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Param Vir Chakra
9 September 1974|
Palampur, Himachal Pradesh, India
|Died||7 July 1999
Pt. 4875, Kargil, Jammu & Kashmir, India
|Allegiance||Republic of India|
|Years of service||1996–1999|
|Service number||IC 57556|
|Unit||13 JAK RIF|
Battle of Tiger Hill
|Awards||Param Vir Chakra|
Captain Vikram Batra, PVC (9 September 1974 – 7 July 1999) was an officer of the Indian Army, posthumously awarded with the Param Vir Chakra, India's highest and prestigious award for valour, for his actions during the 1999 Kargil War in Kashmir between India and Pakistan. He led one of the toughest operations in mountain warfare in Indian history. He was often referred to as ‘'Sher Shah'’ ("Lion King") in the intercepted messages of the Pakistan Army.
Childhood and education
Vikram Batra was born on 9 September 1974 in Palampur, Himachal Pradesh, the son of Girdhari Lal Batra and Jai Kamal Kanta Batra. He had two sisters and one twin brother. His twin brother was named Vishal. The parents later nicknamed their newborn twins as: 'Luv' (Vikram) and 'Kush' (Vishal). He got his primary education from his mother, who herself was a teacher. He then attended the D.A.V. Public School in Palampur. He received his senior secondary education at Central School, Palampur.
At school he was a keen sportsman and excelled at Table tennis, which he played at national level. He also earned a green belt in Karate. After completing his class 12 in 1992 from Central School, he attended DAV College, Chandigarh in B.Sc. At college, he joined the NCC (air wing) while he was in the first year. He was adjudged the best cadet in the air wing of NCC in two zones. During the next two years in DAV, he remained a cadet of the Army wing of NCC. He was selected to attend a 40-day helicopter flight course at Pinjore flying club. In 1994, he took part in the Republic Day parade as an NCC cadet, and when he came home, he told his parents that he wanted to join the army. His maternal grandfather was also a soldier in the Indian Army. During the graduation course in 1995, he was selected for the merchant navy, but he ultimately opted for the Indian Army.
He also attended the Panjab University to study for a master's degree in English. During his days at the university, he prepared for the Combined Defence Services Examination and also worked part-time as a branch manager of a travelling agency in Chandigarh. "I do not want to be a burden on you, dad," he had told his father.
Early military career
Vikram Batra joined the Indian Military Academy (IMA) in 1996. In December 1997, Batra was commissioned as a a lieutenant into the Indian Army after passing out of the IMA. He was commissioned into the 13th battalion of the Jammu and Kashmir Rifles (13 JAK Rif) and his first posting with his regiment was in the town of Sopore in the Baramulla district of Jammu and Kashmir, an area with significant separatist activity. During his posting in Sopore, Batra had a miraculous escape when a terrorist's bullet grazed his shoulder and struck one of Batra's men behind him, killing the soldier. Batra knew the bullet was meant for him and was deeply upset. "Didi, it was meant for me and I lost my man," he had told his elder sister over the phone.
Batra later attended the Young Officer's Course at the Infantry School at Mhow, Madhya Pradesh, receiving 'alpha grading' for his overall performance. Following completion of the course, he attended a 35-day Commando Course at Belgaum, Karnataka, earning the Instructor grading.
Every time when he came home to Palampur on leave, he would visit the Neugal Cafe. Batra last came home on leave from the army in 1999, during the Holi festival for a few days. During that time, when he went to the Café for a coffee, he met an acquaintance who told him to be careful in the war, to which Batra replied:
After his leave, he returned to join his battalion in Sopore. On completing its counter-insurgency operations in Sopore, 13 JAK Rif received orders to proceed to Shahjahanpur, Uttar Pradesh but shortly thereafter, because of the outbreak of the war, its deployment orders were changed and Batra was ordered to report for duty in Kargil, Jammu and Kashmir on 1 June 1999.
Batra assured his parents that they need not worry about him. He would call his parents at least once in ten days. The last phone call he made was on 29 June 1999, in which he said "Mommy, ek dum fit hoon, fikar mat karna", ("I'm absolutely fine. Don't you worry.") This was the last time that Batra spoke to his mother.
|on YouTube showing a reenactment of his final battle during Kargil War, narrated by his then-commanding officer, Yogesh Kumar Joshi|
Batra's battalion, the 13 Jammu and Kashmir Rifles (13 JAK Rif), was ordered to proceed to Dras on 5 June 1999. The battalion reached Dras on 6 June, was placed under the command of 56 Mountain Brigade, and was given orders to act as reserves to the 2nd battalion of the Rajputana Rifles (2 Raj Rif) during their attack on Tololing mountain. The 18th battalion of The Grenadiers (18 Grenadiers) first attacked Tololing on 22 May, but suffered heavy casualties in their advance and were unable to capture the peak. 18 Grenadiers made four attempts to capture Tololing, but could only succeed in securing the lower slopes, while suffering heavy casualties. Eventually, 2 Raj Rif was assigned the mission of capturing Tololing. 2 Raj Rif, successfully captured the Tololing on 13 June 1999 after fierce fighting.
