‘Every army begins with one man’ – lines from movie ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’
In late 80’s and 90’s, G.I.J.O.E action figures were craze in the toy stores. Based on the cartoon TV show on Doordarshan, it captured the imagination of little kids like me. I used to play with the action figures and create my own war stories which were quite closer to war movies like ‘Saving Private Ryan’. From that moment I always aspired to become a soldier someday. Somewhere in Palampur, a kid had already decided to dedicate his life to armed forces. This kid was the great Kargil braveheart Captain Vikram Batra who took a bullet on his heart while defending Kargil from invaders.
‘Hamare desh mein army man ko Superman kehte hain’
The TV serial – Paramvir Chakra on Doordarshan was an inspiration for the little Vikram. Instead of opting for merchant Navy, he decided to join armed forces. Despite suffering from high fever, Captain Vikram Batra scaled high peaks even in disastrous weather conditions, motivating his soldiers at every instance.
The intrusion of Pakistani army in Kargil sector was an alarming moment for Indian army. All the official leaves of army officers were cancelled. The year 1999 was a difficult time for every mother who had her son posted on Kargil. Kargil war was the first national event that got media coverage and was reported on news channels by several reporters including Barkha Dutt. Brave officers like Vijayant Thapar and Padmapani Acharya were killed in the horrific war. Reporter Barkha Dutt had personally interviewed Captain Vikram Batra and his patriotism had already won the hearts of several Indians. After capturing Point 5140, Vikram Batra became an inspiring icon for youngsters. His victory cry ‘Yeh Dil Maange More’ became a rage among masses. Vikram had plans to marry his fiancée Dimple once the war was over. Unfortunately the point 4875 claimed the life of Captain Vikram Batra before he could fulfill his dreams. While capturing this point, Vikram was shot down by an enemy’s sniper. Though Vikram died defending Kargil, he saved the life of one of his fellow soldier – Captain Naveen Nagappa. In an interview retired captain Naveen Nagappa recounted the war events and how bravely Vikram rescued his life by dragging Naveen out of the bunker. Ironically Captain Vikram Batra collapsed to the enemy’s bullet within an hour after saving Naveen.
Fondly called as ‘Shershah’ Vikram’s bravery had sent shivers of fears among the enemies.
‘Either I will come after hoisting the tricolor flag in Kargil or return wrapped in tricolor flag but I will return for sure – words spoken by Captain Vikram Batra
It will be 18 years this 2017 when the brave boys went to war in Kargil in 1999. Some returned alive while some returned wrapped in tricolor. They did return for sure, giving a befitting reply to the enemies and winning the Kargil war.
It is such a sad irony that biopics have been made on Sachin Tendulkar, M.S.Dhoni but no one has cared to make a biopic in memory of Captain Batra. J.P. Dutta’s 2003 war movie – LOC: Kargil is the only movie that immortalized the courageous story of Vikram Batra. The role of Captain Vikram Batra was brilliantly portrayed by actor Abhishek Bachchan.
Now Palampur is not just the hometown of Vikram Batra, it has become a historical destination where brave heroes like Major Somnath Sharma and Captain Vikram Batra were born.
Today the mountains at Kargil still echo with the victory cry of Captain Vikram Batra – ‘Yeh Dil Maange More’.
‘Yeh Dil Maange More’ – lines spoken by Captain Vikram Batra
These lines aren’t written by any advertising copywriter. These lines were coined by Major Vikram Batra which he used as a coded message after conquering every point from invaders. Captain Batra showed his dare devilry in Kargil War, facing the bullets and attaining martyrdom at age of 24. When civilians like me were pursuing degree to become a corporate slave, Captain Batra had already become a legend.
Very few people are blessed to become war heroes and Vikram Batra was one of them. Batra’s code name was ‘Shershah.’ Military officers are given this code name to communicate with their senior authorities. Instead of opting for a merchant navy job, Vikram enrolled for army at Indian Military academy in Dehradun.
His dare-devilry raised him to the position of Captain. In 1999, when Kargil was invaded by Pakistan, Captain Vikram Batra was assigned to recapture the peak 5140. Captain Batra with his team ‘Delta company’ ascended the highest peak 5140 confronting chilling cold, fatigue, exhaustion with only one goal in mind – free Kargil from the invaders. While climbing this peak, Batra and his team faced the bullets from the enemies. Despite all this, Captain Batra and his team reached the top and threw grenades. Captain Batra slayed three soldiers in deadly combat which left him seriously wounded. The mission of capturing point 5140 was successful. Along with his delta team, Batra went on to recapture several points – 5100, 4700 and 4875.
