There was a boy called Ayush Yadav. He was a field Captain in the Indian Army. You can tell a service officer, that they are different from others when they stand in a group of boys of the same age. It is not the hair cut that stands out. It is the honour that the uniform brings that makes them stand out. When most boys of their age are refining their resumes for a job, these boys chose a life that embeds honour as a way of life.
Honour in uniform
Honour in society
Honour to stand guard for the motherland
Honour in being a soldier.
Uniform portrays purpose, duty and makes you responsible to the trust that the 125 crore people bestow in you. That trust is a very big purpose to bear.
This boy “An Officer & a Gentleman” stood ground and as a true soldier lived and died guarding that trust. The slow march of six officers of the same rank in ceremonial uniform as Paul bearers carried the coffin that contained the mortal remains of Ayush. Saturation coverage in television stirred the nations conscience. There was not a tear from anyone. Each one had pride in their being while they honoured the coffins with flowers.
A boy from Kanpur Ayush did all that any brat of his age would do. But this boy had a spark, he joined the service about eighteen months ago. The column of four officers split into two each in slow march and crossed the final door of Chetwood Block at Indian Military Academy. When Ayush started the split there were a set of four MiG-29 aircraft that roared over the academy giving their final ceremonial salute to the academy colours. Ayush looked up the door sill, the sparkling brass alphabets shone with the words “Through these portals have walked the finest soldiers of the Indian Army”. His name was called out as he walked past. His mother who was sitting in the audience, had a tear in the eye. The parents were called to the assembly area to pip their respective children.
Tradition goes that the parents wear the first rank on their wards shoulder. His father to the right and mother in the left, each with a star in their hand unbuttoned the shoulder flap. It is one scene for anyone to experience, parents cry with tears of joy. Ayush was standing in attention as he was pipped. Once done, he gave his first salute to his parents. That salute was duty and tradition, then comes the family love. Instinctively the family closes in and a warm embrace happens. It is a scene that melts hardened hearts.
His first posting at Kupwara with his entire life ahead Ayush reached his field location and was on duty standing a post with his men. It was at 04:40 AM that the strike happened. It was over in 35 minutes. Three terrorists struck the camp, two of them were dead. At the end of it Capt Ayush lay dead due to injuries sustained. Alongwith him two more soldiers too were martyred. JCO Bhoop Singh and Hav Venkat. A boy from Kanpur, a JCO from Rajasthan and a Hav from Vizag, all lay martyred. A grenade blast took them out towards the end of the operation.
At the military hospital, the formalities done and the Commanding Officer called the home of Ayush and informed his dad. There was silence from the other end. Sir…..excuse me……Sir…….aap sun rahe hain. The CO asked. A reply came from his dad, in our area……in a fight, we prefer to die with injuries in our chest. Could you arrange to send him to us please. The CO could feel the choke in the father’s voice, but pride in his tone. Yes Sir…..he said.
A Dornier aircraft was launched from Srinagar to Chakkeri airport. Ayush was boxed in a coffin with the national flag draping it. News of his death was all over the media. There was a overwhelming crowd from the airport to the cremation area. Army and Air Force paid their honours, Chief Minister’s office sent its envoy to pay their respects, people from all walks of life paid homage. Traffic stopped in the otherwise indisciplined city of Kanpur. Kanpur mourned, UP mourned and above all, India mourned as the ceremonial gunfire happened and the pyre was lit as the military band played the last post.
The mother’s first tear came when she saw her son consumed to one of the elements.
Heart rending is a small word.
Rest in peace brother. You gave yourself today to preserve the freedom that we all enjoy. As a soldier, my salute to you. Lucky are the few who get to be adorned by the national flag on death. Rest are all lesser mortals.