1st November 2012
Mirawi was a small town around 70 km south-west of Bamer and 40 Km from border. Until 2009 it was just an ordinary small town when Indian Army decided to base one regiment of it's latest T-90 Bhishma tanks there. For this purpose army acquired 1100 acres of land and started construction of whole tank related infrastructure there.
With efficiency typical to armed forces, the base was up and fully functional by late March 2010. The base now boasted of one of the largest workshops for tank repair and maintenance in Western command. A part of acquired land served as training ground for the tank crews .Although not as big as Pokhran, it was an ideal place to train the tank crews on desert warfare.
It was not officially stated, that tank regiment formed one of the most vital parts of much discussed Indian Cold Start doctrine. As such no effort was spared in order to keep the base as well supplied as possible. Existing highway was widened to 4 lanes and strengthened and an extra railway line was laid down apart from the existing one .
It's effect on town was largely positive. Within 2 years the town's civilian population had jumped from less than 50000 to 58000 thousand, most of it due to people from surrounding areas moving in to takeadvantage of the money being pumped in to local economy by increased army presence. A lot of these new migrants were civilian contractors, suppliers and labourers who set up their shops there.
Tushar Aggarwal was one of such contractors who had shifted his business from Jaipur to Mirawi. He had realised the significance of army raising a brand new tank base and had opened an office in Mirawi in December 2009 itself, much before other people had the sense to do so. His business flourished due to his early bird advantage and soon his earnings from his new office eclipsed what he had been earning in Jaipur. Assigning one of his employees to take care of his Jaipur office, he moved in to Mirawi along with his family which consisted of his wife of 11 years, Sushmita and their 8 years old son Krishna. They rented a small house with a big yard about a Km from the army base.
His business was growing steadily and family had taken well to the new town. Specially Krishna who had never seen military life from so close. He had been granted admission in the local Army School and had made a lot of new friends. Their class had been taken on tours of the new base and given a ride on one of brand new tanks. Ever since his visit he had been obsessed with tanks and had been begging his father to get him one too. His mother managed to placate him by buying him a toy tank much smaller in size and the one which fired up a small light in it's gun instead of a high explosive shell.
Although not quite as good, he had satisfied himself wih his 'tank' and was playing with it in their yard with some kids from their neighbourhood. His tank had a good aim and had 'destoyed' a car and aLego brick castle of his two playmates. Slightly miffed, both had packed up their own toys and left for the night. He played alone for a while after they left until it started getting too dark. He too picked up his tank and proceeded to go back inside the house when he heard the sound of an army convoy passing on the road. He rushed back to the main gate and peeked outside at the procession of T-90s being transported on their carrier vehicles. He opened the gate and stepped outside, watching excitedly as the massive trucks rolled by one by one in front of his eyes. He waved his hand with much enthusiasm and some of the soldiers smiled and waved back. He kept watching as the last truck drove away from his sight. Smiling contently he put his tank on the ground and started to steer it towards the door of his house.
His attention was diverted by sudden wailing of the air raid siren. He stood up to attention slightly puzzled listening to the oddly discomforting sound. He had heard this sound only once before in the school. The teacher had told them to at once ask the nearest grown up for help and take shelter on hearing this sound. But what could actually go wrong. He was perfectly safe in his own house. His chain of thoughts was interrupted by the band of screen door of their house as his mother rushed out looking for him. Seeing him standing right outside, the troubled expression on her face slightly receded. Standing at the door step, she asked him to come inside the house at once.
Krishna need not to be told twice. He picked up his toy tank and started running towards his mother. All of a sudden, the dusky evening was penetrated by a bright flash of intense light as if another sun had risen up in the sky. He put up his hand to shield his eyes and tried to squint through the gap when he felt an earthquake shaking everything around him. He then felt as if a wall of fire had hit him and he fell down screaming with pain and pure terror. He cried for his mother who unfortunately for both, was in a similar situation and could do nothing to help. Moments later, their burning bodies were crushed under the rubble of their two storied brick house as it collapsed when a tremendous shock wave hit it.
Thursday, February 10, 2011