Navigating through flood-affected areas during monsoon and battling typhoid, two college students from Bengaluru pedalled for more than 60 days covering 3,200 km to pay homage to the martyrs at the war memorial here on the 24th Kargil Vijay Diwas.
Inspired by the heroics of Army Captain Vijayant Thapar, who died in the Kargil war, the duo undertook the journey and reached out to National Cadet Corps (NCC) units along the way to spread awareness about the sacrifices made by army personnel.
Krishnan A, a BBA student of Ramaiah College, and Peddi Sai Kaushik, studying BCom at St Joseph's University, are NCC cadets and aim to clear the Combined Defence Services examination to join the armed forces.
"We started the expedition in May and reached the Kargil War Memorial on July 24, two days before Vijay Diwas. It took us over two months. The journey was really difficult but the moment we were here, it felt magical," Krishnan told PTI.
They took the Kanyakumari-Srinagar highway (NH-44) hoping to finish the journey before monsoon.
"But by the time we reached Punjab, it was flooded and we thought we wouldn't make it. My cycling partner got typhoid during the journey and that slowed us down for two weeks. I met an accident and for some time we had to take rest. But it was worth the effort," he said.
The duo's excitement know no bounds when upon arriving in Dras, they were honoured and given VIP passes to attend the wreath-laying ceremony on Vijay Diwas.
"On New Year, I was reading a book about Captain Vijayant Thapar who was martyred during the war and was greatly inspired by him. He was awarded the Vir Chakra. I asked my family to name five others who had won a gallantry award. They couldn't name any. When I asked my friends, they went blank too.
"That’s when we realised that there is a need for awareness, apart from just a day or two of attention for warriors who sacrificed their lives for our nation," Sai Kaushik said.
The Indian Army had launched a fierce counter-assault, Operation Vijay, to push back Pakistani forces that had stealthily occupied important heights in Ladakh in 1999.
The war saw Indian armed forces fight in the most challenging terrains amid harsh weather conditions in Drass, Kargil and Batalik sectors.
Kargil Vijay Diwas is observed to mark India's victory over Pakistan.
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