It took me a while to settle down, as I ended up reading the patriotic stories of Param Vir Chakra, Vikram Batra. My heart filled with grief and honor, making a tiny effort to understand – how brave is it to die for the country? But, my friends, I failed to imagine this.
This being my first patriotic article, helped in discover an unknown side of me, the ‘side’ which still breathes for the nation and is even ready to die for it. Perhaps this side of me will die out tomorrow, as I move on. But legends like Vikram Batra kept this fire burning till the last moment..
Here are some facts about his life:
A little boy with a puff in his hair and a twinkle in his eyes, he roamed alongside his identical twin. Luv, as we called Capt Vikram Batra and Kush, his identical twin. They didn’t have a television set at home and would slip their feet into their rubber slippers to sneak out of their houses to Nisha Didi’s next door so they could watch the TV serial Param Vir Chakra which aired on Sunday morning at 10 a.m.
He had jumped out of the moving school bus when the door had opened suddenly at a steep turn and a little girl had lost her balance and fallen off. He saved the girl from coming under the bus and escaped with a few cuts and bruises, smiling broadly.
Vikram was bold and fearless, and always ready to help people in need.
He received his education up to Middle Standard at the DAV Public School in Palampur and up to senior secondary stage in Central School, Palampur. After passing his 10+2, in 1992 from Central School Palampur, he got admitted in DAV College, Chandigarh in BSc where he was declared the best NCC Cadet in two zones.
Dimple and Vikram were college sweethearts. They had only attended a few months of classes together at Punjab University when Vikram left to join the Indian Miltary Academy. Soon they got in touch again, love happened and they decided to get married. Had Vikram come back from the Kargil War, that was the plan. Only he didn’t.
Dimple returned to Chandigarh and decided she would rather live with his memories than marry someone else.
She says, “He was a wonderful, fun-loving guy. He was very handsome. He loved to do things for people. I could tell him my innermost feelings and he would understand.”
It was a pitch-dark night; Lt Col Yogesh Joshi was sitting at the base of the hump from where preparatory bombardment of Pt 5140 had commenced. For an hour, he heard gunfire and saw the flash the gunpowder, but had no idea what was happening at Pt 5140.
At 4:35 AM, in the cold darkness, the radio set beeped and he heard the now-famous-words: ‘Yeh dil maange more’. It was Vikram Batra. He and his men had captured the peak and unfurled the tri-color there.
Vikram Batra was asked to leave for an urgent mission to recapture peak 4875. This was one of the most difficult peaks to capture as the Pakistani troops sat above the peak at 16,000 feet and the climb gradient was 80 degrees. The fog made matters worse for Batra and his team.
In the early morning hours of 7 July 1999, there was a lot of pressure to proceed. Lt Col Joshi spoke to Batra at 5:30 AM and asked him to reconnoiter the area with Subedar Raghunath Singh. Batra decided that even though it was daylight, he and his boys would storm the post in a direct assault.
Though injured, Vikram continued his charge, with supporting fire from the rest of the patrol and reached the mouth of the ledge, giving the army a foothold on the ledge. This was when he realized that one of his men had been shot. He was unwilling to leave his man.
‘Darte hain, sahib?‘ Batra taunted Subedar Singh.
‘Darte nahi hun, sahib,’ Singh replied.
He ordered Singh to hold the wounded soldier from the feet and he himself held him from the head.
A hall at Service Selection Center Allahabad is named Vikram Batra Block, a residential area in the Jabalpur Cantonment is called ‘Captain Vikram Batra Enclave’ and the combined cadet’s mess at the IMA is named ‘Vikram Batra Mess’.
“Our child had captured three peaks, he had taken the nation by storm and suddenly he was no more,” says Kamal Batra, rivulets of tears flowing down her cheek.
She further added, “But when God gives you a mortal blow, he gives you the strength to cope with the grief. Guru Gobind Singh sacrificed four sons for the country. Maybe there was some reason why God gave me twins — one he had marked for the country and one for me.”
The last time Vikram was at home with his family in Palampur was during Holi in 1999. He had got leave for a few days and his mother pampered him with the goodies he liked best – pakodas, home made potato chips and mango pickle.
Like the ritual he followed on each visit, he went to the Neugal Café, a Palampur eatery by the Neugal river, for a coffee and met an acquaintance who spoke about the war.
“The war has begun, who knows when you will be asked to go, you better be careful.”
He joyfully replied, “I’ll either come back after raising the Indian flag in victory or return wrapped in it.”
“Either I will come back after hoisting the tri-color (Indian flag), or I will come back wrapped in it, but I will be back for sure.”
“Yeh dil maange more! (My heart asks for more!)“
“Don’t worry about us; pray for your safety.”
Batra’s last words were: “Jai mata di!”
Source: The book “The Brave” by Rachna Bisht Rawat.
Watch this inspiring video of ‘Sher Shah’ that will leave you in tears.