'The Tiger of the Assam Sector' roars no more; war hero Jamasji passes away

Updated: Jun 27, 2020, 15:05 IST | Hemal Ashar | Mumbai

War hero Jamasji passes away, leaving behind a legacy of valour and wisdom we must heed in these times

Squadron Leader Parvez Rustom Jamasji
Squadron Leader Parvez Rustom Jamasji

There are some people who you think may somehow defy mortality; who will never go gentle into that good night.

Indian war hero Squadron Leader (retd) Parvez Rustom Jamasji, 77, who flew sorties into East Pakistan during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War and sustained a bullet wound in his leg, was one of them. Jamasji passed away on Friday, but he leaves behind stories of valour that all those silver trophies and medals of bravery, kept safe inside the wooden showcase of his Dadar Parsi Colony home, hold close to their heart.

Vir Chakra

A helicopter pilot, Jamasji's courage was acknowledged with the Vir Chakra in 1972. The Maharashtra government had also feted him with the Gaurav Puraskar. The pilot, who sat smiling beatifically when this reporter met him for an interview last year, had a soldier's gait even though he walked with the help of a stick. In fact, he wore his leg injury with the same pride he pinned on the numerous gallantry medals on his shirt. He was injured in a mission in the 1971 Indo-Pak war.

At war

Last year, India and Pakistan stood on the edge of a precipice when we had just launched 'surgical strikes' inside the territory of our neighbouring nation and Indian pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman had been captured in Pakistan. Speaking on the situation then, Jamasji had told mid-day, "Every country has Prisoners of War." He insisted that we were and had been at war for years, in reference to the Kashmir conflict.

An Air Force officer hands over a tricolour to his wife as Squadron Leader (retd) Parvez Rustom Jamasji is cremated with full military honours, at Doongerwadi on FridayFull military honours for Squadron Leader  (retd)‰ Parvez Jamasji as his wife is handed over the tricolour at Doongerwadi on Friday

"When a nation loses five of its soldiers on an average and is left with five widows every day, then plain and simple, the nation is at war," he had explained. With complete belief, Jamasji had added, "India needs to strike with full force now, otherwise, we go back to a situation where our men continue to die every day, in some so-called skirmish or fire fight and we continue to have widows. These widows will one day start questioning, 'if we are not at war, why did my husband die'?"

Special frontier

Jamasji had transported hundreds of soldiers of the Special Frontier Forces into the enemy territory in a Mi-4 Russian helicopter when he was stationed at Dimagiri, on the border of Mizoram and then in East Pakistan. He had earned the label, 'The Tiger of the Assam sector', for his feats. When asked what went through his mind decades ago, on his daredevil missions, he laughed and said, "Thoughts? What thoughts? There is no time to think!"

He had then posed against his trophy cupboard, wearing his medals that were adjusted to perfection by his wife and son, for photographs for this newspaper. While he didn't give profound philosophical quotes, the simplicity with which he wore his accolades left one in awe. The air was awash with respect and reverence, and we felt fortunate to have met him, as we left his home in the leafy environs of the city's upscale residential precinct.

Rest In Peace, 'Tiger of the Assam Sector', the soil of India is still wet with the blood you and so many of your ilk have shed.

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