After the capture of Tololing, 13 JAK Rif marched from Dras to Tololing, reaching their destination in 12 hours. Upon reaching, Alpha company of 13 JAK Rif took over Tololing and a portion of the Hump Complex from 18 Grenadiers.
Capture of Point 5140
13 JAK Rif was then assigned the task of capturing Point 5140, a 15,000-foot strategically important peak in the Dras sector on 17 June 1999. At the Hump Complex, two officers, Lieutenant Vikram Batra and Lieutenant Sanjeev Singh Jamwal, received their briefing about the mission from Lieutenant Colonel Yogesh Kumar Joshi, the commanding officer of 13 JAK Rif. During the briefing, Batra chose the words "Yeh dil mange more!" ("This heart wants more!") to be the success signal for his company, whilst Jamwal chose the words "Oh! Yeah, yeah, yeah!" as his success signal for his company. The battalion conducted a detailed reconnaissance of the area for two days. A strategy to attack the feature from two flanks was then finalised. They divided into two companies: Bravo Company, under the command of Jamwal, and Delta Company, under the command of Batra.
Under the cover of artillery fire, the two assault companies began climbing Point 5140 after midnight on 20 July. The artillery at Hump Complex had already begun its preparatory bombardment of Point 5140. As planned, the artillery guns would stop firing when the troops were 200 metres short of the objective.
Once the artillery guns, including the MBRLs and 105 mm guns, had ceased firing, the Pakistani soldiers immediately came out of their bunkers and put down heavy fire with their machine guns on the advancing Indian soldiers. At that moment, both Jamwal and Batra, realising the gravity of the situation, contacted commanders at the base via radio, asking to continue artillery bombardment of the enemy positions till the companies were 100 metres from their target.
By 0315 hours, both B and D Companies had reached the vicinity of Point 5140 despite the treacherous terrain. The peak had 7 bunkers in all, 2 on the top and 5 pointing towards the east. B company reached the top of the feature first and assaulted from the left flank. By 0330 hours, B company had captured its objective, and at 0335 hours Jamwal radioed his command post, saying the words "Oh! Yeah, yeah, yeah!"
Batra decided to approach the hill from the rear, aiming to surprise the enemy, and to cut off their withdrawal route. Batra fired three rockets towards the bunkers on the east side of the feature, before attacking them. He and his men ascended the sheer rock-cliff, but as the group neared the top, the enemy pinned them on the face of the bare cliff with machine gun fire. Batra, along with five of his men, climbed up regardless and after reaching the top, hurled two grenades at the machine gun post. Batra then killed three enemy soldiers single-handedly in close combat. He was seriously injured in the process, but insisted on regrouping his men to continue with the mission. He continued to lead his troops, and then charged at the next enemy position, capturing Point 5140. In all its actions, his company killed at least eight Pakistani intruders and recovered a heavy anti-aircraft machine gun. The remaining enemy soldiers fled.
At 0435 hours, Batra radioed his command post, saying the words "Yeh dil mange more!". Considerable quantities of arms and ammunition were recovered from the feature. The captured munitions indicated that the enemy's strength was about a platoon. Neither B or D companies suffered any casualties in the battle. When the news reached brigade headquarters that Point 5140 had been captured, the brigade commander asked Joshi about the casualties, his reply was: "There was not a single casualty. Not a single soldier died in the operation." The capture of Point 5140 set in motion a string of successes, such as the captures of Point 5100, Point 4700, Junction Peak and the Three Pimple Complex.
After the capture of Point 5140, Batra was promoted to the rank of captain. General Ved Prakash Malik, the then Chief of Army Staff, called to congratulate him. All across the nation, his triumph was being played out on television screens.
Capture of Point 4875
Upon reaching Mushkoh Valley, the 13 JAK Rifles was placed under the command of 79 Mountain Brigade. The next assignment for Batra's battalion was to capture the Point 4875, a strategically important peak located in the Mushkoh Valley. Since the feature dominated the National Highway 1 completely from Dras to Matayan, it was clear that further progress would be possible only when the enemy was evicted from the Point 4875.
A stretch of 30–40 kilometres of the national highway was under direct observation of the enemy. From Point 4875, Pakistani artillery observers could see the convoys moving on the road, and bring down effective artillery fire at will.
