Memories, the Only Resort for Shaheed Capt Vikram Batra’s Mother
Kamal Kanta Batra about her son and Kargil war hero Captain Vikram Batra.
"He is never away from my thoughts... I see him every day in his twin brother”
The ‘Sher Shah’ of Kargil, whose words Yeh dil maange more filled every fellow citizen with pride, had shown sparks of what he was capable of even when he was a school student.
September 9 marks Captain Vikram Batra’s birth anniversary. This brave heart made the supreme sacrifice for the nation when he was just 24 years old and is never far from the thoughts of his mother Kamal Kanta Batra, who was also his first teacher in the small Himachali town of Palampur, where he grew up.
She sees his reflection in his identical twin brother Vishal and says “only a small mole on his nose’’ helped people recognise Vikram.
Courageous Young Lad
An early indication of the helpful, selfless and sacrificing nature of Vikram, his mother recalls, was when he saved the life of a schoolmate who had fallen off a running school bus.
“Vikram and his brother were on the school bus when they noticed that a girl student of Class VII had fallen out of the bus as the door was not properly closed. Vikram immediately raised an alarm and together with his brother, both of whom were then in the ninth standard, asked the driver to take her to the Civil Hospital. Once there, they insisted that the driver take all other students back to school while the two of them attended to her’’.
“After I learnt that both my sons were in the hospital, I rushed there and was relieved to see that they were fine and so was their schoolmate. I felt extremely proud that day when the doctor said that Vikram had saved the life of the child and that he had great potential,’’ said his mother as her eyes swelled with tears.
Kargil War Hero
Vikram went on to join the DAV College at Chandigarh and was subsequently commissioned into the army after his training at the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun.
His trial by fire came in June 1999 when his unit was tasked to recapture the strategic Point 5140 from Pakistani intruders who had surreptitiously taken over the peak vacated during the previous winters by Indian soldiers. He led his unit to the peak, located at a height of 17,000 feet and in a display of immense bravery, recaptured the peak from the enemy.
He single-handedly killed three enemy soldiers in close combat and was himself injured. But he insisted on regrouping his men leading to the capture of Point 5140 on June 20, 1999. The capture of Point 5140 finally led to the fall of Tiger Hill.
Although this act of bravery alone would have been something to remember, he did not rest on his laurels and participated in several other missions. He volunteered to lead his unit to capture Point 4875, located at about 16,000 feet above sea level with a steep gradient of 80 degrees. It was certainly a daunting task but Capt Batra insisted that he would like to lead the attack. The words yeh dil maange more, though the catch-line of a cola brand, were immortalised by him after his recapture of Point 5140.
Keeping the Memories Alive
On July 7, during a counter attack by the enemy while they were scaling the peak, he noticed that one of his jawans had got injured in firing and had to be rescued. When one of his JCOs volunteered to carry the injured soldier back, Vikram pushed him aside saying he had a family and children back home and that he would himself rescue the injured. It was during his mission that he laid down his life for the nation and was awarded the highest gallantry award posthumously, the Param Veer Chakra.
For him rescuing an injured mattered more than his own life – whether it was his younger schoolmate or an injured soldier on the battlefield.
“He also had a good sense of humour and a jolly dispensation’’, says his mother who is immensely proud whenever she is greeted as the mother of brave heart Vikram. She says she has received a lot of love and affection from countrymen but thinks that the government could do a little more.
She also feels that more institutions and roads should be named after war heroes who make the supreme sacrifice for the nation. It is certainly the least that the nation can do for its heroes.
(The writer is a Chandigarh-based senior journalist. This article was first published on 9 September 2015. It has been reposted from The Quint’s archives to mark Capt Vikram Batra’s birth anniversary.)
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