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"If you stay, you will find peace. You will find a wonderful woman, and you will have sons and daughters, who will have children. And they'll all love you and remember your name. But when your children are dead, and their children after them, your name will be forgotten. If you go to Troy, glory will be yours. They will write stories about your victories in thousand of years! And people will remember your name. But if you go to Troy, you will never come back....for your glory walks hand-in-hand with your doom. And I will never see you again."


- Thetis's last words to her son Achilles before he departed to fight in the Trojan War 


In the summer of 1999 Mrs Amirthavalli Mariappan of Tiruchirapalli (Tamil Nadu, India) waved goodbye to her son. Like the the mythological mother Thetis, Mrs Mariappan's goodbye was filled with sadness, since she knew that there was a possibility that she might never see him again. Her son was 26 year old Major Mariappan Saravanan who was a soldier in the Indian army. She had already lost her husband, who served and died for his country when Saravanan was just a young boy, but despite her loss and fears she never discouraged her son from following his dreams. Like the hero Achilles, since the day he could walk, Saravanan dreamed of serving his country and glory on the battlefield. His last words to her were, "Mum, I'm going to get you the Vir Chakra", an Indian medal awarded for ultimate acts of bravery on the battlefield. She knew that if she wanted to she could stop him from leaving but like Thetis she knew her son had a date with destiny. That destiny was the Kargil War. 




In case you've been living in a cupboard for the last 60 years, India and Pakistan hate each other. They're like the international equivalent of Tupac and Biggie Smalls; constantly talking smack and questioning each others parentage. One of the main reasons for this hate was a small region located between both countries called Kashmir. Kashmir is a mountainous region, filled with people who refer to themselves as "Kashmiri", the main reason being that they have no fucking clue what country they belong to. India claims it's theirs, Pakistan says otherwise, both spending the last 60 years fighting over it. 



The shit hit the fan in the summer of 1999 when anti-Indian Kashmiri insurgents and Pakistani paramilitary soldiers crossed the line of control, infiltrated the India controlled region of Kashmir and captured several Indian fortresses. Within a matter of days, the Indian army based in Kashmir was surrounded and their supply lines were cut off. The Indians only had one option; recapture those fortresses at all cost. 


The Kargil War had begun. 


Major Saravanan was part of the First Bahir regiment, an elite unit that had been ordered to attack and recapture a well defended Pakistani fortification in the Batalik sector of Kashmir. I'm going to assume that most of you have not visited Kashmir and probably picturing the lush, green glassy slopes depicted in the movie Dil Se with hot Indian women running around in wet saris? Well you're wrong! This place is more along the lines of Sauron's crib in the LOTR films, Mordor. 



If you don't keep your shit together in this part of the world you're gonna be in a world of hate.


Prior to Kargil, Major Saravanan had served with the Bahir regiment for 4 years and earned the codename 'Ghenghis Khan'. Unfortunately I have no information on what he did during those 4 years - its classified, but I think it's fair to assume there was a lots of parachuting into enemy territory, bursting through windows, killing terrorists with his bare hands and of course, walking away from massive explosions in slow motion. 



Ok, I have no proof that he did all of these things but in all honesty there are only three ways you can earn the nickname 'Genghis Khan' - (1) You're Mongolian, (2) You have penchant for raping and pillaging across China or (3) you're a balls to the wall, stone-cold badass. Based on what I'm about to describe, I'm 100% confident he fell into category three. 


The fortress that Major Saravanan and his men had been ordered to capture was not some lightly defended bullshit; it was jammed packed with battle hardened Pakistani special forces armed to the teeth with automatic weapons and heavy artillery. To make matters worse, the fortress was located 14,000km (4000m) above ground level. This was basically a suicide mission but Major Saravanan didn't give a shit; he had a date with destiny and this one man  killing machine wasn't planing on being late! 



On May 28th 1999 at 0400hrs, Major Saravanan and his men charged into a volley of bullets and artillery shells. For the Pakistani's it was like shooting fish in a barrel and the Indian forces were ripped to shreds. Within a matter of minutes, Major Saravanan and his men were hemmed in, surrounded and being used as target practice. The commanding officer who had originally sent them on this suicide mission panicked and ordered Major Saravanan to retreat via radio


"Genghis Khan, fall back!!" came the order


"Not today, sir" was the reply


Major Saravanan and his men were trapped and under intensive fire. If by some miracle they could escape and make it back to HQ he knew that it would just give the Pakistani's the opportunity to regroup and make their fortification stronger, potentially costing more Indian lives in the future. It was now or never. There was no way back and he knew he had two options; get killed running away or die fighting. He rallied his men, got out from behind the rocks they were covering behind and charged the enemy, guns blazing! 



The Pakistani's upon seeing this cyclone of Tamil ass-kicking coming towards them and probably wondering "WTF is wrong with this dude?" increased their rate of fire. Just like the intro scene from Saving Private Ryan, bullets were zipping past people heads, bombs were exploding and men were getting torn to shreds. Major Saravanan himself was hit by a large piece of shrapnel in the leg and a bullet in the abdomen, but the badass simply "walked it off", picked up a rocket launcher and blew up several enemy gun turrets. When he run out of rockets, he pulled out his side arm and started wasting the enemy with a relentless series of gun shots. 


With the rest of his men pinned down by heavy weapons and despite now receiving numerous bullet wounds, the crazy badass kept going. Eventually he was only 200 yards away from the Pakistani strong hold. After taking down several more of the enemy he collapsed to the ground and laid their motionless. A few of the Pakistani soldiers thinking it was now safe, left their bunkers and ran up to Major Saravanan's body to finish the job. BIG MISTAKE!! He wasn't dead; the crazy fucker was just catching his breath! He picked himself up, pointed his gun at the four soldiers charging him...CLICK CLICK...shit he was out ammo! Surely his days were numbered?! Wrong! He threw away his side arm and then proceeded to beat the shit out of the four soldiers dumb enough to come near him - Steven Segal style (minus the crap pony tail). Within minutes all four were lying dead by his feet. The dude dusted himself off, and kept moving towards the fortress. Although by this time, he had lost so much blood it was more along the lines of stumbling and crawling towards the fortress. 



It was at this point one of the Pakistani soldiers, having seen his comrades getting brand new ass-holes torn out of them and a Tamil Terminator slowly walking towards him, probably said to him self "Fuck this shit!!" and then pulled up a sniper rifle and shot Major Saravanan in the head. On May 28th at 0630hrs Major Saravanan was killed in action, his body laid nestled in the snow less than 200 yards away from the base he was ordered to capture. 


However, his death was not in vain. Although having been on the verge of retreating, his remaining comrades in the Bahir regiment having witnessed and been inspired by his courageous act of bravery vowed not to runaway and fight to the end. To the battle cry of "Bajrana Bali Ki Jai" they launched another attack on the fortress that saw them not just take the fortress but drive the Pakistani's all the way back into their territory. 



On the 15th August 1999, the Vir Chakra was awarded to Major Saravanan posthumously and presented to his mother by President K.R. Narayanan. In addition, he was awarded the title 'The Hero of Batalik' by a grateful Indian Army and a war memorial was created for him in his home town of Tiruchirapalli. 


Although sad that she will never see her son again, Mrs Amirtavalli Mariappan took solace in the fact that he died a hero, fighting in one of the most brutal wars in Indian history. His name and story of extreme bravery had been etched into the annals of Indian history and like the legendary hero Achilles, he will never be forgotten.