Bishnu Shrestha

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The Sena Medal, awarded by the Indian Government "for such individual acts of exceptional devotion to duty or courage as have special significance for the Army."

Bishnu Shrestha (Nepali: बिष्णु श्रेष्ठ born 1975 in Parbat District, Nepal) is a retired Nepalese Gurkha soldier in the Indian army and recipient of the Sena Medal for bravery,[1][2] and the Uttam Jeevan Raksha Padak medal,[3][4] both awarded for his gallant conduct during an armed train robbery.

Early life[edit]

Shrestha was born in Bachchha Deurali Khola, ward no. 9 of Parbat District in the western part of Nepal. This area is a remote but legendary and fertile land of Gurkhas where 80 percent of the residents are Gurung people, who dominate British and Indian Gurkha Regiments. He and his family moved to Pokhara after being recruited to an Indian Gurkha regiment.

Train robbery incident[edit]

On September 2, 2010, the then 35-year-old Bishnu Shrestha after retiring from his Gurkha soldier military service was on his way to Gorakhpur and was travelling in Maurya Express (Hatia-Gorakhpur), when 15 to 40[5][6] armed robbers attacked the train near Chittaranjan, West Bengal and robbed the passengers of their valuables (money, jewellery, cellular phones and laptops).

When the bandits reached Shrestha, he was ready to give up his valuables, but then the 18 year old girl sitting next to him was grabbed by the robbers, who wanted to rape her. The girl, who knew Shrestha was a retired soldier, appealed to him for help. So he pulled out the large, curved khukuri knife that all Gurkha soldiers (and many Gurkha civilians) carry, and went after the bandits.

In the narrow aisle of the train, a trained fighter like Shrestha had the advantage. Although some of the bandits had pistols, they were either fake, or mishandled by the frightened robbers. After about ten minutes of fighting in the train aisles, three bandits were dead and many were wounded, and the rest of them decided to drop their loot (200 cell phones, 40 laptops, lots of jewelry, and nearly $10,000 in cash) and flee. The train resumed its journey promptly, in case the bandits came back, and to get medical aid for the eight bandits who had been injured by Shrestha.

Shrestha suffered a severe injury to his left arm and required two months of medical treatment to recover his injured hand.

Aftermath[edit]

Shrestha was pleased by the appreciation he received and thanked the media for covering the news.

“The Indian media brought the incident to light and the Nepali media too gave it due importance. I may have even been sent to jail on the charge of robbery had the girl and the Indian media not come forward to my support," Shrestha said. "I was hardly recognized even in Baidam [his neighborhood]. Now the whole country knows me."[7]

When the intended rape victim's family offered him a large cash reward, he refused it with the following comment: "Fighting the enemy in battle is my duty as a soldier. Taking on the thugs on the train was my duty as a human being."[6]

References[edit]