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‘I Dream of Being in the Army’: Major Anuj Sood’s Friends Recall

Major Anuj Sood’s friends and batchmates remember the passionate teenager who always dreamed of becoming a soldier.

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Video Editor: Mohd Ibrahim

(This was originally published on 6 May 2020 and is republished from The Quint archives after Maj Anuj Sood was awarded the Shaurya Chakra posthumously.)

I still have the slam book which Anuj had filled when we were leaving school. In the column which said, ‘I dream of becoming’, he wrote ‘An army officer’. The thing to note is that he wrote ‘ARMY OFFICER’ in capital letters, underlined it and put inverted commas. Such was his love for the nation and passion to achieve his aim.
Dr Manjyot Singh Chadha, Major Anuj Sood’s Friend

Major Anuj Sood was among the five security personnel who were killed in an encounter in Handwara, J&K. His friends and school batchmates remember the passionate teenager who always dreamed of becoming a soldier.

Anuj passed out of Punjab Public School, Nabha in 2008. After that he joined the National Defence Academy. His school friends Raghav Verma, Manjyot Chadha and Kamaljot were shocked at his sudden demise but at the same time proud of his supreme sacrifice for the nation. They recall him as a ‘bright teenager, a thorough gentleman and a dedicated soldier’.

The Quint also spoke to Mr Russeljit Khatra, who was his House Master at PPS Nabha. Anuj used to be a part of 'Jumna' House.

Major Anuj Sood with his friends
Major Anuj Sood with his friends
(Photo: Major Anuj Sood’s Friend)
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‘We Knew From School, Isse Toh Fauji Hi Banna Hai’

Dr Manjyot Singh Chadha was Major Sood’s classmate and close friend. In fact his father Mr MS Chadha was a classmate and close friend of Anuj’s father, Brig CK Sood. Both the dads were also students at PPS, Nabha.

Manjyot still has the slam book that Anuj had filled when they were in school. He recalls how in various column Anuj had penned how passionate he was about joining the forces. ‘He was always very clear that he wanted to join the Army,’ Dr Chadha recalls.

Another classmate Kamaljot Singh recalls how everyone in school knew he wanted to be a soldier, how he was passionate about his desire to join the forces and how he was never distracted from his goal. "Back in school if anyone asked Anuj what he wanted to be when he grew up, Anuj didn’t even have to answer that. Another friend would answer on his behalf, ‘We all know he wants to be a soldier.’’

Dr Chadha’s slam book filled by martyred Major Anuj Sood
Dr Chadha’s slam book filled by martyred Major Anuj Sood
(Photo: Dr Manjyot Singh Chadha, Major Anuj Sood’s Friend)

‘He Believed It was His Destiny To Become a Soldier’

Major Sood’s childhood friend Raghav Verma recalls how he was always determined to be a soldier and had a craze for joining the forces. ‘When he joined the National Defence Academy after class 12 exams, we were all so proud of him. He will continue to be an inspiration for all of us,’ Verma recalled.

Such was his passion that he was already half a ‘fauji’ in school. We used to tease him in school by calling him a ‘fauji’.
Raghav Verma, Major Anuj Sood’s Friend
Major Anuj Sood with his friends
Major Anuj Sood with his friends
(Photo: Major Anuj Sood’s Friend)

Not just his friends and school batchmates, even his teachers knew that joining the forces was his only goal in life.

What struck me about Anuj from the first time I met him, was how determined he was to join the army. His focus was very clear. He grew up looking up to his father Brig CK Sood. He always wanted to be like his father. He believed it was his destiny to be a soldier.
Russelljit Khatra, Major Sood’s House Master, Punjab Public School, Nabha  

‘He Was Ready To Face the Enemy Head On’

Ankur Yadav, Anuj’s friend over the last 13 years told us about an Instagram post shared by Anuj in April 2018. He says it reveals a lot about the kind of person Anuj was, the values he held and his passion towards his duty to the nation.

Major Anuj Sood’s instagram post
Major Anuj Sood’s instagram post
(Photo: Instagram screenshot)
‘When Anuj was posted in Kashmir, I had called him. I asked him isn’t it difficult and dangerous out there. every other day we hear there has been a terror attack in the valley. He replied, ‘This is why I joined the Indian Army’. I still remember these lines. He was always ready to face the army head on.
Kamaljot Singh, Major Anuj Sood’s Friend

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