Mission impossible had its moments

Mission impossible had its moments

Wg Cdr BS Kalara (retd)

Wg Cdr BS Kalara (retd)

Old soldiers never die, they simply fade away, goes the saying. Having served in the Air Force, the stirrings within kept tugging at me even after I hung up my boots. But the approaching Republic Day reminds of another flag-hoisting occasion, the Independence Day, when I tried to unfurl the Tricolour in a terrorist-infested area of Lal Chowk in Srinagar, which was out of bounds for the people.

In July 2016, came the news that terrorists had given an ultimatum not to hoist the flag there. Those who tried to do so would face the consequences. A youth club of Rajasthan decided to defy the order. I contacted the leader of the organisation who asked me to meet at Jammu. The group was to later reach Srinagar on the afternoon of August 15. I booked my air ticket for Srinagar to be in time for the ceremony.

Later, I received a message from the airlines that all flights to Srinagar had been cancelled in view of the curfew there. I decided to travel by road. Due to problems in communication, contact could not be established with the group. With low clouds all around and streaks of lightning, it started to drizzle. But with determination, I drove cautiously and reached Udhampur late in the evening.

At dawn, I commenced my journey. A group of locals stopped my vehicle and advised me to go back but I continued. Lal Chowk was hardly 13 km when I ran into a naka. ‘You cannot go further, there is a curfew in Srinagar and no vehicle is allowed beyond this point,’ a policeman said. Parking my vehicle at a nearby hotel, I took out my bag containing the National Flag and some eatables and moved towards Lal Chowk through the dingy lanes.

Lal Chowk was hardly a kilometre away and going back would have been disappointing, I reached a military post and narrated the purpose of my visit to the Subedar in charge. He respected my sentiments but was in no mood to let me proceed. Circumventing the military post, I reached the main Srinagar highway. While I was engrossed in my thoughts, a constable approached me.

I was taken to a police post and questioned. I was asked if I had been to Pakistan for arms training or if I knew the technique of making bombs. Nothing could be established even after interrogating me. I was then moved to a hall where I saw people waiting for the disposal of their cases.

A police constable then brought a declaration form in Urdu which I was made to sign before they let me free.

I had mixed feelings. On the one hand, I had failed to hoist the Tricolour despite having driven over 500 km in poor weather conditions, and on the other, there was a sense of exhilaration at having done my bit. The country is free, no doubt, but in fetters. It is the chains that have to be shaken off for its people to realise their potential. 

Top Stories

India records highest 24-hr jump in coronavirus cases; 918 positive now, 19 dead

India records highest 24-hr jump in coronavirus cases; 918 positive now, 19 dead

Working to implement rigorous contact-tracing, containment s...

Punjab doubles coronavirus testing capacity, scales up 112 helpline

Punjab doubles coronavirus testing capacity, scales up 112 helpline

No scarcity of any medical commodity, says govt

Coronavirus: PM Modi announces new fund, urges people to donate

Coronavirus: PM Modi announces new fund, urges people to donate

Donors can visit www.pmindia.gov.in to make contributions

Coronavirus: J-K reports 12 new positive cases; number stands at 33

Coronavirus: J-K reports 12 new positive cases; number stands at 33

Helpline set up for stranded residents in Delhi

Cities

View All

Coronavirus: HC issues notice to Chandigarh Administration over decision to open shops

UT admn defends move, says necessary decision to avoid law a...

Chandigarh admn starts online system for issuing movement passes

Pass to be issued for people involved in essential services ...

Chandigarh: Sector 30 youth tests positive

22-year-old with travel history to Dubai developed symptoms ...