers to avoid direct hits. Maj Sylvester without caring for his own safety, made way for the soldiers to get into bunkers. However while doing so, an enemy shell landed near him and he got severely injured having received multiple splinters. Maj Sylvester later succumbed to his injuries and was martyred. By his action, Maj Sylvester showed exemplary courage, camaraderie and leadership in saving the lives of his fellow soldiers. Maj Sylvester was a gallant soldier and courageous officer who led from the front and laid down his life in the line of his duty.
Major Sylvester Rajesh Ratnam is survived by his mother Smt Hemala Ratnam and sister Dr. Joseline Ratnam.
Mrs. Hemala Ratnam, mother of Maj Sylvester Rajesh Ratnam paid tribute to her son on his “Day of Martyrdom” on 02 Aug 2018...
Though my son, Maj Sylvester, left this world 16 yrs ago, he still lives in my heart and comforts me as and when needed through his memories. I thank the Almighty God for blessing me with a wonderful son like Sylvester. Thank you, Lord ! for you are good & your love is eternal. I believe that my dearest son Sylvester was your loving creation and is now enjoying eternal bliss.
Right from his childhood, Sylvester wanted to join the Army and serve his motherland. His joy knew no bounds when he had got commissioned as an Army officer on 05 Sep 1998. He soon evolved into a committed soldier and a fine officer, respected by all his unit personnel. He gained the reputation of being a highly motivated officer, who always led his men from the front with tremendous zeal.
He showed his leadership skills and camaraderie on 02 Aug 2002 also, when he saved the lives of many fellow soldiers before falling to enemy’s shells. Though as a mother I feel the pain of his absence many a time his sacrifice for a greater cause fills me with pride and gives me the strength to bear that loss. I feel proud of him and hope that his heroic efforts will inspire many youngsters to follow his example. Today Sylvester not only occupies a very respectful place in the pages of a nation’s history but also lives in the hearts of his mother, sister, and many friends.
Sylvester, my child, your words, and deeds will continue to inspire me to remain a proud soldier’s mother forever.
Mrs Hemala Ratnam