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An illustrated, literary salute to our warriors at Siachen glacier
SHWETA SHARMA  26th Aug 2012

ituated at a height of more than 20,000 feet in the mighty Himalayas, Siachen glacier is the highest battlefield in the world. It is also a witness to sacrifices of many jawans from the Indian Army, most of which does the public milieu does not know of. Thanks to Rishi Kumar's comic book, Siachen: The Cold War, the public will once again be reminded of the many battles fought on the glacier, and the valour of our troops.

It all started in 2003, when Kumar had gone for the book launch of Major General (Retd.) Ian Cardozo's Param Vir Our Heroes in Battle, where he chanced upon a meeting with many war heroes. "I met the family of Second Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal, a posthumous recipient of the Param Vir Chakra for his role during the war with Bangladesh in 1971," he explains. "I've read plenty of books based on British and American war heroes of World War II. But I realised that there was nothing on the Indian heroes — we have fought five wars and we don't have a single comic to depict the achievements of our armed forces. This gap led me to conceptualise the comic. It is interesting to know where our soldiers go and what conditions they live in."Image 2nd

Priced at Rs 150, this 48-page book is done in earthy colours and clean lines, beautifully depicting the achievements and lives of the jawans in Siachen. Kumar adds that though people know about Kargil, not many are aware of the Siachen war, which was a prelude to the Kargil war. "It took around two months to first gather information from various open sources and then compile it all. Extensive research was done on arms, armaments, vehicles and aircrafts of both countries to make them look authentic. It had to look like the weapons used during the Siachen conflict," he adds.

Kumar's main source of information was the Internet, newspaper articles and some books. "Though I did not get in touch with any officers who were a part of the conflict, I read their interviews in newspapers. I got help from Major General (Retd) Cardozo, who served at the glacier in 1987, whose invaluable inputs helped me understand how things must have had happened during the conflict," he elucidates.

But why a comic book? "A comic book can cater to a wider range of audience, from a pre-teen to an old person. This medium can inform and entertain, and at the same time communicate the message effectively; its readership is generally more than a regular book. Besides, people remember pictures more clearly," he points out.

Though Kumar already has a sequel, Battlefield Siachen, in the pipeline, his journey was not without hurdles. "The main problem was publishers. They showed no interest in publishing the comic and hence I had to self-publish it under AAN Comics," he says.

The book is available in leading bookstores and also at websites like eBay and Flipkart.

 
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