July 26th is Kargil Vijay Diwas, and this year will mark the seventh anniversary of Operation Vijay.
Recalling Kargil hero Major Ajay Prasad's valour, his father, retired defence psychologist R N Prasad, spoke to UNI on the occasion.
'Nothing can aid us now except an aerial attack,' were the words spoken by Major Ajay Prasad on the morning of May 19, 1999 -- the day the Mechanised Infantry officer gallantly fell fighting Pakistani regulars in Avantipur area of Kargil sector.
Pride and grief jostle as Dr Prasad pauses to take off his glasses and wipe away the tears.
"On May 17, Ajay sent a message to his seniors to rush more forces, but it was in vain. The following day he repeated his message as it was his view that the fight was not against terrorists but trained soldiers of Pakistan," the Bhopal-resident says at his Arvind Vihar residence.
"Air strikes were launched only days later but had they started on May 18, many Indian lives could have been saved.
Major Ajay was a fighter, but the situation was unfortunate,'' the martyr's father feels.
Pointing out that insurgency never stops unless struck with a mailed fist, the defence psychologist adds that a comprehensive security cover ought to be provided to Kashmir's local populace so that they overcome their fear and begin disclosing details that will enable the army to emerge victorious in the war against terror.
"While stationed at Akhnoor, Ajay performed his duties so judiciously that not a single jawan under his command suffered any injury even by chance. He was always first to plunge in where danger lurked and kept his men behind him,'' Dr Prasad says.
The drawing room of Dr Prasad's home is decorated with medals bestowed on the officer. One of them is a replica of an ancient warrior presented posthumously on 'Bank Diwas' -- July 1, 1999 -- by the State Bank of India and bearing the legend 'Shaheed Major Ajay Prasad ke balidan ko naman'.
"Commissioned as a second lieutenant into the 18 Rajput Regiment in June 1988 after training at the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun, he was asked to report to the 13 Mechanised Infantry at Trincomalee in Sri Lanka during the Indian Peace-Keeping Force's Op Pawan," Dr Prasad narrates.
While later combating Kuki militants in Manipur, the officer received warnings no less than four times. One of them said: 'Major Ajay, you have old parents, a beautiful wife and a lovely child. You better look after them. Our struggle was on even in the British era and will continue.'
"In the post-Kargil period, the martyr's wife was provided a job as lecturer in the local Sarojini Naidu Government Girls Post-Graduate (Nutan) College but later remarried and shifted to the cantonment town Jabalpur along with her daughter," Lieutenant-Colonel (retd) Suresh Chandra Dixit -- who is District Sainik Welfare Officer and Secretary, District Sainik Board (DSB), Bhopal -- told UNI.
Regarding what the army could do to help the kin of martyrs, he says: "It will be beneficial if the army canteen facilities are also extended to parents of martyr officers."
It is the society's responsibility to look after this segment.'' concludes Dr Prasad, whose other son is a commander in the Indian Navy.