13 years on, a good shepherd awaits recognition

Tashi Namgyal warned the Army about infiltrators in the early days of Kargil War

Updated - August 07, 2014 09:46 am IST

Published - August 06, 2014 11:43 pm IST - PUNE:

Sanzin Gorjay (left), with his father Tashi Namgyal, a shepherd who saved precious Indian Army lives during the 1999 Kargil War.

Sanzin Gorjay (left), with his father Tashi Namgyal, a shepherd who saved precious Indian Army lives during the 1999 Kargil War.

A split-second decision by a shepherd saved valuable lives in the Indian Army when the Kargil War was still in its early days in 1999.

Tashi Namgyal, now 52, has vivid memories of that day in early May, when he accidently chanced upon six camouflaged Pakistani soldiers while searching for his missing yak on the outskirts of his house in Garkon village, near a mountain ridge in Kargil’s Batalik sector. Mr. Namgyal immediately informed the Army outpost.

Since then, while the Army has been grateful to him, the mandarins in New Delhi have been slow in acknowledging Mr. Namgyal’s bravery.

Their tardiness has lasted exactly 13 years — years in which the shepherd has struggled to provide an education for his three children.

“The Army had written to the Centre as early as August 2001. Since then they have assured me of receiving ‘something big,’ but that ‘something’ has not yet come my way,” he says, with a tinge of melancholy.

The Army’s help has helped Mr. Namgyal ride some storms in his life. His 19-year-old son, Sanzin Dorjay, was compelled to drop out of school and Mr. Namgyal had to prod the Army to help him in continuing his son’s education.

Sanzin’s name was recommended by Army officers to ‘Sarhad’, a city-based non-governmental organisation that helps students living in the country’s conflict zones to resume their education.

Hope rests on PM

“We sincerely hope the Prime Minister will take cognisance of Mr. Namgyal’s courage and honour him with a civilian gallantry medal. Civilians who helped the Army in the past, as in the 1965 Indo-Pak War, have been duly granted recognition,” said Sanjay Nahar, founder, Sarhad.

Despite petitions by the then Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Minister, Nawang Rigzin Jora, in 2009 and several Buddhist organisations, efforts to secure Central recognition or assistance for Mr. Namgyal’s gallantry have come to naught.

“One of my daughters is studying in Srinagar and the other in Chandigarh. Small emoluments from the Army have helped me get by. But I hesitate to trouble them for small sums of money. I’m still hoping a Central recognition comes through,” he says.

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