Has history betrayed the sacrifice of Shaheed Sukhdev?

In 2002, a small article was published in newspaper which described the poor condition of late revolutionary Sukhdev’s family which is managing its day to day living by selling lottery tickets. Had the great patriot Sukhdev paid a big price by giving up his life for nation that today his family is living in dire situations? There isn’t any government’s monetary help to them nor has any NGO shown any support towards this poor family of Sukhdev who once fought for freedom along with Bhagat Singh and Azad. After reading this article, I was compelled to know the story of Sukhdev who was betrayed by history as well as our nation. Whatever history we have read in our school days about freedom struggle is not even 1% of the actual facts recorded in pages of history.

Photo of the great patriot - Sukhdev Thapar

Photo of the great patriot – Sukhdev Thapar

History has glorified Gandhi and Nehru but didn’t give due to the brave hearts like Sukhdev who changed the course of armed revolution through his strategic mind set by planning the assassination of ruthless officer Saunders and undergoing hunger strike to protest against the inhuman treatment given to patriots in jail.

Sukhdev was hanged along with Bhagat Singh and Rajguru on 23rd March 1931

Sukhdev was hanged along with Bhagat Singh and Rajguru on 23rd March 1931

Born in Ludhiana, Sukhdev Thapar was brought up his uncle Lala Achintram. Sukhdev was a close associate, friend and a senior member of Hindustan Republican Association. Right from his childhood, Sukhdev had taken vow to sacrifice his life for nation and his fervour was so great that he never married and gave up his life at ripe age of 23. It was Sukhdev who planned the assassination to kill British Police officer Scott who was responsible for death of senior patriot Lala Lajpat Rai. Bhagat Singh and Rajguru executed the plan by killing the British officer only to realize that it was not Scott, but Saunders. Even Saunders was equally responsible for killing of Lalaji and thus it was eventually avenged by Bhagat Singh, Azad and Rajguru.

When Government was planning to pass the Trade dispute bill and Public Safety Bill, it was Bhagat Singh who planned to hurl bombs at legislative assembly to protest against the bills. Though Bhagat was keen to execute the plan, Azad disapproved the plan. For Azad, Bhagat’s life was very valuable for HRA. When Sukhdev came to know that Bhagat Singh wasn’t participating in the mission, he scolded Bhagat Singh severely. Sukhdev knew that no one could execute the plan better than Bhagat Singh. Finally Bhagat Singh somehow convinced Azad to go in assembly and hurl bombs to protest against the bill. Sukhdev’s eyes were soaked in tears because he suspected Bhagat Singh’s dedication towards nation and was blaming himself for pushing his friend towards the doors of death. After Bhagat Singh’s arrest, Sukhdev handled the day to day activities of HRA until a mole in the party gave the clue about the whereabouts of HRA’s location and its members.

Sukhdev was miserably beaten up in jail by British police but he never succumbed to the torture. He equally participated in hunger strike along with Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and all other members of HRA. Later, Jaigopal a member of HRA turned traitor and revealed all the details and plans of the party. Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev were sentenced to death. On 23rd March 1931, Sukhdev marched to the gallows along with Rajguru and Bhagat Singh. Though Nation had sent a massive petition through letters to pardon the death sentence of these 3 heroes, but the brutal government didn’t pay any heed to the mercy plea. The bodies of these brave hearts were secretly smuggled out of jail and cremated on the banks of river Satluj.

There was a twist to the story in the Lahore conspiracy case in which it was revealed that it was Sukhdev who revealed all the details to the police because he couldn’t bear the torture of police. This false allegation was made by Hansraj Vohra, a lesser known member of HRA. According to sources, it was Yashpal who was secret mole in the party and was responsible for passing information to police. It is so sad to know that such false, insulting allegations were made against this selfless patriot who died along with Bhagat Singh. What an irony that even after sacrificing his life, Sukhdev was suspected as a traitor? Had Sukhdev turned a traitor then he should have been spared by the British?

The role of Sukhdev was played by Sushant Singh in 2002 biopic - Legend of Bhagat Singh

The role of Sukhdev was played by Sushant Singh in 2002 biopic – Legend of Bhagat Singh

In 2002, director Rajkumar Santoshi made a biopic – Legend of Bhagat Singh which was based on Bhagat. The movie also featured the story of Sukhdev Thapar which was brilliantly played by actor Sushant Singh. Sadly there is no full-fledged biopic on Sukhdev.

