'Nimbu Saab: The Barefoot Naga Kargil Hero' Review: Home they brought the warrior dead

'Nimbu Saab: The Barefoot Naga Kargil Hero' 'Nimbu Saab: The Barefoot Naga Kargil Hero'

In every war, there are known heroes, and there are many unknown ones. This is a story of someone whose tale has not been told much, who battled poverty, lack of access to educational facilities, the remoteness of his homeland, made it to the elite Indian Army as an officer by sheer dint of strength of character, grit and sheer dedication and yet, laid down his life without even as much as a second thought in the service of his nation.

Captain Neikezhakuo Kenguruse—fondly called ‘Nimbu Saab ‘ by his men as they found his Angami Naga name too difficult to pronounce and ‘Neibu’ to his family back home in the Naga hills—was later awarded the Maha Vir Chakra (MVC). The country’s second highest military decoration after the Param Vir Chakra, the MVC is awarded for acts of conspicuous gallantry in the face of the enemy.

The time was about 2.30 am. It was June 29, 1999. The temperature would have been about 10 degrees below zero. The rocky surface beneath their feet was freezing cold. Yet the 12 to 13 men of Platoon 10 of D Company of 2 Rajputana Rifles—led from the front by Captain Nimbu—took off their shoes and slung them around their necks as they set off to climb a near vertical rock of 70-80 degrees incline. On Lone Hill lay a strong Pakistani position that could shoot at anything that moved below.

The aim was to take over Lone Hill from the Pakistanis, a crucial feature in order to control the commanding heights. A surprised enemy fought back. A bullet in his stomach, the young captain kept up with the attack as he goaded his men on, till another bullet hit his right eye and plunged him down the slope of Lone Hill, some threw him about 200 feet down.

'Nimbu Saab: The Barefoot Naga Kargil Hero' written by Neha Dwivedi and Diksha Dwivedi, daughters of Kargil hero Major C.B. Dwivedi in a narrative form in the words of Captain Neibu’s younger brother Neingutoulie Kenguruse is a book that incorporates several distinctive strands of narrative.

Weaving a rich tapestry of the Naga way of life, the growing up years in a big Angami family with its own unique set of dynamics, contemporary themes like use of drugs by youngsters, the ubiquitous backdrop of the Naga insurgency movement, the book focuses on the day-to-day struggles and aspirations of a Naga family with Neibu at the pole position who was determined to give it his all for a better life to his family.

Even joining the Indian Army came with its own set of dilemma’s for Neibu: “To serve a country that didn’t feel like home to many of his fellow Nagas, in exchange for a bright future for his family, or to stay back home with his family and be okay with their current standard of living?”

In his final sacrifice, Neibu set in motion a feeling much unknown to Nagas—that they were indeed part of the Indian nation. There were people lined up all along the street to look at their fallen son whose mortal remains were carried in a convoy even as a group of young Angami men gave their war-cry: “Neikezhakup, miche tuo heluo” roughly translating to “Neikezhakup, don’t be scared on your way, you are a real man.”

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