Brave Daughters of brave father.

Thanks to Gaurav Sawant for this wonderful article.

Diksha stood proud as she looked at the tricolour flying high at the Kargil war memorial in Drass. There was both pain and pride in her eyes.

She insisted she did not want to cry, because her father Major CB Dwivedi always made her smile when he was alive.

Diksha was barely eight years old when Major Dwivedi, a gunner officer, made the supreme sacrifice in the Kargil conflict.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar (far left) pays homage at Amar Jawan Jyoti on Kargil Vijay Diwas in New Delhi

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar (far left) pays homage at Amar Jawan Jyoti on Kargil Vijay Diwas in New Delhi

Seventeen years later, accompanied by her mother and sister Neha, Diksha Dwivedi visited the exact spot where her father was killed by the Pakistan Army counter bombardment.

Diksha told India Today: “For us this is a pilgrimage. This is the place where our father and so many brave Indian soldiers chose the nation above the family”.

Diksha is a writer and she beats back tears to say her father’s memory always brings a smile back, so no tears.

Indian soldiers patrol in the Kargil sector against a Pakistani-backed armed intrusion into India's side of Kashmir in 1999 (file picture).

Indian soldiers patrol in the Kargil sector against a Pakistani-backed armed intrusion into India’s side of Kashmir in 1999 (file picture).

“This is the first time we have come on Kargil Vijay Diwas. It is wonderful that the army remembers its brave, but it really hurts to have come here in the cover of darkness hiding like thieves,’’ says Neha angrily.

The two sisters – accompanied by their mother – were received by the Army at the Srinagar airport. But given the curfew, stone-pelting and agitation in Kashmir, the Army took no chances ferrying the families of martyrs and war heroes to Drass during daytime.

India lost 527 troops when Pakistani soldiers and Kashmiri militants took up positions on the Indian side of the Line Of Control (file picture)

India lost 527 troops when Pakistani soldiers and Kashmiri militants took up positions on the Indian side of the Line Of Control (file picture)

“We were brought here like thieves at night. Our father chose India above us but the only message I want to give to the stone-pelters and Pakistan-sponsored separatists is – that a lot of blood has been shed in protecting our borders and we will never let Pakistan win,’’ she adds, pride writ large on her face.

Bhavya Pundir, the daughter of late Squadron Leader R Pundir, agrees that coming to Drass at the base of Tololing hill-top is nothing short of a pilgrimage.

“I am very proud of my father. He knew he was flying his helicopter in a very difficult mission. But he chose his love for India above his love for his family,’’ she said.

An Indian Air Force Mi-17 helicopter attacks Pakistan-backed guerrilla positions in the Kargil sector of India (file picture)

An Indian Air Force Mi-17 helicopter attacks Pakistan-backed guerrilla positions in the Kargil sector of India (file picture)

Sqn Ldr Pundir was one of the pilots of the Mi-17 helicopters that was shot down by a Pakistan Army soldier firing a stinger missile over Tololing.

At the memorial service in Drass there wasn’t a dry eye when the young women rose to pay homage to their fathers. But the brave young ladies beat back their tears. They walked with their heads held high. Their fathers had done the nation proud, and the daughters intend to carry their legacy forward.

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