Today the memories of Sukhdev, Bhagat Singh and Rajguru are fading away from the minds of youngsters. It is high time that the stories of these great heroes should be passed to the coming generation. Hope this article serves as a story teller to narrate the story of a forgotten hero named ‘Sukhdev’.

Remembering the 1971 war hero – 2nd Lt. Arun Khetarpal

‘War never ends quietly’ – lines from Hollywood war movie ‘Fury’

An iconic photo of 2nd Lt. Arun Khetarpal

An iconic photo of 2nd Lt. Arun Khetarpal

Really war never ends quietly. It claims the lives of soldiers on both ends. Bullets are fired, bomb shells are thrown, battle tanks are exploded on the grassy earth. What later left are just the motionless, bloodied bodies of soldiers. In 1971 Indo-Pak war, India lost several great soldiers like Albert Ekka, Nirmaljit Singh Sekhon and 2nd Lt. Arun Khetarpal. The tank battle in 1971 war changed the course of history causing a striking defeat to the enemy soldiers. It was the young officer – 2nd Lt. Arun Khetarpal who struck a terror in heart of enemies through his courage which he displayed till his last breath. His tank ‘Famagusta’ took an aim of several tanks of enemies and destroyed it, giving a striking reply to the invaders. Even though his tank was set on fire, 2nd Lieutenant Arun didn’t move away from the line of action.
He kept on targeting the invaders’ tanks till an enemy’s tank took an aim of Famagusta. Though Arun Khetarpal attained martyrdom in the war, his exemplary courage had caused heavy casualties on enemy’s side.

Born in family of army officers, Arun always aspired to become an army officer right from his childhood. When the war was declared, Arun’s mother bid him farewell with these words – ‘Fight like a lion and don’t come back a coward’. Little did she realize this was her last meeting with Arun. Despite getting the orders to back off from the burning tank, Arun stayed back in his tank and retaliated on the enemies till he became the target of enemies’ tank. In this fierce battle, he destroyed 4 enemy tanks and didn’t allow a single enemy tank to strike back. Though he died in this 1971 tank battle, his efforts brought victory to Indian army.

‘No sir, I will not abandon my tank. My gun is still working and I will get these bastards’ – the lines spoken by Arun Khetarpal during the battle of Basantar

The tank ‘Famagusta’ in which Arun fought has been restored and kept as a courageous memory in Armour school, Ahmedgarh. The tank ‘Famagusta’ is a preserved memento of 1971 war where brave Indians like Arun Khetarpal gave up their lives fighting with invaders. The news of Arun’s death was a shocking blow to his parents, especially to his mother who was waiting eagerly for her son’s return.
He did return, but in form of ashes.

The Amar Chitra Katha book - Paramvir Chakra featured the story of Arun Khetarpal

The Amar Chitra Katha book – Paramvir Chakra featured the story of Arun Khetarpal

The recently published book – The Brave written by Rachna Bisht Rawat is based on Paramvir Chakra awardees. It was this book where I got to know in detail about 2nd Lt. Arun Khetarpal. The author Rachna Bisht Rawat had interviewed late Arun Khetarpal’s mother in which her mother described about her son despite suffering memory loss. The 81 years old lady told about Arun’s childhood days, his zeal to join army and his love for saxophone. Sadly Mrs Maheshwari Khetarpal, mother of Arun passed away in 2013 before the book ‘The Brave’ was published. Salute to the great mother who gave birth to such a Braveheart who fought till his last breath for the honour of nation.

‘Wars are created by politicians, compounded by bureaucrats and fought by soldiers’ – Quote

Even Brigadier Naser of Pakistan praised Arun’s courage. By matter of coincidence Arun’s father Brigadier M.L.Khetarpal met Brigadier Naser and during the meeting Brigadier Naser revealed that it was he who blew up Arun’s tank in 1971 war. In the Battle of Basantar, The tank of Arun was pitted against Naser’s tank. They fired at each other. Sadly, Arun missed his mark. In this emotional meeting, Brigadier Naser sought the forgiveness of Arun’s father for killing his son.

