Twenty-seven months after she lost her husband in an anti-insurgency operation in south Kashmir's Pulwama, 29-year-old Nitika Kaul on Saturday donned the army uniform after completing a one-year rigorous training in Tamil Nadu.
Army's northern commander Lt Gen Y K Joshi pipped the stars on her shoulders at a simple ceremony held at the Officers Training Academy (OTA) Chennai and wished her best of luck for future endeavours.
Lieutenant Kaul, originally a resident of Kashmir, was married to Major Vibhuti Shankar Dhoundiyal for just nine months when the news of him making the supreme sacrifice for the nation during a gunfight with Jaish-e-Mohammad militants turned her world upside down.
The Major was among five security forces personnel killed in the February 18, 2019 encounter in which three JeM terrorists, including two top commanders believed to be behind the deadly Pulwama suicide attack on a CRPF convoy, were gunned down.
Major Dhoundiyal was awarded Shaurya Chakra (posthumously) for his sacrifice for the nation.
Motivated by the her husband, Kaul cleared the Short Service Commission (SSC) exam and interview last year and officially joined the Indian Army as an officer at the ceremony presided over the Lt Gen Joshi, the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Udhampur-based northern command.The PRO Udhampur, Ministry of Defence shared the brief video of the function on its official Twitter handle, drawing spontaneous praises for Kaul and the Army. “#MajVibhutiShankarDhoundiyal, made the Supreme Sacrifice at #Pulwama in 2019, was awarded SC (P). Today his wife @Nitikakaul dons #IndianArmy uniform; paying him a befitting tribute. A proud moment for her as Lt Gen Y K Joshi, #ArmyCdrNC himself pips the Stars on her shoulders!,” the PRO Udhampur wrote on twitter.
#MajVibhutiShankarDhoundiyal, made the Supreme Sacrifice at #Pulwama in 2019, was awarded SC (P). Today his wife @Nitikakaul dons #IndianArmy uniform; paying him a befitting tribute. A proud moment for her as Lt Gen Y K Joshi, #ArmyCdrNC himself pips the Stars on her shoulders! pic.twitter.com/ovoRDyybTs
— PRO Udhampur, Ministry of Defence (@proudhampur) May 29, 2021
Lt Kaul, who presented a brave face during the last rites of her husband at his home town Dehradun, had left her job with a multinational company in Delhi to join the Army in memory of her husband.
A video of the funeral, which had gone viral on social media, showed Kaul bidding a tearful adieu to her husband, giving him a flying kiss and saluting his mortal remains.
Director General Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) Lt Gen K J S Dhillon in a tweet congratulated Kaul on joining the Army.
“Congratulations @Nitikakaul. Remember Maj Vibhuti S Dhoundiyal making the supreme sacrifice for the Nation (using emoji thank you) More power to you Lt Nitika (emoji thumbs up) Jai Hind,” the former corps commander of Srinagar-based 15 Corps said.
Meanwhile, netizens too lauded Kaul as well as the Army.
“You know why this is important because the Army never leaves its families alone even if the soldier is not there. For him to be there and support a veer nari (brave woman) who was married to a brother officer & now adorns the uniform herself, speaks volume about the Army Values & Code of conduct,” Swapnil Pandey, who was among the thousands who viewed the tweet, said.Several others also praised Kaul and one of them wrote “what a befitting tribute to the late husband. Truly inspirational story.”