A Soldier is Never Off Duty: Remembering Uphaar Hero Capt Bhinder
Captain Bhinder lost his life in the Uphaar fire tragedy where he selflessly saved over 150 lives.
On 13 June 1997, Old Nabhaite Captain MS Bhinder, sacrificed his life trying to save trapped people in the Uphaar theatre fire tragedy.
He selflessly saved over 150 lives this day in 1997, when a raging fire broke out in the Uphaar cinema in New Delhi. Even after he realised that his four-year-old son, Ruskin and wife Jyot-Roop were engulfed in the inferno and could not be saved.
Capt Bhinder jumped back into the fire and took charge like a true army officer to guide panic-stricken women and children through the dim-lit and narrow stairway to safety, till flames engulfed him.
Indian Army lost one of its finest officers and riders. He had just won the National Games equestrian event in Mysore and was considered a strong prospect for the 1998 Asian Games.
The story doesn't end there. Parents of Capt Manjinder Bhinder had to fight the Ministry of Defence babus for the pension they were entitled to, who hung on to the technicality that Capt Bhinder had not been fighting enemies.
He was fighting fire even while the army had declared his death “attributable to military service”. After seven years of litigation, the Delhi High Court told the MoD that a soldier is on duty round the clock and ordered a special family pension.
Read some more articles on Capt Bhinder compiled here.
(Dr Jashanjot Bhangu is the ex-secretary of Old Nabhaites Association (ONA) which is the group of old boys of Punjab Public School in Nabha.)
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