“Brave sons and war heroes like Capt Vikram Batra are rare and they are born once in a century. They write the saga of their extraordinary courage, steadfast resolve for the history books, and quietly immerse themselves in the atmosphere ”.
In the words of GL Batra, 75, the proud father of Kargil war hero Capt Vikram Batra, his son has attained martyrdom, which not only elevated the nation but his valour was even acknowledged by the Pakistanis.
"What more accomplishment could there be for a father like me when the nation will celebrate the “Kargil Vijay Divas” and Capt Vikram Batra will be remembered with great pride for his supreme sacrifice for the sacrifice at the age of 24," GL Batra asks.
What makes Batra, a retired Principal, really proud is the fact that of total of four Param Vir Chakra (PVC) awardees --Yogendra Singh Yadav, Manoj Pandey, Capt Vikram Batra and Rifleman Sanjay Kumar—two including Batra and Kumar belonged to Himachal Pradesh.
“Kargil war was one of the toughest wars fought in the most inhospitable conditions, both due to its geographical and climatic conditions. The enemy was at a higher elevation after having captured the peaks. Our soldiers had to climb, crawl, fight the enemies, eliminate them and recapture strategic points of the country’s pride and safety” says the martyr’s father.
Recalling those moments of the Kargil war, he says his son spoke to him over the landline phone just once during the war. It was to break the news about having been recaptured and freed to point 5140 without a single casualty from his team. The successful operation went down as huge success and was conducted during night hours, making it an even more impressive feat for Capt Batra and his men.
The television channels already beamed the achievement of the Indian army with a spotlight on Capt Batra , who was also interviewed by reporters but his father had missed it.
It was an early morning that Batra's phone started ringing. The call caused him to panic as he realised Capt Batra has not contacted him or given any updates of his well being ever since his unit – Jammu and Kashmir Rifles ( known as 13 JAK RIF) moved to the Drass sector from Sopore in Kashmir.
“Daddy, I've...captured,” Capt Batra told him over the phone. He was perhaps using a satellite phone he himself made. His voice was cracking and was very unclear.
This was at the same time when Capt Saurabh Kalia, another young officer who also hailed from Palampur town in Himachal Pradesh was captured by the Pakistan army, tortured and his brutally mutilated body handed back to the army.
“For a few seconds, I could not comprehend what he wanted to tell me-- captured? Who? “ I asked quickly.
Capt Batra, however, soon cleared the confusion by adding “Arre Daddy, Don't worry, I am ok. But, I wanted to give you some good news.I have (re)captured the post from the enemies without a single casualty".
Batra says he will never forget that phone call in his whole life. "My chest swelled with pride. Freeing point 5140 was really a stepping stone to conquering the final battle to Tololing and Tiger hill—eventually the Kargil victory," Batra recalls.
Batra, who now delivers motivational speeches at educational institutions, seminars and workshops all over India, narrates the anecdote proudly wherever he is invited
Soon after this great accomplishment, Capt Batra volunteered to lead another assault for point 4875 at a height of 18,000 feet.
It was at this stage Capt Batra—nicknamed “Sher Shah” (The lion king) for his extraordinary bravery and leadership was interviewed by some TV channels, and his punchline – ‘Dil Maange More’ became a household phrase across the country. A mountain peak was also christened 'Batra Peak' in the war hero's honour to commemorate his bravery and landmark achievement.
Born on September 9, 1974, at Palampur – the tea town of Kangra where the army has a sizeable presence, Capt Vikram Batra went on to study in DAV Public School in Palampur. After middle school there, Batra went on to complete his high school at Central School.
To pursue higher education, Batra attended DAV College in Chandigarh where he graduated. It was here that he joined the Air Wing of the National Cadet Corps (NCC).
Having been inspired by some members of his maternal family serving the force, Capt Batra made up his mind to join the Indian army himself.
During his college itself, Batra underwent a 40-day para trooping training with the NCC Air Wing unit at Pinjore Airfield following which he trained with the Flying Club for the next two years.
“Even while he was selected in the Merchant navy in 1995 for a shipping company of Hong Kong with a high salary package, my son declined the offer and instead chose to don the uniform and serve the nation” Batra's father recalls.
Speaking to Outlook ahead of Kargil Bijay Diwas, the martyr's father says, “I believe he was born for a cause, which he accomplished with honour and grace as a soldier should be doing in the battlefield. My wife Kamal Kanta Batra and I feel that his supreme sacrifice will always be written and rewritten as an example of patriotism and steadfast loyalty for the nation”.
Speaking of the old enemy Pakistan, Batra is of the view that India must remain watchful against its neighbour, which is always up to some mischief. He, however, adds that Pakistan knows very well that it can’t match the valour and capabilities of the Indian army. "Supporting militants with weapons, pushing infiltrators to create troubles in India and LOC violations are the most common things even today. But, the scrapping of Article 370 is definitely a blow to Pakistan and its gameplans in Kashmir," Vikram adds.
On how he remembers his son today, the Kargil war hero, on "Vijay Divas", Batra says "Vikram was our blood and flesh but like many sons of the nation defending boundaries against the enemies, whether Pakistan or China, his supreme sacrifice is a moment of honour for us in the family. I am extremely proud of him, his maturity and valour," the martyr's father concludes.