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'For me, my son is still in Drass and can't come home due to operations'

'For me, my son is still in Drass and can't come home due to operations'

Author: Manu Pubby
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: July 10, 2009
URL: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/for-me-my-son-is-still-in-drass-and-cant-come-home-due-to-operations/487603/0

Introduction: With age catching up, Col (retd) V K Thapar will honour son's last wish one last time

Ten years after Captain Vijyant Thapar died a hero's death while capturing an impossible peak in the Drass sector, his father will make a final pilgrimage to the spot to honour his son's last wish. In his last letter, Vijayant, who fell after taking the 4,700 metre high 'Knoll' peak in Drass had wished that his father could "come and see where the Indian Army fought for your tomorrow".

For the past 10 years, his 68-year-old father Col (retd) V K Thapar has been honouring his son's last wish by undertaking a laborious trek up the mountain in Drass. With the 10th anniversary of the battle coming up on July 26, and age steadily catching up, the retired officer says that he will make one final visit to the spot.

"Age is catching up and I may not be able to go anymore. I wish to make a last trip to the spot and the 10th anniversary is most befitting," Col Thapar says. His son fought battles at Three Pimples and Tololing before he took part in the assault on Knoll as part of the 2 Rajasthan Rifles unit.

"By the time you get this letter I'll be observing you from the sky enjoying the hospitality of apsaras," read the final letter Vijyant wrote to his family minutes before going in for the final assault, adding that he had no regrets and would join the Army again if reborn as a human.

While a grateful nation awarded him a Vir Chakra and the helipad in Drass was named after Vijyant, his father keeps the memory of the brave soldier alive by honouring the two wishes that were in the last letter - visit Drass and keep on giving money every month to Ruksana, a girl in Kupwara who lost her father to militants, for her education.

Months before being rushed to Drass to fight the infiltrators, Vijyant had met the five-year-old Ruksana in Kupwara and had started talking to her and giving her a monthly pocket money of Rs 50. In his letter, he asked his family to continue giving the amount to Ruksana so that she could meet her education costs.

While Col Thapar kept on sending her money for the past 10 years, he met Ruksana for the first time a few weeks ago when she finally came to Delhi. "She stayed with us for a day and it was a very emotional meeting."

"She has grown up and we have been giving the money to honour Vijyant's last wish. Now she has a bank account and we make sure she has adequate money for her education," Col Thapar, who gave the girl Rs 10,000 when she came to Delhi, says.

The retired officer who will make the final visit to the spot in Drass that he calls "a soldier's pilgrimage" misses his son but has "convinced" his mind that Vijyant is out on a long posting and will be back.

"I never think that Vijyant is not in this world. For me, he is still in Drass and can't come back home because of the operations. When the operations end, he will be back and we will meet him," Col Thapar says.

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