Introduction

In the chapter, the author addresses about the brave heroic deeds of some great martyrs, who lost their lives while fighting for their motherland. These great martyrs were awarded the Param Vir Chakra, the highest gallantry award in India. The author wants the citizens to realize the unspoken bravery of such heroes and never forget their sacrifice. It is because of them we can sleep in peace. During the war, they inflicted heavy losses upon the enemy and therefore changed the course of the war.

Summary

Major Som Nath Sharma

The very first recipient of the Param Vir Chakra was Major Som Nath Sharma. He was awarded this medal for his courage during the Indo-Pak war of 1947-48 in Kashmir. He died while dislodging Pakistani raiders from Srinagar Airport. Major Som Nath Sharma was born on 31 January 1923 at Dadh in Kangra in Himachal Pradesh. His father, Major General Amar Nath Sharma, was also a military officer. It was 31 Oct. 1947. Major Som Nath’s company was to be airlifted to Srinagar. At that time, Som Nath’s right hand was injured a few days back on the hockey field. But Major Som Nath insisted on being with his company during the war. Finally, he was permitted to go to Srinagar with his company.

When Major Som Nath reached Srinagar with his company, they were ordered to go to the Badgam village in the Kashmir valley. A ‘Lashkar’ of about 700 attackers had entered the village. During the fight, the enemy surrounded Som Nath’s company from three sides and started mortar bombardment. Many of his soldiers were killed in this bombardment but even then, the Major didn’t let his men lose their courage. Exposing himself to danger, he ran from post to post and urged his men to fight bravely. Despite his right hand being injured, he started filling magazines and issuing them to his soldiers.

Suddenly, a mortar shell exploded on the explosives lying near him and he was killed in that explosion. However, his last message sent to the Brigade Headquarters turned the tables against the enemy. The Indian troops, at once, flew into Srinagar and blocked all the routes to Srinagar. Thus, Major Som Nath Sharma saved Srinagar from falling into the hands of the enemy.

Lieutenant Colonel Dhan Singh Thapa 

Lieutenant Colonel Dhan Singh Thapa, PVC, was an Indian Army Major in first Battalion, 8th Gorkha Rifles Regiment. It was 20 Oct. 1962. Major Dhan Singh Thapa was posted in Ladakh at that time. The Chinese attacked the Sirijap-1 post near the Chushul airport in Ladakh where they kept shelling for about two hours and set the whole area of fire. But Major Thapa and his men also inflicted heavy losses on the enemy and thus repulsed their attack. The Chinese made another attack in great numbers. This time too, Major Thapa failed their attack. The third time the Chinese attacked with tanks. Though Major Thapa and his men were weakened by the casualties suffered in earlier attacks, they didn’t lose courage. 

They continued fighting till the ammunition was finished. When the Chinese overran the post, Major Thapa jumped out of his trench and killed many of the intruders in hand-to-hand fighting. Major Thapa was awarded the Param Vir Chakra. It was believed that Major Thapa was killed in that encounter but he was taken, prisoner. When he was released from the POW camp, he resumed his military career and retired as Lieutenant Colonel, he died in Sept. 2005.

Havildar Abdul Hamid

Havildar Abdul Hamid was a soldier in the 4th battalion of The Grenadiers of the Indian Army. He died in the Khem Karan Sector during the Indo-Pak war of 1965. He was posthumously honored with the Param Vir Chakra award for his exemplary courage and bravery displayed during the war. Abdul Hamid was born on July 1, 1933, at Dhamupur village in Ghazipur District of Uttar Pradesh. He was enrolled in The Grenadiers, an infantry regiment in 1954. In the Indo-Pak war of 1965, Abdul Hamid was posted in the Khem Karan-Bhikhiwind Sector in Punjab.

It was 10 September 1965 when Pakistani forces with a regiment of Patton tanks attacked a vital area near Khem Karan Sector. There was intense artillery shelling. The enemy tanks had penetrated the forward position in an hour only. Company Quarter Master Havildar Abdul Hamid realized the gravity of the situation. And he moved out to a flanking position with his gun mounted on a jeep. There was intense enemy shelling and tank fire. But brave Hamid didn’t care and taking an advantageous position, he knocked out the leading enemy tank.

Then quickly changing his position, he knocked out another enemy tank. Just then, the enemy tanks spotted him and started firing at him. However, an undeterred Hamid still kept on firing on another enemy tank. He was badly wounded by a high explosive shell. Abdul Hamid’s brave action inspired his comrades to beat back the heavy tank assault by the enemy. His complete disregard for his safety and his sustained acts of bravery in the face of constant enemy fire presented a marvelous example before the whole world.

Flying Officer Nirmal Jit Singh Sekhon

Flying Officer Nirmal Jit Singh Sekhon who was an officer of the Indian Air Force was born on 17 July 1943. He was posthumously awarded the Param Vir Chakra for defending Srinagar Air Base from a Pakistani air raid during the Indo-Pak war of 1971. During that war, he was assigned to the No. 18 Squadron, “The Flying Bullets’, flying the Folland Gnat fighter aircraft based at Srinagar. It was 14 December 1971. Six Pakistani Air Force F-86 Sabre jets attacked the Srinagar airfield. Sekhon was on readiness duty at that time. The enemy aircraft dropped bombs on the ground targets.

Under heavy fire, Sekhon somehow was able to take off in his Gnat and fight with the Sabres. He scored a direct hit on one Sabre and set another Sabre ablaze. After a long fight with the remaining four Sabres, Sekhon’s aircraft was hit and he was killed. The remaining Pakistani aircraft returned to Pakistan without pressing the attack.

Captain Vikram Batra 

Batra was born on 9 Sept. 1974 in Ghuggar village near Palampur in Himachal Pradesh. He was an officer of the Indian Army. He was posthumously awarded the Param Vir Chakra for his heroic deeds during the 1999 Kargil war between India and Pakistan. In 1996, he was commissioned in the Indian Army as a Lieutenant of the 13 JAK Rifles at Sopore in Jammu & Kashmir. He soon rose to the rank of Captain. In June 1999, his unit proceeded to the Kargil sector after getting the news of a warlike situation in the Kargil, Drass, and Batalik sub-sectors.

Captain Vikram along with his company was sent on the first strategic and daring operation in Kargil. He was given the task of recapturing the first peak of utmost importance Point 5140, which was at an altitude of 17000 feet. Captain Vikram who was nicknamed Sher Shah for his courage decided to lead from the rear and thus shock the enemy. He and his men ascended the sheer rock cliff. But as they reached the top, the enemy started firing at them with their heavy machine guns. Captain Batra and his men didn’t bother about the heavy firing and climbed up the cliff. After reaching the top, they hurled two grenades at the machine-gun post.

Captain Vikram alone killed three enemy soldiers in close combat. Though he was seriously injured, he insisted on continuing the mission. Inspired by his courage, his men charged the enemy position and recaptured Point 5140. The capture of Point 5140 set in motion a string of successes such as Point 5100, Point 4700, Junction Peak, Three Pimples, Point 4750, and Point 4875. On 7 July 1999, Captain Vikram Batra was killed when he tried to save an injured officer while recapturing Point 4875. His last words were Jai Mata Di’.

Conclusion

The tales of the sacrifice and courage of the Indian national army make our chests swell with pride and eyes a little moist. Thousands of martyrs have given up their lives while protecting our land. There is no bigger sacrifice known to man than to lay down one’s life in defense of the nation. The freedom of a country depends on its citizens.