MAJOR SARAVANAN – A SAGA OF EXTREME BRAVERY ETCHED IN GOLDEN LETTERS IN THE ANNALS OF THE INDIAN ARMY

The Name “Saravanan” is a customary common name as and when you come across men from Tamil Nadu before 29th May 1999, until, the hero of this article, Major Captain Saravanan lost his precious life while combating and killing four Pakistani intruders in the Line of Control during the Kargil War. He was possibly the first Indian martyr to have been killed in the Kargil war.

Major Saravanan was born on 10th August 1972 in the island of Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu. He did his schooling from Kendriya Vidyalayas at GAYA and later completed his graduation from St. Joseph College, Trichy in the year 1992. Being born to Lt.Colonel Adi Mariappan, Army Blood was innate in Saravanan and it was no wonder that he joined the most prestigious Indian Army. Sarvanan, was only 17, when his father met with an accident in Bangalore, after serving with the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka for a couple of years.

Maj Saravanan graduated from the OTA in 1995 and was commissioned into 1 Bihar of the Bihar Regiment, a regiment known for its numerous battle honours.  After passing out of OTA, he was posted to Tamulpur, Cooch Bihar, and Bhutan before moving to Kargil. He was promoted to the rank of captain in 1996 and major in 1999.

Operation  Vijay (Kargil) : 29 May 1999

Major M Sarvanan’s unit was moved from Assam to Jammu & Kashmir for the Kargil operation in 1999. He was excited and wrote to his mother that he had been waiting for just such an opportunity to prove his mettle and would bring home a “Vir Chakra”. Operation Vijay was launched on 26 May and his unit was tasked to capture Point 4268 in Jubar Ridge located on the western side of the Batalik sector, the second highest battlefield in the world after Siachen. The terrain comprised of jagged rocks covered with snow and knife-edge ridges with no greenery.

Following the failure of two attacks, Major Saravanan volunteered to launch the third attack. A frontal attack was the only way. The enemy was well entrenched on heights but the steep climb did not deter him. The attack was launched at 4 a.m. on 29 May with his final command to the men, “Do or Die”. He killed two enemy soldiers by firing a rocket launcher and was wounded in the stomach by shrapnel, but he did not give up. His commanding officer asked him to fall back in view of many casualties. Maj Saravanan replied that he was close to the objective and would not spare the enemy who had killed his men. He added, ‘Nothing will happen to your Genghis’, which was his code name. He charged through a hail of bullets and killed two more enemy soldiers. He was the first to reach the top but received a bullet injury in the head at 6.30 a.m. and fell into a ravine. His unit 1 Bihar took an oath to capture Point 4268, which they did by 6 July. Major Saravanan’s body could be recovered, 37 days after his death, following a bitter fight. The entire Jubar ridge was cleared by 8 July.

He was posthumously awarded the Vir Chakra and it was presented to his mother by President K Narayanan. Major M Saravanan is survived by his mother Amrithavalli Mariyappan, and two sisters  Chitra and Revathy.

The Historical Monument for the “Batalik Hero”, at the heart of his home town, Trichy, has been inaugurated on his 8th Anniversary, 29-05-2007 by Major General Siva Sankar, General Officer Commanding, TNAK&K Area. Smt. Amirthavalli Mariyappan, the mother of the war hero and his family was the first to place a wreath on the memorial, followed by the army officials with full army honors. On the occasion of Kargil Vijay Divas on 26.07.08, the Postal Department brought out a special cover and cancellation in memory of Major M. Saravanan, the ‘Hero of Batalik’. The education department of the Tamil Nadu government has paid its tribute to him by publishing his story in the English Supplementary Reader of Class VII to inspire students to choose Army as a career option. 

Image credit: https://twitter.com/Def_PRO_Chennai/status/1286633977596403712

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