Captain Batra, The ‘Sher Shah’ Pak Army Feared During Kargil War

Now retired Captain Naveen Nagappa remembers Late Captain Vikram Batra’s final moments during the Kargil War.

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(To commemorate the martyrdom of our soldiers in Kargil, The Quint is republishing this piece from its archives, originally published on 9 September 2016. Vikram Batra was one of the Indian soldiers who lost his life on 7 July.)

Eighteen years ago, a Captain in the Indian Army laid down his life during the Kargil War. A symbol of bravery, he made the ultimate sacrifice for the nation.

But late Captain Vikram Batra was no ordinary man. The Pakistani Army feared him – so much so that they called him “Sher Shah”.

Captain Batra was inducted as a lieutenant in the 13 JAK Rifles on 6 December 1997. Two years hence, he was promoted to the rank of Captain during the Kargil conflict between India and Pakistan.

(Photo: Lijumol Joseph/<b>The Quint</b>)
(Photo: Lijumol Joseph/The Quint)

One of the proudest sons of the soil, Captain Batra earned immortality on 7 July 1999 at the snow-clad peak of Point 4875 in Kargil, valiantly giving up his life to defend the country and his fellow soldiers.

In 1999, Captain Batra was awarded the Param Vir Chakra posthumously as a sign of respect for his service to the nation.

On the eve of his birth anniversary, The Quint remembers the incredibly brave Captain through the words of now retired Captain Naveen Nagappa who served with him in Kargil.

  • Retd Captain Naveen Nagappa at his residence where he has pictures from Operation Vijay adorning the wall. (Photo: The Quint)
  • (Photo: The Quint)
(Photo: <b>The Quint</b>)
(Photo: The Quint)

Captain Nagappa recalls Captain Vikram as a meticulous planner, who drew up in-depth plans for all operations. Calling him a fearless leader, he says Captain Vikram always led from the front. He, in fact, saved his life while sacrificing his own.

Here’s the full transcript of the interview.

He held my hand and dragged me out the bunker. Probably that saved my life because the counter-attack was already on.

7th July early morning I was sitting and firing towards the enemy. That is the time when a hand grenade was launched from the enemy. It landed right inside our bunker right in front of me. Then I got severely injured by the enemy grenade.

Captain Vikram Batra, sensing the danger, came running towards me. He held my hand and dragged me out of that particular bunker. Probably that saved my life as the counter-attack was already on.

Having saved my life, he continued with the attack. With disregard to his personal safety he charged forward, taking the only way available forward, which is a frontal attack, thereby eliminating the enemy and in the process, making the supreme sacrifice of losing his life – but not before hoisting the tricolour on top of Point 4875.

Captain Batra lost his life within half an hour of saving Naveen’s. Naveen later underwent 8 surgeries, and spent 21 months recovering in the command hospital in Srinagar.

Naveen had met Vikram just months before the Kargil War.

I joined Jammu and Kashmir Rifles in January 1999. During that time, Captain Batra had gone to attend his commando course. That was the time when I first came across him.

I remember one instance in which the enemy taunted us by saying “Humein Madhuri Dixit de do, toh hum yeh feature chodenge”. Captain Vikram Batra replied by firing from his machine gun and said “with love from Madhuri Dixit.”

That is the kind of officer he was. Even in the face of death, in the face of fear, he had the courage, the presence of mind to make fun of the Pakistanis.

Before setting out for the attack, its customary for all the officers to hug each other.

When I came to hug captain Vikram Batra, he told me a couple of things. The first one being:

Galey lagna yaaron na jaaney kaunsi mulaqaat aakhri hogi.

These words almost moved me to tears.

The second thing he told me was: Tumko bohot aage jaana. Himmat nahi haarna kyunki jeet humari hogi.

I personally having known Vikram Batra do remember him day in day out. As I said, the last hug was necessary and I wish I could have done it. 

This is the first part of a three-part series. Watch out for The Quint’s interviews with Captain Batra’s girlfriend Dimple Cheema and his twin brother Vishal Batra.

Producer:

Camera: Isha Purkayastha
Video Editing: Purnendu Pritam

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