SHAKTIMAN THE HORSE
By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM
A horse is what a cavalry soldier loves to tend to. It is not only a plain soldier but generals too who love to have the best war horse that they can lay their hands on. Shakespeare made King Lear lament for the loss of his charger. “My horse, my horse, my kingdom for my horse”, he is supposed to have said aloud. It was a cavalry charge at the gallop that an infantry battalion dreaded most. Right up to the closing years of the World War I, fine war horses were the prized possessions of the winning side of a military engagement. Indeed appearance of Tanks at the closing scene of the First Great War took away the Romance from a pitched battle of rival cavalries where lances, swords, sabers played an important role in deciding the outcome of a battle but the winning factor was indeed the dear old Mount of a mounted man.
Many real lovers of horses preferred to say good bye to the new army of Tanks rather than be deprived of the pleasure of mounting their loved chargers for a hunt in the deep jungles or participating in a cavalry charge that had romance in it and gave many an opportunity to display raw courage, chivalry and win the hand of the ladylove. An army sans a horse was indeed no place to work for, so thought the knight in shining armour out to slay the dragon and win the hand of a princess to live happily ever after.
CHETAK – the loyal war horse of Maharana Pratap, had served his master so loyally even to the point of breathing its last after sustaining deep cuts and wounds in the heroic battle of Haldighati that it is remembered in pages of history and literature even five centuries after attaining Martyrdom. Chetak’s Samadhi is built at the spot where it fell for the final journey to the other world and is visited by hundreds of tourists who even now pay a teary tribute besides offering flowers to the Samadhi to commemorate loyalty and gallantry of Maharana Pratap’s war horse.
Shaktiman , the late Police horse of the Uttarakhand mounted police, won name and fame in the political annals of the tiny but brave State. It so happened that the opposition political party called the Bhartiya Janata Party was holding a demonstration in downtown Dehra Dun, capital of the State presently ruled by the rival Congress party. In the melee and the resultant chaos generated by the close quarter battle fought by the opposing political parties, a stalwart of the opposition allegedly hit the police horse, Shaktiman, in the hind legs. The blow was so severe that the horse went lame and fell down.
The veterinary doctors who examined the animal thought that amputation of the injured legs and possibly a deep surgery were the only way out to save the life of the horse after it loses its limb. Shaktiman became the focus of attention of the Media both print and electronic, and every step taken in treatment was reported in detail. The local press got enough material to fill reams of paper, a godsend opportunity for almost briefless reporters.
The rival political parties too got some food for thought and fodder for their cannon, read pen and printers. Both the Chief Minister and Leader of the Opposition took keen interest in the goings on. It was hotly debated that the wrongdoers would be punished by the electorate. The Vets read and reread books of surgery on horses legs and surmised that Shaktiman the horse had to be administered general anesthesia for a major operation of that nature. Where to get it from but the United States of America. Urgent messages called SOS were sent by wire and wireless to buy it irrespective of high cost. After all, life of a horse caught in the quagmire of political unethical wrestling was involved The Chief Minister thought that his throne was at stake since the bugle for the next electoral Mahabharat was being trumpeted The Opposition played its own game of flaring the fire by feeding the best hay to Shaktiman the horse and keep it alive.
America sent the best available medicines for the major surgery. Lo behold! The Vets here gave an overdose of anesthesia Shaktiman the horse was no more
The ruling party’s plan was to raise a statue of Shaktiman at an important junction in the capital They went through the exercise Came in a soothsayer! He thought that it might go against the electoral stars of the Chief Minister; Shaktiman the horse lost its place of honour: the political battle is raging; the blame game is going on: People of the State are the real losers: