Shaheed Major Padmapani Acharya’s Last letter to his Father

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Dear Papa

Hope this letter finds you in the best of health and spirits. Thanks for your letter and card dt.14 June 1999… We are already getting ready for our next task. Our unit now has to live up to the higher expectations of the Army, Regt, as well as the media. You know what, even the Chief sent a letter of congratulations to the unit. It was indeed an honour for our unit to have been given such a task. Hard work and a sound ethos does have its merits, don’t you think? We now have to work harder to preserve the hopes and aspirations of our well-wishers.

Please don’t worry about casualties. It’s a professional hazard which is beyond our control, so why worry; at least it’s for a good cause. In the Bhagwad Gita Lord Krishna briefs Arjun on the following lines: Hato va prapyasi swargam, Jitva va bhokshijasey mahim, taduthisht kaunteya, yudhaya kritnishchayaha. (“Die and you will go to heaven; conquer and you enjoy sovereignty of the earth; therefore, stand up, Arjuna, and fight with determination.”)

No we are not air maintained, but food is good and we have a Bengali doctor if not Chinese. Yes the PM’s Kargil visit was a good motivation. Good chap. I am quite a sight now with an unkempt beard and vaseline cream all over my ugly face to counter the icy winds.

Please tell manam (his mother) that combat is an honour of a lifetime and I would not think of anything less. What better way to serve the nation. I am proud to be in the Infantry and esp(ecially) in our illustrious Bn (battalion).

Take care of your health as well as manam’s. Don’t worry and lose sleep. Tell a story a day of the Mahabharata to Charu (his wife), so that your grandchild imbibes good values. Jai Mataji ki.

Yours affly

19 June 1999 Babloo

The citation for the Maha Vir Chakra awarded to him reads:

On 28 June 1999, Major Padmapani Acharya as a Company Commander, was assigned the formidable task of capturing an enemy position which was heavily fortified, strongly held and covered with mines and sweeping machine gun and artillery fire. The success of the battalion and brigade operation hinged on the early capture of this position. However, the company attack almost faltered at the very beginning when the enemy’s artillery fire came down squarely on the leading platoon, inflicting large numbers of casualties. With utter disregard to his personal safely, Major Acharya took the reserve platoon of his company and led it through raining artillery shells. Even as his men were falling to the murderous enemy fire, he continued to encourage his men and charged at the enemy up the steep rock face with his reserve platoon.

Unmindful of the hail of bullets from the enemy’s position, Major Acharya crawled up to the enemy position and lobbed grenades. In this daring assault, he was seriously injured. Despite heavy injuries and unable to move, he ordered his men to leave him and charge at the enemy while he continued to fire at the enemy. The enemy position was finally over-run and the objective was captured. He, however, succumbed to his injuries after completion of the mission.

Major Padmapani Acharya displayed exceptional courage, leadership and spirit of self-sacrifice in the face of the enemy.