Reputed Kargil war hero, Col. M.B. Ravindernath, passed away following a cardiac arrest in Bengaluru on Sunday. Col. M.B. Ravindernath, the then commanding officer of 2 Rajputana Rifles, led his battalion to the famous Tololing victory. He was instrumental in flushing the Pakistanis from the Tololing top, something which decisively shifted the momentum of the war in India’s favor.
During Operation Vijay, Col. Ravindernath had been tasked with leading further assaults and capturing the Tololing ridge in the Drass sector that dominated the Srinagar-Leh Road. On 12th June 1999, the 2 Rajputana Rifles’ launched an assault on the Tololing top and Point 4590 under the leadership of Col. Ravindernath. By 13th June, 2 Rajputana Rifles was able to recapture the Tololing feature. The then Chief of Army Staff, General V.P. Malik stated that, “Lieutenant Colonel Ravindernath exhibited dedicated and distinguished leadership qualities.” Col. Ravindernath was also decorated with the Vir Chakra for extraordinary gallantry during the conflict.
Colonel M.B. Ravindernath was a distinguished officer of the Indian Army and had also been decorated with a prestigious gallantry award for his immense contribution. However, it is shocking to the core that the Karnataka government and Chief Minister Siddaramaiah did not even offer condolences on his demise, let alone according the brave-heart a state funeral. In fact, the ex-servicemen and defense forums based in Bangalore have also stated that they have been gravely hurt by this shameless act on the part of the state government. A member of the defense forum also expressed his disappointment and stated: “There have been no condolence messages, no representation whatsoever from the government and other elected representatives.” He further stated that the state government has given a state honor even to a film producer for gathering votes in the past but not to an army veteran. The Indian Army Forum has decided to write to Siddaramaiah expressing their disappointment over the alleged ‘snub’ to Col. Ravindranath.
Speaking on this issue, Shashank Shivkumar, president of the defense forum, stated that Colonel Ravindernath was a true war hero. However, the state government which is in an election mode, has no time to condole the untimely demise of the brave-heart or for that matter send a representative to embrace the family members of the retired officer who are devastated by his sudden demise. It seems that Siddaramaiah and the Congress, who are in the election mode, have totally forgotten that a brave-heart from the state had gone ahead and won what is remembered as the toughest battle ever fought by the Indian Army.
This is the same government that had given a state honor on the death of journalist-activist, Gauri Lankesh. In fact, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah personally attended her funeral. However, nobody had an answer when asked about the contribution of the deceased journalist. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah managed to organise a gun-salute to a journalist who had made no apparent contribution to national growth but failed to even recognise the contribution of an acclaimed war hero who had put the nation above his own life.
It is saddening that Chief Minister Siddaramaiah wants to give state honour to journalists who are ideologically inclined with the Congress but not to war-heroes. Congress has started politicising even the deaths of war-heroes for garnering votes. The Congress has tried its best to blame the BJP and the Centre even about this issue, but it cannot escape its own wrongdoing. It is a settled precedent that it is the state government, including the chief minister of the state which takes into consideration achievements by the deceased in fields like politics, literature, law, science and cinema. Consultation of senior state cabinet ministers is also sought on the matter. It is solely the prerogative of the state government and the Chief Minister to decide on the question of a state funeral.
If film producers, actors and journalists can be accorded state funerals, there should be no two opinions on according state funeral to wartime heroes, especially decorated ones like Col. M.B. Ravindernath. Col. M.B. Ravindernath never dies, wartime heroes are immortal and he will always command huge respect in the country. This was a naïve attempt on part of the Siddaramaiah government to disrespect him. While Col. Ravindernath has been immortalised, the Siddaramaiah government will soon face public fury for this contemptible decision of not even officially recognising the tragic death of the war-hero.
Source: Kargil from surprise to victory, General V.P. Malik, pg. 162.