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After 14 years, memories still fresh in Major’s family

S. Sandeep Kumar
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Major Padmapani Acharya was attached to the Rajputana Rifles and was given the task of capturing Lone Hill during the Kargil conflict. He fought a brave battle until he succumbed to grenade injuries sustained on his neck and chest. Major Acharya was posthumously awarded the Maha Vir Chakra

Retd. Wing Commander Jagannath Acharya and wife Vimala Acharya at their residence in Hyderabad on Wednesday.
Retd. Wing Commander Jagannath Acharya and wife Vimala Acharya at their residence in Hyderabad on Wednesday.

June 21 was his birthday, and he spoke to his family members over phone. Little did they know it would be his last telephone call. Seven days later, on June 28, 1999, the family of Major Padmapani Acharya received a phone call from the Indian Army, saying that he had fought bravely in the Kargil war and was no more.

It has been 14 years, and memories are still fresh in the Major’s family. “You have to accept the inevitable and adjust accordingly. It is tough to digest, but we all are proud of him and miss him,” says his father Jagannath Acharya, a retired Wing Commander.

The strong and courageous Major Padmapani Acharya was attached to the Rajputana Rifles, which had the task of capturing Lone Hill.

Unmindful of the hail of bullets and grenades being tossed, he led his troops in conquering the peak. But he succumbed to grenade injuries sustained on his neck and chest. He was posthumously awarded the Maha Vir Chakra, recalls Jagannath (74), who says that the Kargil Day still disturbs him a lot.

Padmapani’s wife Charulatha Acharya and daughter Aparajita live with Jagannath at Hasthinapuram on the Nagarjuna Sagar road. Incidentally, Charulatha was pregnant when the tragic news came. The girl is now studying in the 9th Standard at a local school.

The government has sanctioned a gas agency to Ms. Charulatha at Rajendranagar, and she is busy taking care of the business. A community hall and a road, too, have been named after the Major in the locality. Padmapani’s mother Vimala Acharya recalls her son as a jovial person and a voracious reader. “As a mother, I am definitely sad and hurt but as a patriot, I am proud of my son. He lives forever, whereas I will not. He made me promise that I would not cry when he left for the front,” she says.

The Major did a course in Hotel Management, but he had a passion for the Army.

Despite the supreme sacrifice made by their elder son, the family’s tradition in serving the Armed forces continues. Padmasambhav Acharya, younger brother of Major Padmapani Acharya, is a colonel with the Rajputana Rifles. “Now that the Army has opened its gates for women. I would love to see my granddaughter join the Army,” says Mr. Jagannath Acharya, proudly.

S. Sandeep Kumar

Major Padmapani Acharya was attached to the Rajputana Rifles and was given the task of capturing Lone Hill during the Kargil conflict. He fought a brave battle until he succumbed to grenade injuries sustained on his neck and chest. Major Acharya was posthumously awarded the Maha Vir Chakra

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