Are some people born to be heroes? Are there men, who are destined for greatness? Men who in spite of having all the qualities that would ensure them success in the world, sacrifice it all for others?
Every once in while, there have been such men and women in this country’s history, men and women who were born to do something extraordinary. Capt. Vikram Batra was clearly one such man – one in a billion!
As a school kid, when a young girl had fallen from his school bus, he had jumped off from the moving bus without any hesitation. Hurt, he had then taken the injured girl to a nearby hospital. “He was daring, helpful, he would go out at midnight if anyone asked for his help,” says his father G.L. Batra.
Capt. Vikram was a brilliant student, always scoring very high grades in school and college. He happened to be an exceptional sportsman, excelling in most sports, with table tennis and skating being one of his favourites. He even played nationals in Table Tennis during his school days.
As if these qualities were not enough in one man alone, he happened to possess a magnetic personality, an aura of positivity that everyone fell in love with. “His face always glowed, he was always smiling, and he had a very infectious laughter. A no holds bar laughter,” his father tells me, the memories of his son’s laughter bringing a smile to his face. “Everyone in the this small town loved him,” he says.
The infectious smile of this extraordinary man was soon witnessed and felt by a nation in crises, and the nation too, fell in love.
During the Kargil invasion of 1999 by Pakistan, (at the time) Lt. Batra, 13 JAK Rifles, and his Delta Company were ordered to recapture peak 5140 on June 19, five weeks after the war began.
Nicknamed Sher Sha of Kargil, Lt. Batra showed exceptional courage and intellect to capture the peak. He single-handedly killed three enemy fighters in dangerous close-range combat. Regardless of his injuries, Captain Batra regrouped his men to pave the way for Indian soldiers to advance further in the Kargil war
‘Yeh Dil Maange More’ is our company’s success signal, he said to the camera with a smile. It was the confident smiling visage of this hero that calmed the nation, which made its one billion people believe that everything will be okay.
The capture of Point 5140 set in motion a string of successes for the Indian army. A few days later Lt. Batra was assigned to an urgent mission to recapture peak 4875. With an 80-degree slope to the peak where the Pakistani army sat with a clear view of the climb, this was nothing less than a death trap. In the early morning hours of 7 July 1999, he commanded a mission to rescue an injured officer.
During the rescue attempt, he pushed aside his Subedar, saying “Tu baal-bacchedar hai, hat ja peeche.“(You have children, step aside) and was killed in action while clearing enemy positions. His last words were, “Jai Mata Di.”
It was seventeen years ago that he lost his life fighting for our country, but heroes never die, and PVC Capt. Vikram Batra lives on. His bravery, his sacrifice, his intelligence, his charm, and that infectious smile, they all live on in our hearts.