If valor, courage and bravery had a name, it has to be Captain Vikram Batra. A fierce soldier whose fear made the Pakistan Army call him Sher Shah.
On July 26, 1999, the Indian Armed Forces won a gritty and decisive war against Pakistan. In the ferocious fight, many brave young soldiers set out their lives shielding their country on the inhospitable front line of Kargil.
It’s been more than twenty years since then. However the unmatched boldness and penance of Kargil legends are as yet carved in the collective memory of the nation. Among these numerous brave hearts was a man who would become the face of every young Indian soldier.
This is the story of Param Vir Chakra Captain Vikram Batra – The Kargil War Hero , the unbelievably courageous soldier who was a superhero in every manner.
Captain Vikram Batra was born on 9th September 1974 in Ghuggar village near Palampur in Himachal Pradesh. He received his primary education from his mother, Smt Kamal Batra who was a teacher and later on, received his middle school education at the D.A.V Public School, Palampur. After finishing his senior secondary education in Central School, Palampur, he got admitted in the D.A.V College in Chandigarh. Later in college Capt Batra joined NCC which became a stepping stone for him. He was granted the best NCC Cadet (Air Wing) in the zone.
In 1996, he was selected to join the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun. He was in Jessore Company of Manekshaw Battalion and was commissioned into 13 JAK Rifles. He was later promoted to the rank of Captain during the Kargil War of 1999.
Capt. Batra had selected by a Hong Kong based firm for a job in the merchant navy but he rejected it by saying;
“Money is not everything in life; I have to do something bigger in life, something great, something extraordinary, for my country.”
In 1999, when Kargil War broke out, Vikram had just completed a Commando Course at Belgaum and received a leave to celebrate Holi with his family at his home Palampur. Like he always, he headed to Neugal Cafe (a local riverside eatery) for a cup of coffee with his friend.
Soon after, Vikram’s unit received orders to move to Kargil and he reported for duty on June 1, 1999. Eighteen days later, on June 19, 1999, he received his first order to recapture Point 5140 in his first major battle in the war.
After a long battle, many enemy soldiers were killed and 13 J&K Rifles won a decisive victory.
His courage inspired his men to charge the enemy positions and on 20th June, they captured Point 5140. ‘Chanaky, it’s Shershah reporting!! We’ve captured the post! Yeh Dil Maange More!’ Captain Vikram Batra told his commanding officer after securing point 5140 , which later on became the catch-line for the Kargil War.
After winning the post 5140, he called his father via a satellite phone which his father can never forget despite of all the crackling voices of his son;
“Daddy, I’ve captured the enemy’s post. I’m OK, I’m OK.”
“Beta, I’m proud of you.
May God bless you to carry on your task”, replied the relieved father, reveling in the accomplishment of his brave son who had lived up to his name.
Vikram’s next operation was one of the most difficult mountain warfare campaigns undertaken during Kargil. The capture of the 17000 feet high Point 4875. The icy slopes of this peak were 80 degree steep (made even more precarious by the thick fog) and Pakistani troops had positioned themselves at the height of 16000 feet.
The enemy got wind of Capt Batra’s arrival.
They knew who Sher Shah was and by now his military prowess had become the stuff of legend. Capt Batra and another young officer, Lt Anuj Nayyar, fought the enemy’s counter-attack ferociously. They cleared enemy bunkers, egged their men forward, engaged in hand-to-hand combat and forced the Pakistanis to retreat.
The mission was almost over when a junior officer injured his legs in an explosion. As Vikram rushed out of the bunker to rescue him, his subedar begged him not to go. But Vikram told him: “Tu baal-bacchedar hain, hat ja peeche.”
As he attempted to save the young lieutenant, a bullet pierced through his chest. He breathed his last, saying the words, “Durga Mata Ki Jai” meaning “Victory to Goddess Durga”, the battle-cry of his Regiment
At Captain Vikram Batra – The Kargil War Hero funeral, his grief-stricken mother said, “Maybe there was a reason why God gave me twins — one he had marked for the country and one for me.”
He was given the nation’s highest gallantry award, “Param Vir Chakra” posthumously for his outstanding courage, leadership, and supreme sacrifice.
His saga of bravery is truly inspirational. He continues to be a ‘Sher Shah’, a title that will remain legendary in the Military history of Kargil War.