Belonging to a family of soldiers instills in you a different kind of determination to serve the nation. There are people in the armed forces of India, who have seen the worst and still decided to join the defence forces.

Captain Yashika Hatwal Tyagi’s father was martyred when she was just 7. In order to honour his legacy, the little kid decided to become an army officer and started preparing from the school itself.

I pursued my ambition! From joining the NCC & being part of Republic Day camps, I did it all! 

After the landmark decision of women being allowed to serve in the Indian Army was made in 1993, Capt Yashika appeared for SSB exams and cleared it. Her mother always supported her ambitions and when she passed out from the academy, she commanded her contingent in the passing out parade.

Before joining the service, she got married. Now a mother and wife, Capt Yashika’s responsibility only increased. At times, she even felt guilty of having to leave her child behind.

In 1997, I was posted in Leh; I’d brought Kanhav with me. I’d wake him up early to spend extra time with him–I’d feed, bathe & play with him. And then, I’d report for duty. But as winter approached, I had to send Kanhav to stay with my in-laws. I’d miss him!

When the Kargil war was approaching, she got pregnant again. But this time too, she decided to take her both her children with her to the war. But the fear was always there.

What if my family didn’t return from war?’, ‘What if I never get to see my unborn child?’

In the Kargil war, her duty was to provide ammunition to all soldiers. Being in the armed forces, its every officer’s dream to fight in the battlefield. Capt Yashika also wanted to do the same but women weren’t allowed.

Talking to Humans of Bombay, she recalled an incident when she met Capt Vikram Batra (on whose life is film Shershaah based). She told him how she feels envious of not being able to fight. To this Capt Vikram Batra replied:

Without you, I wouldn’t be equipped to fight. Being 5 months pregnant & serving inspires me!

At that time, her husband was serving in Drass. While she was doing her duty in the battlefield, she was always concerned about the well-being of her husband. 

Taking notice of me carrying my child in one hand & a rifle in the other, my jawans would motivate me–‘Madam, aap kisi se kam nahin!’ But despite being strong, I’d break down when I’d attend our jawan’s funerals; I’d wonder if the next day I’d be standing in my husband’s.

Despite everything, she remained focused and we won the Kargil war. Capt Yashika got to meet her husband, later she gave birth to another boy and was awarded with Kargil Star, OP Vijay Medal & became the 1st Lady officer to receive a battle report.

Now was the time to put her family first, and she withdrew from the army. her husband is still serving and they are a happy family. Her kids tell the story of her bravery to their friends and she feels proud but what makes her ever prouder is being able to inspire several other women to join the armed forces.

But I’m grateful knowing I’ve won a bigger battle–to have inspired women to believe that they can be just as capable as men to serve. I believe my service was worth it when women tell me, ‘Captain, your story has motivated me to join the Indian Army!

You can read the two posts here.