I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. — 2 Timothy 4:7
On this Republic Day, ICM honours all great soldiers who laid their lives for the country and remembers the supreme sacrifice rendered on August, 2002 by Major Sylvester Ratnam, a Catholic youngster from Bangalore.
‘Silly’ to his friends, `Rajesh’ to his mother and `defender’ to the nation, Major. Sylvester Rajesh Ratnam laid down his life along Jammu and Kashmir border in 2002, fighting the enemy.
August 2 marks the 15th death anniversary of Major Sylvester Ratnam. Twenty-nine-year-old Sylvester, a strapping soldier of the 21 Jat Regiment, was posted at Kiran Sector of Kupwara area in Jammu and Kashmir.
Major Ratnam was an active member of Bangalore’ Resurrection Parish Youth Group and a dear friend to all.
Maj Sylvester’s father served as a police officer and his grandfather had served with Indian Air Force. A student of Bangalore’s St Joseph’s Boys High School and a graduate of Christ College, Maj Sylvester always had a dream to serve in the armed forces and he pursued his dream after his graduation and a brief stint with Jet Airways. Finally his wish came true when he was selected to join the Officers’ Training Academy in Chennai and passed out on 05 Sep 1998. He was commissioned as Lieutenant into 21 Jat of the famed Jat Regiment known for its gallantry and various battle honours.
He was an intrepid & highly motivated officer, who always led his men with tremendous dedication & zeal. He soon gained expertise in battle craft skills and evolved into a committed soldier and a fine officer. His unit 21 Jat moved to J & K in Oct 2001 and subsequently promoted to the rank of Major.
Operation Parakram : 02 Aug 2002
On 2nd August 2002, Maj Sylvester’s unit was engaged in an encounter with militants in the Keran Sector in Jammu and Kashmir. Maj Sylvester swung into the action and took measures to protect other soldiers from the militants. He managed to push some of the soldiers into a bunker before falling victim to a shell from the enemy firing. Maj Sylvester was martyred but showed exemplary courage and leadership in saving the lives of his fellow soldiers.
Major Sylvester Rajesh Ratnam is survived by his mother Hemala Ratnam and sister Dr Joseline Ratnam.
`I’ll be happy to die for my country. One of these days you’ll find my photo in the papers”, he told his mother Mrs. Hema Ratnam. Earlier, when they went to Delhi, he showed her the soldier’s memorial and said his name would be etched on it one day.
Mrs. Ratnam is an active member at Resurrection Church Vincent De Paul Society.
Rest in Peace, Major