India has always given birth to many brave sons and daughters who sacrificed their lives for their mother land. Be it Rana Pratap, Shivaji Maharaj or Rani Laxmi Bai, the list is never ending. Even after Independence many brave sons and daughters gave their lives for us. “The Indian Army has been filled with spine-chilling tales of valor, indomitable spirit in the face of adversity, and unparalleled devotion towards our motherland. However, no military person in Independent India’s has ever captured the nation’s veneration as Captain Vikram Batra did. From being an ordinary boy hailing from a small village in the Palampur district of Himachal Pradesh, to becoming one of India’s most celebrated war heroes in a life that spanned merely twenty-five years, is not a mean feat”, quoted a friend of Vikram Batra.
Vikram Batra was born on 9 September 1974, in Palampur, Himachal Pradesh. He was the third child of Girdhari Lal Batra, a school principal, and Kamal Batra, a school teacher. He was the elder of twin sons, and was born fourteen minutes before his brother, Vishal. The twins were nicknamed Luv (Vikram) and Kush (Vishal) after the twin sons of Lord Rama and Sita, by their mother as she was a faithful devotee of Rama. He had two sisters Seema and Nutan. Besides being brilliant at studies, he was a keen sportsman and represented his school at the national level during the Youth Parliamentary competitions in New Delhi. After completing his bachelor's degree in 1995, he enrolled in Punjab University, Chandigarh, where he took admission in MA English, so that he could prepare for the “Combined Defense Services” (CDS) Examination. He attended evening classes at the University and worked part-time in the morning as a branch manager of a travelling agency in Chandigarh.
In 1996, he passed the CDS examination and subsequently received a call for an interview at the Services Selection Board (SSB)in Prayag Raj and was selected. He was among the top 35 candidates in the Order of Merit. After completing his MA, he left the University to join the Indian Military Academy. Captain Vikram Batra joined the Jessore Company of Manekshaw Battalion and was commissioned into the 13 JAK Rifles, well known for its undaunted soldiers and countless battle exploits.
He was posted to Sopore in the Baramulla district of Jammu and Kashmir after being commissioned to the Indian army. Vikram Batra’s unit had completed its field tenure and was preparing to move to its peace location in April 1999. However, fate had planned something else — large scale intrusions by the Pakistani forces were detected in Kargil by early May 1999. In June 1999, as part of Operation Vijay, Vikram Batra’s unit 13 JAK Rifles got deployed in the Drass area of Kargil under the operational command of 56 Infantry Brigade. It was only after the capture of the Tololing Top in Drass by 2 Rajasthan Rifle battalion that 13 JAK Rifles were given the responsibility of capturing a very strategic Point 5140.
The Point 5140 peak was one of the most treacherous and crucial peaks and was heavily defended by the enemy forces. Vikram Batra led Delta Company while Sanjeev Singh Jamwal led the Bravo Company and were allocated the arduous task of capturing Point 5140 in a daring night attack. On reaching a height of 17,000 feet, Vikram Batra and his men had planned to approach the hill from the rear. However, as they neared the top, Pakistani defenders restrained them from the cliff by firing with machine guns. Vikram Batra and his men, without caring for their lives, climbed up and threw two grenades at the machine gun posts. He single-handedly killed three soldiers in a close combat and despite being deeply wounded, he regrouped his men and continued the mission.
Vikram Batra sent his victory signal on June 29, 1999 via a radio message, in which he said, “Chanakya …it’s Shershah reporting!! We’ve captured the post! Yeh Dil Maange More”. His victory signal, later on became the catch-line for the Kargil War, inspiring not only just the unit, but also each and every citizen — the unflinching spirit of supreme service for the motherland. The landmark victory of Point 5140 paved the way for a string of other victories at Point 5100, Point 4700, Junction Peak and ‘Three Pimples’.
On 6 July 1999, Vikram Batra began the attack to re-capture Point 4875. With extraordinary courage and daredevilry, Captain Batra launched a frontal attack against the enemy forces shortly after re-capturing Point 4875. Unfortunately, during the exchange of fire, he got injured, but continued his efforts to reach the mouth of the ledge. However, just as he reached there, he noticed one of his young soldiers lying in a pool of blood few feet away. During his attempt to move the injured soldier to safety, he was hit by a sniper fire in the chest. His last words were “Durga mata ki jai”. Moved by his unparalleled courage and supreme sacrifice, his men attacked and captured Point 4875. Today the point is called as the ‘Batra Top’ as a tribute to the supreme sacrifice of Captain Vikram Batra at the young age of 25.
Captain Vikram Batra was given the nation’s highest gallantry award, Param Vir Chakra posthumously for his supreme sacrifice that will forever remain engraved in the annals of Indian history.
To commemorate his bravery there was movie called Shershah (named after his code name), released this year starring Siddharth Malhotra and Kiara Advani. It was one of my all-time favorite movies. The actor Siddharth Malhotra said “ they say that those who touch our lives, stay in our hearts forever. And Captain Vikram Malhotra you have touched our lives immensely with your valor, wisdom, charm and love for the nation. You will stay in our hearts forever… In your loving memory, Jai Hind, flag of India”.
Vikram had earlier told his family “either I will come back hoisting the tricolor or come back wrapped in it, but I will come for sure”! Such a brave words from a great son of India. Shershah you will be remembered for ever.