(This story was first published on 29 May 2021 and is being republished to mark three years of the Pulwama terror attack.)
Video Producer: Shohini Bose
Video Editors: Mohd Irshad Alam, Vivek Gupta
Following her martyred husband’s footsteps, Nitika Kaul, wife of Major Vibhuti Shankar Dhoundiyal who sacrificed his life in the Pulwama attack in Jammu and Kashmir in 2019, on Saturday, 29 May, passed out of the Officers Training Academy and is set to join the Indian Army.
The Ministry of Defence from the Udhampur PRO Twitter handle tweeted a video of Northern Army Commander Lt Gen YK Joshi pipping the stars on her shoulders.
Kaul will join the force as a Lieutenant.
Who Was Major Vibhuti Shankar Dhoundiyal?
Posted with the 55 Rashtriya Rifles, 34-year-old Major Dhoundiyal was martyred just a few days after the Pulwama attack in 2019, which led to an escalation of tensions between India and Pakistan. He was killed during a gun battle with Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terrorists just days after a car bomb attack in Pulwama killed 40 paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force personnel.
The youngest and the only son out of four siblings, his father Omprakash Dhoundiyal was a controller defence account officer who had passed away in 2012.
Dhoundiyal had joined the Army in 2011 and had spent most of his service years in Jammu and Kashmir.
Dhoundiyal had married Kaul, a Kashmiri Pandit in April 2018, and the two were married for 9 months before his martyrdom.
‘He Will Always Be Part of My Life’
Just six months after the incident, Kaul had quit her corporate job and filled the Short Service Commission (SSC) form. She cleared the exam and the Services Selection Board (SSB) interview as well and went at Officers Training Academy (OTA) at Chennai for her training.
Speaking to ANI, Kaul said that she would not have made it without the support of her family and that her late husband will always be part of her life.
“The journey has been marvellous, and I believe my journey has just started. The last 11 months have made me learn so many things in my life, and I would like to thank everyone who had faith in me – my mother-in-law, my mother, who have also been a part of my journey. I probably would not have done it without you guys,” she said.
Speaking of her late husband Major Dhoundiyal, Kaul said: “I believe it’s a parallel world. The day I stepped in, I imagined and I felt that I am travelling through the same journey that he has travelled through. I believe he is always going to be a part of my life. Even today, he is somewhere around, looking at me and I can feel (it); he is saying that ‘you just did it’. I love you Vibhu!”
In a message to her well-wishers, she said: “Please have faith in yourself. There is absolutely nothing that can stop you from achieving what you have aimed for. Just have faith. Jai Hind! Be safe!”
Tributes Pour In
Several took to Twitter, including Union Minister Smriti Irani and BJP MP Gautam Gambhir, to pay tributes to Kaul.