The uncelebrated soldier of Indian Army – General Major Cardozo
Indian Army never fails to amaze us by their undying courage to being a knight at times of need. And why not? After all, we have one of the best army in the world! These soldiers, expecting nothing from us yet sacrifice everything for us. Unfortunately, no one pays heed to them unless they die in a battle or are martyred by the terrorists! Many stories of passion and love for the country are left unsung whereas many gets lost amidst the reins of time. One such story is of General Major Cardozo aka ‘Cartoos Sahib’ whose act of bravery will give you goosebumps down your spine. Nearly nothing can come near to the bravado of Major, who sever one of his own leg after putting it on a landmine. This is his story that resembles to the story of every next soldier whose sacrifices are always overlooked.
The tale of General Major Cardozo aka ‘Cartoos Sahib’
The year 1971 marks the beginning of a raging war between India and Pakistan to help accelerate the freedom of Bangladesh. While this time, General Major Cardozo was however enrolled as a professor of defense at the Defense Services Staff College in Wellington situated in Tamil Nadu. However, the fate awaits something else for him, during the battle between India and Pakistan the second in command of battalion 4/5 Gorkha Rifles died, and this was when the replacement became mandatory. The concerned officials put forth the recommendation for General Major Cardozo due to which he was ordered to leave back his enrolment immediately. He was deployed at than East Pakistan. The timely arrival of General Major Cardozo at the pavilion however proved very beneficial for the battalion. Within the course of next 13 days, India successfully liberated the Bangladesh. And during this time only the Major was granted by the name ‘Cartoos Sahib’ as the fellow soldiers were unable to pronounce his name correctly.
However this victory wasn’t as simple as it sounds. India witnessed the victory like never before as the Indian Army proved the battle its first ever heliborne operation! Not only this, a team of just 480 Indian soldiers were able to surpass or make surrender the Pakistani Army of almost 1500 soldiers which include 3 brigadiers, 107 officers, 219 junior commissioned officers and about 7000 troops! This was indeed a great hit! Just after the downfall of Dhaka, the Indian Army was arranging the ‘prisoners of war’, Major Cardozo was gone to help the BSF commander in charge at that time to count the POW when the tragedy took place. Major met with an accident that changed his life forever, Cardozo stepped over a landmine, and lost one of his leg in the blast that followed. A major portion of his leg was damaged and the rest that had remained attached to the body, could not be sever surgically because of the substantial war detritus! Apart from no medical anaesthesia or any surgical equipment was present at the moment which turned the situation even more critical. At such a moment not much could have done so in the heat of the situation, Major Cardozo asked the doctor on duty to cut of his leg! Due to the shortage of medical equipment’s, the doctor refused to do so and this was exactly when the Major took up the task on himself. He ordered one of his fellow soldier near him to cut his leg with his Khukri! Surprisingly just after that he also ordered him to go and bury it somewhere.
Who said soldiers don’t have hearts? A soldier whether be of India or Pakistan in the end is just a soldier who is serving his country in the name of love. Maybe that’s the reason the person who finally operated the Major was indeed Major Mohammad Basheer, a captured Pakistani surgeon. This incident doesn’t marked the end of Major’s career instead the man took it as an opportunity to become more resilient and capable at the same time. He bravely fought for his position and luckily surpassed even the most capable officers during the fitness examination which wasn’t a cakewalk for any one legged soldier. Major Cardozo created history when he became the first ever war disabled officer in India to command not just a battalion but even a brigade! He then went on achieving more and more heights which include leading a battalion on through the sturdy snowy mountains peaks hardly affecting him. Major Cardozo later became the Vice chief of army commanders. The war veteran is decorated with Ati Vishisht Seva Medal (AVSM) and the Sena Medal (SM) as well.
The eccentric yet a bravoes decision of Major to amputate his leg can never be well apprehended by people like us who lives inside our cozy house with warm heaters and forget about the chilling camps such soldiers’ lives to protect what is not just only theirs but also yours.