Such was the greatness of Arun’s courage that even his enemies honoured him. In the 1971 war, India also lost two great soldiers – Albert Ekka and flying officer Nirmaljit Sekhon. It is sad to know that the stories of brave army officers like Arun Khetarpal are not known to younger generation in full detail. Recently Amar Chitra Katha came up with a graphic novel based on Paramvir Chakra Awardees in which story of 2nd Lt. Arun Khetarpal was featured. Hope someday Bollywood should take an initiative to make a biopic on 2nd Lt. Arun Khetarpal and showcase the courage of army officers on silver screen.

Though this article is just a small effort to showcase the legend of brave army officer – Arun Khetarpal, I have tried my level best to pay my tribute to this great son of our motherland. Hope this article inspires the young boys to join army.

The road to the bazaar – A nostalgic collection of childhood stories by Ruskin Bond

There is an old world charm in writings of Ruskin Bond. For those people who love hill side locations, tea plantations, trees filled with ripe fruits, the whistle of old age train and the colourful bazaar full of chaat stalls , then Ruskin Bond’s books will take you to this world. A world untouched by neck breaking competition, cynical city people, technology, hatred and pollution, Ruskin Bond’s books take you on a vacation where you take a trip down the memory lane. ‘The road to the bazaar’ is an anthology of 16 stories that is centred on Dehra, the hometown and backdrop of Ruskin Bond’s stories. Have you played a rookie from school and taken a train journey to an unknown destination? Have you formed a cricket club and showed your batsman skills against your opposite team? ‘The road to the bazaar is about re-discovering childhood innocence and rewind back to the times of happiness.

road-to-the-bazaar

The short stories and the playful moments are seen through eyes of Koki, Suraj, Ranji, Amir, Teju and Mukesh – the kids of Dehra. Every short story in this collection unveils the simplicity of hill side life. There is such a magic in Bond’s writing that you will be compelled to leave city life and settle down in hill stations. Such is the impact of Ruskin Bond’s books. In today’s mobile-driven world, we are so engrossed to the screen of our smartphones that we have forgotten to connect with compassion, humanity and affection. It is high time that we keep aside our gadgets and bond with life’s simplicity. ‘The road to bazaar’ is one of the best anthologies by author Ruskin Bond which will remind you of your school days. Once you enjoy reading this book, do read ‘The night train at Deoli and other stories’ penned by Ruskin Bond.

2016 – An encouraging year of story telling

There is hardly any ink left to come up on paper. The pen in my stationery box requires a new nib. There are only two blank papers left on my writing table. Despite all these shortcomings, the creativity is eager to burst. This is story of every writer including me. Though technology has made the writing process easy, thanks to writing apps like WordPress, I can publish as many stories as I want till I suffer a writer’s block. 2016 will be counted as an encouraging year in my diary. The blog writing for my wordpress blog started on an inspiring note with article on Neerja Bhanot, the courageous flight attendant who gave her life defending the terrorists on the plane. I really salute her courage. It was great experience writing two stories on Neerja. It was followed later by several inspiring articles.

Among all articles, the article on Vikram Batra was a dream come true. The story of Vikram Batra was on my wish list for several years, but somewhere the story never shaped as I expected for. Seeing the 1000 words article published on Captain Vikram Batra was fulfilling experience for me. Apart from story of Captain Vikram Batra, I too penned down stories of Captain Anuj Nayyar, Captain Manoj Pandey, Captain Vijayant Thapar, Rifleman Jaswant Singh Rawat and the Chittagong’s Braveheart – Kalpana Datta.

The most proud moment for me was receiving mind blowing comments on my 2015 article – The Blue Umbrella. The ‘Blue Umbrella’ story has got 41,516 views on wordpress and the views and comments are increasing month by month. I owe this to all my friends and readers who boost my writing with their encouraging comments.

There were several stories on my wish list which I wanted to write on my blog but couldn’t publish it due to my personal commitments. There are more stories which I am promising to write and publish on my blog in 2017 which will include the story of ‘Rezang la war’, ‘the international spy Mata Hari’ and the glamorous downfall of Marilyn Monroe. Hope God gives me the wisdom, blessings and inspiring ideas to keep my fingers tapping on my laptop. Again a million thanks to all my friends who never let me down by pouring their uplifting words on my comment box. It means a lot to me than bagging a booker prize. Thanks for making 2016 rocking. Hope this inspiring association of reading and writing continues in 2017 too.

Happy Reading!!!!
Prashant