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Reportage: A Ganesh Nadar. Photographs: A Ganesh Nadar and the Sarvanan family. Design: Dominic Xavier, Rajesh Karkera


After serving with the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka for a couple of years, Lieutenant Colonel A Mariappan was finally returning home. But he could not make it to his family. En route, he died in a road accident in Bangalore.

His oldest son, Sarvanan, was only 14.


Saravanan, now a Major in the Indian Army, was also coming home. His body was being brought in a coffin draped in the Indian tricolour. The 27-year-old officer had died defending the peaks of Batalik in the Kargil war. His body had lain in the snow for a whole month, caught in a no-man's lands between Indian and Pakistani positions.

"Every time we go to recover the body, the Pakis open fire and if one of their men tries to claim the body, we open fire. That is why his body remains where it is," a senior army officer had then told rediff.com

Major Sarvanan's mother had lost her husband and now her only son.

"My son was the first to fall and the last to return," she said remembering him in her home in Tiruchi, Tamil Nadu.

Pictures of Major Sarvanan in his home; inset, his father Lieutenant Colonel Mariappan.

Also see: Kargil's first hero, The soldier who became a legend

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