Remembering Major Saravanan Mariappan – Hero of Batalik

Major Saravanan Mariappan was born on 10 August 1972 on the island of Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu to Lt. Colonel Adi Mariappan and Amirthavalli. He did his schooling at Kendriya Vidyalaya in Gaya district and later graduated from St. Joseph’s College, Tiruchirapalli in 1992. Major Saravanan was commissioned into the famous Bihar Regiment on 11 March 1995 from Chennai.

Major Saravanan
Image 1: Major Saravanan

Kargil War

The 27-year-old officer Major Saravanan and his team on May 28, 1999, were assigned the task of capturing a well-fortified enemy position at 14,229 feet (4,337 m) in the Batalik sector. The Bihar regiment were based in Assam where it was around 30 C. The Batalik region had altitudes of 7000 to 15000 feet and frigid weather of -10 C to -20 C. The high altitudes would mean fighting in areas with very little oxygen.

Batalik region
Image2: Batalik region

Batalik region terrian
Image3: Batalik region terrain

Major Saravanan Mariappan – Hero of Batalik

He and his men launched an attack in the wee hours of May 29th, 1999. Despite intensive firing from the enemy with artillery and automatic weapons, they charged into a volley of bullets.Major Saravanan fired a rocket launcher into the enemy position that killed two enemy soldiers. During the combat, he was hit by shrapnel and injured but continued fighting. His commanding officer ordered him to retreat because too many Indian soldiers had been injured. ‘Genghis Khan fall back,’ came the order. ‘Not today sir, we are very close to the objective,’ replied Major Saravanan who was code named Genghis Khan. He killed two more invaders but this time he was hit by a bullet in the head at 06:30, his body nestled in the snow.

The enemy were so entrenched on higher altitude and battle so fierce Major Saravanan lay martyred in snow until June 14 after 45 days when he was recovered. Even though Major Saravanan fell trying to capture the peaks of Batalik, the Indian army had completely wiped out the enemy from Batalik.
By July 9th, 1999. Batalik was free of intruders!

Army Rank Pay in Rupees
Captain 11,400
Major 14,850
Lt Colonel 17,100
Colonel 17,350
Brigadier 18,050
Major General 22,400
Lt General 24,500
Vice Chief of Staff 26,000
Chief of Staff 30,000

Table: Indian Army pay scale as of 2012

Major Saravanan was the first casuality in the Kargil War for the Indian Army.
The Vir Chakra was awarded to Saravanan posthumously and presented to his mother by President K. R. Narayanan. The Indian Army conferred the title “Hero of Batalik” on him.

Vir Chakra for Vir Chakra for Major Saravanan
Image4: Vir Chakra

 Major Saravanan Memorial in Tiruchi, Tamil Nadu, Indian
Image5: Major Saravanan Memorial in Tiruchi, Tamil Nadu, India

The story of Major Saravanan is one among several thousands that give up so much so you and I can leave in peace every day.

These are the real super heroes!