Nation's third highest wartime gallantry award VIR CHAKRA was awarded to Lt. Hanif-u-din on 15th August 1999.
Mission: Attacked by intruders and bombarded by artillery, he and his unit, equipped only with small arms, fought to the end.
Ek pal mein hai sach saari zindagi ka; Is pal mein ji lo yaaron, yahan kal hai kisne dekha (The truth of our lives is encapsulated in one moment; Live this moment, who knows what tomorrow holds).
It is difficult to miss the irony, in these lyrics of a song from an album cut by a remarkable singer-soldier, Captain Haneef Uddin. Haneef lived these lyrics -- written by his younger brother Sameer -- and even sang them to his troops. His impromptu "Jazz Band" spread his zest for life and music in the mountains, welcome relief for troops cut off from civilisation and television, fighting tedium and tension. "Whether up in the hills or down here with us, his music system remained his constant companion," says elder brother Nafees, 26, a physics teacher. Fun, cheer, song and courage. Those values, his family and colleagues say, describe the young captain who died fighting on a craggy mountainside in Turtuk, Kargil, on the same day that he was commissioned into the army two years ago. The strapping young man -- he was crowned Mr Shivaji in Delhi's Shivaji College -- was multifaceted, training in computers before joining the Indian Military Academy in 1996. He was commissioned into the army on June 7, 1997.
Living with Memories: Mother Hema Aziz and elder brother Nafees recall how Haneef could bring any gathering to life with his music.
Cutting across the snowy peaks to push for the enemy-held heights, Haneef soldiered on despite artillery bombardment. Outgunned and outnumbered, he and his unit fought to the end. His body has not yet been recovered from the perilous ridges of Turtuk, which is still in enemy hands.
Haneef's father died when he was only seven years old. His mother, Hema Aziz, a classical singer, displays the stoicism of grieving families nationwide: "As a soldier Haneef served his country with pride and dedication. There cannot be a greater statement on his valour than his death which came fighting the enemy."
The memories flood into Hema Aziz's east Delhi apartment: of the times when Haneef would come humming back after a busy day at Kerala School, his alma mater; of the times when the brothers would grapple wildly like pit wrestlers and then calm down with music; of his last call home saying he would be back for his birthday in September after collaring the enemy. Memories -- they are all that remain.
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