The Kargil war, fought 17 years ago, is still fresh in memories of India’s first women combat aviators Gunjan Saxena and Srividya Rajan.
In 1999, Flt Lt Gunjan Saxena and Flt Lt Srividya Rajan were tasked with casualty evacuations, supply drops and spotting Pakistani positions in the Kargil region.
Despite Pakistani soldiers firing bullets and missiles at virtually any Indian helicopter or aircraft, these women pilots exhibited bravery and resilience by flying dozens of helicopter sorties to evacuate soldiers from the war-stricken area and saved the lives of several soldiers.
Despite the fact that their Cheetah helicopter was defenceless, these two young women gone into the war zone in North Kashmir. At that time, there were very less women pilots in the Indian Air Force.
Gunjan Saxena hails from a family where many are serving the Armed forces. As her father and brother were in the army so she joined the armed forces after completing her graduation from Delhi University’s Hansraj College.
During the war, the two pilots often flew very close to Pakistani positions but at a comfortable height.
At one moment, she confronted danger when a Pakistani soldier fired at her aircraft through a rocket or a shoulder fired missile. Luckily, the rocket missed her chopper. But she carried with her operational sorties.
For her courage, Gunjan was awarded the Shaurya Chakra, a gallantry award presented for valour, courageous action or self-sacrifice while not engaged in direct enemy combat. She was also the first woman to receive such an honour from the army.
The bravery shown by these women is a glorious example of strong leadership, a determination to defeat the enemy, self-sacrifice, and the risking of one’s life for others.