Armies have always been a subject of fascination and admiration for civilisations, ever since they understood the need for conquests and began expansion of land boundaries. A large and powerful army was and still remains a flag for a powerful rule, a country, a kingdom not to be messed with.
India, Hindustan, Bharat, Aryavart or whatever other name you might like has been one of the favourite hunting grounds for armies. Over the past 1000 years, many Kings and emperors have been taken to the throne and have been dethroned in wars. But, that is history.
As of present, we live in a democracy, a country which has one of the largest standing armies in the world, with 1,129,900 active troops and 960,000 reserve troops. That is, trust us, enough to send chills down the spine of any country. In Spite of these numbers, we follow the policy of “ no attack without provocation” which has not served us very well until now. However, we do not go on establishing democracy in middle- east oil rich nations either. So it is a balanced game to be honest.
Talk to an Indian army personnel about their life in hard weather conditions and full of risks, and they will be humble about it. They will no doubt tell you about the problems faced, but never complain and grumble about it. On the off chance, they might do so in a private off the record conversation. But they remain very proud about their work, and their dedication is of course unbeatable. Seldom do we express our appreciation for their duty of keeping our motherland safe. Every soldier is a hero. And a hero never rests, not even in death. We try and remember some of these heroes, who laid down their lives. It is little to say how much we are really thankful to them.
MAJOR RAMASWAMY PARAMESWARAN
On November 25th, 1987 when Major Ramaswamy Parameswaran was returning late night from search operations, his troop was ambushed by a group of militants. He kept his cool and encircled the militants from behind and boldly charged towards them. The Major charged ahead and engaged in hand-to-hand combat with one of the militants and was shot in chest in the process. He snatched the rifle from the militant and shot him dead. In spite of being severely injured, he continued giving orders that inspired his troops even more. When the dust had settled, five militants were killed and their heavy weapons seized. He took his last breath on the same ground, but not before serving his duty to the greater good of humanity.
CAPTAIN MANOJ KUMAR PANDEY
Captain Manoj Kumar Pandey was tasked to clear the interfering enemy positions to prevent his battalion from getting day lighted, being in a vulnerable position. Even under intense enemy fire, he sent one section to clear the enemy positions from the right and he himself proceeded to clear the enemy positions from the left. Fearlessly assaulting the first enemy position, he killed two enemy personnel and destroyed the second position by killing two more. Undaunted and without caring for his grievous injuries, he continued to lead the assault on the fourth position urging his men and destroyed the same with a grenade, even as he got a fatal burst on his forehead. Finally his company captured the Position and Captain Pandey’s gallant act was recognized by awarding him Param Veer Chakra.
CAPTAIN VIKRAM BATRA
During Kargil War, Captain Vikram Batra of 13 JAK Rifles and his company was assigned the mission to recapture Point 5140. The enemy bunkers on top were approximately at an elevation of 5100 meters. He planned to lead the rear of his team for a surprise attack to stun the enemy. The team started ascending the sheer rock-cliff, but as they approached the top they were pinned down on the cliff face with machine gun fire. They reached top in spite of heavy artillery shelling and he hurled two grenades at the machine gun post. He single-handedly killed three Pakistani soldiers in a hand-to-hand combat. In the process he was seriously injured, but asserted on reorganizing his team and continuing on with the mission. Inspired by his courage, the soldiers of 13 JAK Rifles charged the enemy positions and destroyed them, capturing Point 5140 in June 20, 1999. His team was credited with killing 8 enemy soldiers and capturing a heavy anti-aircraft gun. Batra then led his team to triumph with the recapture of Point 4750 and Point 4875. During his mission to recapture Point 4875, he was killed trying to rescue an injured soldier. His last words were “Jai Mata Di.” The hilltop he conquered is called now named after him and called Batra Top.