‘Every man dies, not everyone really lives’ – lines from movie Braveheart
Capturing Point 4875 and final martyrdom – This was one of the most challenging and toughest peaks to capture for Captain Batra and his team. Climbing a 16,000 feet high peak was highly impossible task for any ordinary person. Braving the obstacle of heavy fogs, Captain Batra and his team climbed the 16,000 feet high peak on 7th July 1999. The delta team attacked the enemies and took control of point 4875. The large heartedness of Captain Batra was witnessed by his team when he took bullets on himself while saving one of his members from delta team. During the attack, he pushed aside his Subedar friend and faced the enemies’ bullets because he cared for his friend who had wife and children. This brave tiger of Kargil breathed his last while capturing the point 4875. His uttered the last words ‘Jai Mata di’. Operation Vijay wouldn’t have been successful without the efforts of Captain Vikram Batra and his delta team.
Captain Anuj Nayyar was one more brave heart who laid his life in Kargil war along with Vikram Batra. Captain Anuj Nayyar was recently engaged. During the war time, Anuj handed over his engagement ring to one of his friends to keep it safe till he returns. He never wanted the ring to fall in hands of enemies if he was killed. Sadly Anuj never returned back to get his engagement ring. He was the only child of his parents. It was very traumatic experience for his parents to bear the loss of their son. Unfortunately government never pays heed to the family of the soldiers who laid their lives for country.
Even Vikram Batra had plans to get married to his fiancée once he returned from war. But good fortunes were not in side of Vikram. He returned wrapped in Tri-color flag. Before going to war, he had promised his parents that he would return either by hoisting the flag on Kargil or come wrapped in ‘Tiranga’. His fiancée never got married. She devoted her life to teaching. Vikram’s gifts and letters were prized possessions to her. Sadly, no one bothers to know what happened to a soldier’s family after his death. Batra’s parents were badly collapsed after hearing the news of his son’s death in Kargil war. They had twin sons – Vikram and Vishal. Vikram’s parents realized why God had given them twins. One would serve for country while other would take care of them. Vikram Batra was awarded ‘Paramvir Chakra’ for his sacrifice defending Kargil from invaders.
On the 10th death anniversary of Vikram, his twin brother Vishal Batra visited Leh Ladakh. He took a gaze at the high peaks of Kargil where Vikram Batra died fighting with the invaders. Vishal Batra in his interview with Barkha Dutt mentioned about the last letter of Vikram.
‘Life is at total risk. Anything can happen here. Take care of yourself and Mom & Dad. My picture has appeared in Times of India’. Keep a copy for me. I want to see it once I am back.” – Excerpt from the letter of Captain Vikram Batra to his brother Vishal.
The photo of Captain Vikram Batra featured on front page of Times of India on 2nd July 1999. He was standing with an anti-aircraft gun and weapons in the photo.
Vishal Batra even met Sub Major Raghunath Singh, the survivor of Kargil war. He broke in tears when he saw Vishal Batra. Since Vishal was twin brother of Vikram, everyone saw the reflection of their commander Vikram in him. Raghunath recalled the moments of war. Actually it was Raghunath who was rushing to save a junior officer during the firing, but Vikram stopped him and took the initiative to save the junior officer. Since Vikram knew that Raghunath was a family man, Vikram couldn’t risk the life of Raghunath. In the action of rescuing the junior soldier, Vikram was fatally shot with a sniper rifle by the enemy. Even Vishal Batra had dreams to join armed forces, but later settled on to become a banker.
A letter enclosed in an envelope is a precious gift for a soldier who reads this letter and even narrates the letters to his friends. He is far away from his family, friends but his heart is always close to them. Sadly, today’s youngsters won’t realize the value of letter because they are too busy messaging on Whatsapp. Only a soldier like Captain Vikram Batra can realize the emotions of words written in the letter.
In movies – The role of Captain Vikram Batra was played by actor Abhishek Bachchan in J.P.Dutta’s movie – LOC: Kargil which was based on Kargil war.
In Books – Vikram Batra’s father G.L.Batra has written a new book -Paramvir Vikram Batra:Shershah of Kargil which is published by Times Group Publications. In this book his father recounts the memories of Vikram right from his childhood to his martyrdom at Kargil.
Amar Chitra Katha released a comic book on Indian soldiers in which Captain Vikram Batra’s story was presented. Hope someday a full-fledged biopic is made on life of Captain Batra and his fellow soldiers – Anuj Nayyar, Manoj Kumar Pandey who died for nation’s pride.
Someday I will definitely visit palampur, the hometown of captain vikram batra and offer my respects to the statue of this kargil hero who took a bullet on his heart for our nation. Palampur is now a sacred place where great heroes like vikram batra and Major Somnath Sharma lived.
This is a small effort on my side to remember Captain Batra and all other soldiers who freed Kargil from the invaders. Please do share this article with all your friends.