(This post was written by Shrivastan V, I am publishing here on my blog, on his behalf. A very well written tribute to Captain Vikram Batra, Kargil martyr on eve of his birth anniversary).
In May 1999, Pakistan tried to infiltrate along the Line of Control (LOC) between India and Pakistan in Kargil. Indian Army arrived at Kargil to give a befitting reply to Pakistan and to defend its motherland again. The Kargil war is one of the example of high altitude warfare fought in mountainous terrain. Captain Vikram Batra of 13 Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) Rifles was a part of the army battalion that reached Kargil.
Capt. Vikram Batra was born on September 9, 1974 to Mr. Girdhari Lal Batra and Mrs. Jai Kamal Batra in Himachal Pradesh. Vikram did his schooling in DAV Public School and Central School, Palampur where he excelled not only in studies but also in extracurricular activities too. After his schooling, Vikram pursued B.Sc. in Mathematics in DAV College, Chandigarh where he enrolled in the National Cadet Corps. He was named the Best NCC Cadet (Air Wing) in two zones and also as a part of NCC, Vikram participated in the 1994 Republic Day Parade. After that, Vikram undertook a 40 day Helicopter Flying Course at Pinjore Flying Club and by the year 1996, he has joined the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun.
In 1997, Lt. Vikram Batra reported for duty at 13 J&K Rifles where he was sent for Young Officer’s course at Infantry School in Madhya Pradesh and later for Commando Training at Belgaum, Karnataka. During May 1999, when the news of Kargil intrusions came, 13 J&K Rifles was one of the regiments that was summoned to Kargil immediately and the 1st task assigned to them was to recapture the bunkers on Point 5140, which was at an altitude of 17,000 feet.
On June 19,1999, Lt. Vikram Batra [later promoted as Captain in the Battle Field] was assigned this task of recapturing Point 5140. That night, Lt. Batra and his men secretly climbed the mountains. Vikram Batra was determined not to lose any of his men. The motto of Indian Army Code which said “The safety, honour and welfare of your country come first and every time. The honour, welfare and comfort of the men you command come next. Your own ease, comfort and safety come last, always and every time” molded Lt. Vikram Batra into a gentleman soldier. Once during his first posting in Sopore in Jammu and Kashmir, a terrorist’s bullet meant for him killed a fellow soldier beside him and it left him disturbed for days. The better moment to live by the motto of Indian Army had come now for Lt. Batra in his first Major Battle where he wanted to capture Point 5140 without any losses. Once their positions were taken, Lt. Batra ordered his men to charge leading them from the front. Lt. Batra and his men took down heavy machine gunfire as well as the Pakistani soldiers hiding in their bunkers. It took less than an hour for Lt. Batra and his comrades to completely rout the Pakistani army that was defending Point 5140 and Lt. Batra accomplished it without the loss of a single life. He immediately called his Commanding Officer at the base camp and said “Yeh Dil Maange More!” which became the catchline of the Kargil War. The Chief of Indian Army at that time, General VP Mallik personally called Lt. Vikram Batra and Lt. Batra now became Captain Vikram Batra.
The next day, Captain Vikram Batra called his father via satellite phone. He spoke very fast and his voice wasn’t clear and the only words Mr. Giridhari Lal Batra ( Capt. Vikram’s father) heard was “Daddy, I ‘ve captured”. Mr. G.L. Batra immediately thought that his son was captured but Captain Vikram Batra immediately spoke “ Daddy, I have captured the enemy’s post. I’m OK”. It was the happiest moment in Mr. G.L. Batra’s life. He named his son “Vikram” because the name spelled character and strength and his son lived up to his name. Mr. Giridhari Batra and Mrs. Kamal Batra received their last call from Captain Vikram Batra on June 29, 1999. This time, he was off to accomplish a new mission.
Captain Vikram Batra and his fellow officer, Captain Anuj Nayyar were assigned the task of recapturing Point 4750 and Point 4875 which was the last barriers before capturing Tiger Hill. Battling all odds, Captain Batra and Captain Nayyar fought their way through the Pakistani Lines. Captain Anuj Nayyar got killed while trying to clear the last bunker at Point 4875 and Captain Vikram Batra was clearing the last lines of Pakistani Resistance when an explosion took place and one of Captain Batra’s men got immobilised by the explosion which injured his legs. As Captain Batra rushed to help the injured soldier, his Subedar offered to go himself but Captain Batra shoved his aside saying “You have a family with children. Step Aside”. As he proceeded forward to save the injured soldier, a bullet pierced his chest which took his life. Indian army recaptured Point 4875 but lost Captain Vikram Batra. Captain Vikram Batra’s last words were “Jai Mata Di”.
Before leaving for Kargil war, Captain Vikram had said to a resident of Palampur “I’ll either come back after raising the Indian flag in victory or return wrapped in it.” Captain Batra came back home wrapeed in the Indian flag. Captain Vikram Batra was awarded the highest gallantry award, Param Veer Chakra posthumously. General Mallik, the then Chief of Army Staff had said “Had Vikram returned from Kargil, he would be sitting at my post in 15 years”. A bust of Captain Vikram Batra has been erected in Palampur to honour him with an inscription “I want to capture more peaks”.