HAVALDAR ABDUL HAMID
Havaldar Abdul Hamid was a soldier of 4th Battalion, The Grenadiers of the Indian Army, which was participating in an operation in Khemkaran during the 1965 India-Pakistan war. On September 8, Pakistanis attacked with a tank regiment having Patton Tanks. Havaldar Abdul Hamid destroyed two Patton Tanks and the battalion successfully saved the defensive position. On September 10, once again the enemy attacked with Patton tanks supported by artillery. Abdul Hamid saw that the enemy is moving towards the Defensive position. He moved towards the tank with his gun mounted on a jeep under the heavy artillery shelling and firing from the enemy side and destroyed 3 Patton tanks using the gun mounted on the jeep and sacrificed his life for the Nation.
RIFLEMAN LACHHIMAN GURUNG
Lachhiman Gurung was a rifleman of the British Indian Army during World War II. In May 1945, he was manning the forward position of his platoon in Burma. Suddenly his troops came under attack from 200 Japanese soldiers. Grenade attack killed most of his troops and others lay injured around him. He started hurling back the Japanese grenades that fell into his trench twice and in the third attempt the grenade exploded in his right hand severely injuring the whole right side of his face and body. With total disregard of his severe injuries, he loaded his rifle and started firing with his other good hand. He single handedly took on a troop of 200 Japanese soldiers for four hours. He calmly waited in his trench as the Japanese soldiers advanced, firing them at point blank range. In the morning on assessing the damage he had inflicted, 31 Japanese soldiers lay dead around his trench.
LANCE NAIK ALBERT EKKA
Lance Naik Albert Ekka, attached to the 14 Guards during Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971 was assigned with the mission to capture a Pakistani position at Gangasagar. Gangasagar is on the border between Tripura and the present Bangladesh. This was a well-fortified position held in good numbers by the enemy. The action commenced at early hours on December 4, 1971 when 14 Guards charged forward towards enemy position with heavy shelling from the enemy and soon engaged in hand-to-hand combat. They were soon confronted by light machine-gun and were pinned down inflicting heavy casualties on Indian side. Albert Ekka bravely charged forward towards the enemy bunker and bayoneted two enemies, finally silencing the machine gun. Severely injured, he continued to fight. His team had just cleared numerous enemy bunkers for 1.5 km when they were confronted by a medium machine-gun from the second storey of a well-fortified building. Albert Ekka killed one enemy soldier in the ground bunker and then proceeded to climb the sidewall of the two storey building to bayonet the enemy and silence the MMG. He accomplished the objective of mission, but later succumbed to his serious injuries.
CAPTAIN GURBACHAN SINGH SALARIA
Captain Gurbachan Singh Salaria was commissioned in 3rd battalion regiment of 1st Gorkha Rifles. The regiment was part of the 3000-soldier Indian aid to the U.N. Peacekeeping Force during the Congo Crisis of 1961. He was tasked with the job of clearing a roadblock set up by the Katangese troops on the road connecting the U.N. Headquarters and Katanga Headquarters. With the help of 3-inch mortar, the militant roadblock was destroyed and U.N. roadblock was established by the Gurkhas. During his efforts to link up with the Gorkha Company to reinforce the roadblock, he met strong opposition in an old open airfield area. The militants packed heavy artillery, 2 armoured cars and consisted of 90 men in dug-in trenches. Undeterred by the superior number and firepower of the militants, Gorkhas under the command of Gurbachan Singh Salaria charged forward with their bayonets, kukris, hand-grenades and a rocket launcher. In the encounter, he was hit by a bullet in the neck, but with total disregard to his safety he continued to command and charge forward with his troops. About 40 militants were killed and the two armoured cars were destroyed. Rest of the militants bolted the battlefield in a panic completely demoralized. Gurbachan Singh Salaria succumbed to his wounds due to excessive blood loss.
DISCLAIMER : This list does not aim to belittle other soldier’s sacrifice for the country and praise those mentioned here more. All these men put forth our country’s pride and safety ahead of their lives. This tiny list is a tribute to all those men of honour.
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