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MARCH 2014 ISSUE


A Fitting Tribute

Param Vir Chakra comics are a great start to immortalizing our brave soldiers

By Meenakshi Kumar
 

A Fitting Tribute

When I first came across the Param Vir Chakra graphic novels, I immediately showed them to my nine-year-old daughter. I wanted to know if these would interest her as much as Geronimo Stiltons and Roald Dahls do. The curious little girl that she is, she instantly flipped through the comics and demanded that they be read to her, which I eventually did. She was mesmerised by the stories of Manoj Pandey and Somnath Sharma. After she had heard them both, quietly and patiently, she remarked, “These stories are so different from what I like reading. They were such brave people.” Later I showed these comics to my father, a septuagenarian retired engineer. He was impressed and full of praise for the effort made to immortalise our brave soldiers. His reasoning was that it’s important to bring the stories of martyred soldiers to our younger generation.

I completely agreed with the two. Yes, the Param Vir Chakra comics are indeed a noble and a novel effort. This is the first time that stories of Indian soldiers in combat have been published in a comic form. The idea is definitely to reach out to a wider audience. Whether that happens or not, remains to be seen but one has to laud Major General Ian Cardozo and Rishi Kumar for the idea. After all, these are stories that need to be told.

Let’s take Lt. Manoj Kumar Pandey’s story. His is an exemplary life dedicated to safeguarding the country. The 24-year-old soldier of 11th Gorkha Rifles, who was posthumously awarded the highest gallantry award, Param Vir Chakra, fearlessly threw out the enemy from the Batalik Sector during the Kargil War. A brave and intelligent officer, Pandey found his adrenalin rushing when he was out in the field, either fighting terrorists in counter insurgency operations in Kashmir or fending off the enemy from Indian land in the Batalik Sector. His quick thinking and leadership quality got him to lead a small team which successfully managed to drive away the enemy. Despite being seriously injured, Pandey managed to destroy the last and most formidable bunker of the enemy, and capture the Jubar Top, thus, achieving a landmark victory in the Kargil War in 1999.

The other story of Major Somnath Sharma of 4 Kumaon is equally inspiring. He was the first recipient of Param Vir Chakra, who stopped Pakistan from taking over Srinagar in the Battle of Badgam in 1947. Inspired by his uncle who was in the army, Sharma decided to join the same battalion. After a promising stint in Burma during World War II, where he saved his fellow soldier’s life, Sharma found himself heading to Srinagar. Post India’s Independence in 1947, the newly-created state of Pakistan attacked Jammu and Kashmir, which had chosen to stay independent. Pakistan wanted to forcibly capture Jammu and Kashmir. Sharma led a team which put up a fierce fight with the Pakistani intruders. But before that a stray enemy shell critically injured Sharma, who soon succumbed to his injuries. But his death further motivated his team to successfully drive away the enemy.

These are heroic tales which have been presented in a simplistic manner with corresponding visuals. Maj. Gen. Ian Cardozo has managed, rather successfully, to relate the events chronologically and interestingly. Yet, there is something lacking in the comics, — pulsating, on-the-edge action — and that, I felt, is the biggest drawback. Unlike the famous British Commando comics series, which drew stories from World War I and II, Param Vir Chakra comics fall short on the action and intrigue that war stories, especially in comic format, demand. A lot of the onus lies with the illustrations which have to be brighter and livelier. Somehow, in these two comics, they come across as dull and uninspiring. So even if it’s a great effort made, for the interest to sustain — and more importantly, to hook younger readers to these comics — the storyline has to be punchier with better illustrations. Our attempt at recreating Commando style comics will need some more effort.
Param Vir Chakra: Somnath Sharma
By Maj. Gen. Ian Cardozo/Rishi Kumar
Roli Books
Rs 99


Param Vir Chakra: Manoj Pandey
By Maj. Gen. Ian Cardozo/Rishi Kumar
Roli Books
Rs 99


 
 


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