Sunday, October 28, 2012

1965 War Wounded: A Day to Remember

1965: A love and war story which overcame handicaps
Arun Janardhanan, TNN | Oct 21, 2012, 03.03AM IST
CHENNAI: On a pleasant Saturday morning, Kamalam (70) held what remains of her husband K E Sherif's hand to guide him around the Officers Training Academy in Chennai. The couple joked and smiled, not showing a trace of the devastation the India-Pakistan war has had on their lives since 1965.

Sherif, then a 28-year-old jawan in love with Kamalam, lost both his arms below the elbow and both his eyes in a landmine blast while his battalion was crawling towards enemy posts near Sialkot. Incapacitated, Sherif decided not to marry, but Kamalam insisted that she would have a life only with him. On Saturday, Sherif, a father of three, was among the Army veterans brought together by the War Wounded Foundation in the city on Saturday.
"His was a miraculous escape, and I was fortunate to get him back alive," said Kamalam, "We were in love for two years. And then the war happened. Every one was against our marriage since I was a Hindu Malayalee girl and he a Tamil Muslim. But I would not leave his bedside as he was undergoing treatment." The two first met when Sherif, a friend of Kamalam's soldier brother, visited their house in Bangalore.
Despite Sherif's injury Kamalam insisted that they tie the knot.
Soon after the couple first met at the house of Kamalam's brother in Bangalore their romance bloomed. But, Sherif was called to the battlefield not too long after this. Though the 1965 war did not resolve the Kashmir conflict, Sherif proudly recalled his sacrifice for the country and appealed to the youth to join the Army.
He recalled that October night that plunged him into eternal darkness. "It was October 19. Six of us were crawling towards an enemy target in Sialkot, about 25km from Labore. Around 9pm, an air strike triggered a series of land mines near us. We were all believed to be dead. But all of us escaped, only I was severely injured," said Sherif, who lives in Coimbatore.
He was shifted to an army hospital in Jammu where doctors removed the mutilated parts of his forearms to save the rest of his body. Nothing could be done to save his eyes. As he underwent multiple surgeries for a year, Sherif knew life would never be the same again. He told Kamalam that their marriage was now not possible, but she would have none of it. Coming to know that Sherif was% recuperating in Coimbatore, she went there and convinced him to get married. They tied the knot in 1967.
Their 38-year-old son works for a soldiers' welfare board in Salem, while their two daughters are homemakers. The War Wounded Foundation brought together several such living martyrs of Independent India.Colonel (retd) T N Raman, convenor of the Tamil Nadu chapter of Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement said soldiers from all major combats including the Indo-Pakistan war of 1947, 1965 and the Indo-China war of 1962 gathered for the collective.
1965: A love and war story which overcame handicaps

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