Jammu, May 29 (PTI) Over two years ago she lost her husband in an anti-insurgency operation in South Kashmir's Pulwama and on Saturday she became known as Lieutenant Nitika Kaul as she proudly donned the army uniform in his memory.
Twenty-seven months after her husband's death, Kaul passed out of the Officer's Training Academy, Chennai on Saturday after completing a one-year rigorous training. Lt Gen Y K Joshi, chief of the Indian Army's Northern Command, pipped the stars on her uniform.
Lieutenant Kaul, originally a resident of Kashmir, was married to Major Vibhuti Shankar Dhoundiyal for just nine months when the news of him making the supreme sacrifice for the nation turned her world upside down.
Kaul, who presented a brave face during the last rites of her husband at his home town Dehradun, then left her job with a multinational company in Delhi to join the Army in his memory.
Some videos of the funeral available on social media show an emotional Kaul whisper to her husband 'Love you, Vibhu'.
She said that the last 11 months had made her learn so many things for which she would like to thank everyone who kept faith.
'During my training, I could always feel him (Vibhu) around,' she said.
Major Dhoundiyal was among five security forces personnel killed in the February 18, 2019 encounter in which three Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists, including two top commanders believed to be behind the deadly Pulwama suicide attack on a CRPF convoy, were gunned down. He was awarded the Shaurya Chakra (posthumously) for his sacrifice for the nation.
Motivated by her husband, Kaul cleared the Short Service Commission (SSC) exam and interview last year and officially joined the Indian Army as an officer at the ceremony presided over by Lt Gen Joshi, the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Udhampur-based northern command. The PRO Udhampur, Ministry of Defence shared the brief video of the function on its official Twitter handle, drawing praise for Kaul and the Army.
'#MajVibhutiShankarDhoundiyal, made the Supreme Sacrifice at #Pulwama in 2019, was awarded SC (P). Today his wife @Nitikakaul dons #IndianArmy uniform; paying him a befitting tribute. A proud moment for her as Lt Gen Y K Joshi, #ArmyCdrNC himself pips the stars on her shoulders!' the PRO Udhampur wrote on Twitter.
'I am very proud of you,' Lt Gen Joshi told Lt Kaul at the ceremony.
A video of the funeral, which had gone viral on social media, showed Kaul bidding a tearful adieu to her husband, giving him a flying kiss and saluting his mortal remains.
Director General Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) Lt Gen K J S Dhillon in a tweet congratulated Kaul on joining the Army.
'Congratulations @Nitikakaul. Remember Maj Vibhuti S Dhoundiyal making the supreme sacrifice for the Nation. More power to you Lt Nitika. Jai Hind,' the former corps commander of Srinagar-based 15 Corps said.
Union Minister Smirti Irani said complimented Kaul and tweeted 'Lt.@NitikaKaul, you're an embodiment of dedication, determination and devotion of India's Nari Shakti. Major Vibhuti Dhoundiyal would be smiling today with joy and pride seeing stars on your shoulder. My best wishes to you in all your endeavours.' PTI TAS SKL AAR AAR