On the road to National Institute of Technology (NIT), Hamirpur from the forest guest house, just opposite the Deputy Commissioner’s residence, little did I know that the place I have been visiting since childhood and was familiar with every nook and corner of it, was a hidden treasure with a forgotten history to it.
As I stopped to buy sweets from a newly opened shop opposite an old Shiva temple, I had witnessed devotees throng the temple, crowding the road that bifurcates into upper and lower Hamirpur, with chiming of bells, but in all this religious fervour something unusual caught my attention.
The road where I parked my car had a hidden story about it. Known as the road leading to NIT or in the opposite direction known as the DC’s road, was actually dedicated to a soldier. A soldier one had never heard off, despite spending so many years in the place.
A cemented board under overgrown bushes and number of pamphlets forced on it, was all that was visible for this forgotten landmark. It had gone into hiding from the limelight of the world, which caught me unaware. I pondered over my ignorance, umpteen number of times I had crossed this part of the road, even halted so many times on the very spot, but never ever I had noticed the name given to the road.
People from all walks of life, trudging from far places crossed this tri-junction, but hardly anyone knew or payed attention to what the road was named. Well they could be justified in their acts of ignorance, as moving on is the way of life, but moving ahead by forgetting your soldiers was something I’m not ready to accept.
So I tried to strike a conversation with the nearby shopkeepers, who were not even aware of any such structure in close proximity to their shops. Little knowledge did they have regarding the name of the road.
“What’s in a name!” was not the case here, as this was not a mere old cemented structure along the roadside, but a dedication and a remembrance in the fond memory of a soldier, who sacrificed his life for the nation. But at this point of time even the locals or natives of his own place could not place his acts of courage and valour.
The cemented structure wore a deserted look, its maintenance was out of question as nobody knew about the identity of the officer the road was dedicated to. It was rather disturbing, a soldier was not only forgotten but the present generations would never know him.
A nation that forgets its martyrs can never progress or prosper. It is because of them we are safe in our homes. For them it is ‘nation before self’, but here was I, standing against the selfless acts of a defender, acting selfish for so long. I decided to have a closer look at the structure, and read out the name of the soldier loud and clear.
It read” Captain Sanjay Dogra Marg“, but beyond that I was clueless. After getting home, and searching on the Internet, I found that Capt. Sanjay Dogra was an officer of 1 Maratha Light Infantry, who attained martyrdom in Op Pawan on 13 Jan 1989. Then I was not even a 10 years old, but for so many decades, the sacrifice and name of martyred soldier was neglected under an unkept board.
Memorials are built and martyrs are forgotten. With each passing day a new name in the list of those martyred is added. And I guess we are becoming pretty used to it, taking our saviours for granted. Our memory has become short-lived when it comes to our soldiers, after observing a silence of two minutes, we move on.
Naming of roads after martyrs was probably done keeping in mind that the roads are sign of a progressive nation that are symbolic with the living and breathing culture of a country. They are part of our daily lives and so are our soldiers, an indispensable part of our country.
So next time, while crossing the National Highway to Hamirpur, or taking a walk down the road, do give a glimpse of respect for the martyred soldier. That’s all, what is required.
Always remember :
“Land of the Free, Because of the Brave”
Anjali, with a masters in English is a teacher on a sabbatical, loves travelling and spending time in the lap of nature, observing its bounties and being thankful to the hills.
Thankyou for writing this. Forgetting our brave soldiers is very unfortunate. I remember Sanjay as a friend who was about to return home after his regiment was getting back from terrain duty. This was not to happen as he was martyred in an ambush in Sri Lanka. The saddest day of our lives. Feels very sad when we see this callousness from the State which he belonged to.
We miss you,Sanjay
First of all a big thanks to you for making the effort and bringing these facts on the social network
He was family, I can vouch for all that you’ve written and much more which is impossible to put in words…for all that he was and will be ..for eternity. It’ll be my pleasure to be in touch with you and share more about the Hero…
I am obliged to madam Anjali who noticed and tried to search hidden story of Capt Sanjay Dogra . Thanks for bringing the story of Sanjay Dogra in public . I am his sister from Shimla sharing few lines about brave Sanjay Dogra. Captain Sanjay Dogra was from Hamirpur. Now his parents are settled in Shimla. He studied from St. Edward school Shimla and plus two from BCS Shimla. He was brilliant student . He joined NDA ,kharagawaasala and then IMA, Dehradun and passed out in 1986. He joined 1 Maratha light infantry. He was sword of honour . He was awarded with best young officer in YO course . Immediately after his first posting their battalion was shifted to SriLanka where he made supreme sacrifice at the age of 23 . On the request of my father , municipal committee Hamirpur has made small cemented structure in the memory of Sanjay Dogra in 1991 engraved as capt. Sanjay Dogra marg . Government did not maintain this for a long time. Recently before COVID it was repainted by us . We wish to upgrade the structure by ourselves in near future. This is small story about Sanjay . I hope many of us now will come to know who was Sanjay – sushma Bhardwaj ( sister )
I was a classmate of Sanjay Dogra at BCS. We all wanted to become doctors engineers lawyers but here was a guy who wanted to serve his country. Not only did he get into NDA but he won the sword of honor. He gave his life so we can live safely.