On 1 July 1999, Major S Vijay Bhaskar, 'A' Company commander and Lt. Col. Joshi, commanding officer of the 13 JAK Rifles, conducted their initial reconnaissance, after climbing to a vantage point, and formulated an attack plan. Subsequently, on 2 July, General Officer Commanding 8 Mountain Division, Major General Mohinder Puri and Brigadier Kakkar Commander 79 Mountain Brigades and Lieutenant Colonel Y.K. Joshi, Commanding Officer 13 Jammu and Kashmir Rifles gathered at 79 Mountain Brigades headquarters, to discuss the attack plan.
The battalion was deployed to firebase, located in a defiladed area, approximately 1500 metres from the Point 4875. Over the two days, on 2 and 3 July, weapons carriers from the 13 JAK Rifles and 28 Rashtriya Rifles dumped ammunition and heavy weapons. During the day of 4 July, the company commanders of 'A' and 'C' Companies, Major S.V. Bhaskar and Major Gurpreet Singh, conducted their final reconnaissance and showed the objectives to their 'O' groups.
At 1800 hours that same day, artillery bombardment of the enemy positions on Point 4875 commenced. 155 mm Bofors Howitzers, 105 mm Field Guns, and multi barrel rocket launchers were used in the bombardment of Point 4875. Soon after, at 2030 hours in the pitch black night, under cover of artillery fire, 'A' and 'C' Companies began climbing the Point 4875. 200 metres short of the target, they came under heavy enemy fire from Point 4875 Flat Top, which halted the advance. They were in imminent danger of being 'day-lighted'. At first light the next day, these troops were still 50 metres short of the objective. At 0430 hours, the two companies deployed their automatic weapons and began to fire at strong well-fortified enemy positions at the top of the feature.
The enemy was bringing down very effective small arms fire and sniper fire, which effectively blocked the advance of the Indian troops. At around 1015 hours on 5 July, the commanding officer of 'C' company spoke to the battalion commanding officer and explained his company's predicament and the area from where the enemy was bringing in effective fire on to them. Brigadier Kakkar was personally supervising operations.
At this juncture, the battalion commanding officer, Lt Col Joshi personally fired two Fagot missiles in quick succession from the fire base and neutralized the enemy position. Brigadier Kakkar watched the firing of the missiles through his binoculars. "Bull's eye! You've got them," he said to Joshi over the wireless. Joshi got a direct hit on the bunker and the enemy soldiers were seen fleeing from the bunker. They then promptly began advancing again. Soon, Company C with two sections, led by Major Gurpreet Singh assualted the enemy position. By 1300 hours, these troops had captured Point 4875. Subsequently, both 'A' and 'C' Companies linked up. They then consolidated their hold on Point 4875, but the Indian troops continued to receive enemy artillery and machine-gun fire from Pimple 2 and area North of Point 4875.
At 2200 hours on 5 July, from a Pakistani postion north of Point 4875, the enemy brought heavy and accurate fire on the two companies. In the early hours of the following morning at 0445 hours, 'C' Company reported that they were in a heavy firefight and were running out of ammunition. Company B, the reserve company, promptly brought up the ammunition and the firefight continued.
On the night of 6–7 July, the opposing forces were so close that besides exchanges of small arms fire, verbal exchanges continued throughout the night. The Indians had detected the enemy on a long and narrow ledge, running north from Point 4875. On the ledge, the enemy were holding strong sangars echeloned one behind the other. 'D' Company was ordered to exploit and evict the Pakistani intruders from the Ledge.
Batra, though still recovering from his own wounds he received in the battle of Point 5140, volunteered to lead a party to move up and observe the area ahead of Point 4875 and to gain a foothold on the ledge. Throughout the night, Batra and his 25 men from Delta Company kept on climbing the Point 4875 under almost constant enemy machine gun fire from the top of the ridge. Their task was to reach that ridge, storm the enemy and occupy the post before daylight.
In the early morning hours of 7 July 1999, Batra commanded a mission to rescue an injured officer during a Pakistani counterattack on Point 4875. 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", which is a Punjabi creed referring to Durga, the Hindu goddess of victory.
Param Vir Chakra
Captain Vikram Batra was awarded the Param Vir Chakra, India's highest military honor on 15 August 1999, the 52nd anniversary of India's independence. His father Mr. G.L. Batra received the honor for his deceased son from the President of India, the late K. R. Narayanan.
CAPTAIN VIKRAM BATRA
During ‘Operation Vijay’, on 20 June 1999, Captain Vikram Batra, Commander Delta Company was tasked to attack Point 5140. Captain Batra with his company skirted around the feature from the East and maintaining surprise reached within assaulting distance of the enemy. Captain Batra reorganized his column and motivated his men to physically assault the enemy positions. Leading from the front, he in a daredevil assault, pounced on the enemy and killed four of them in a hand-to hand fight. On 7 July 1999, in another operation in the area Pt 4875, his company was tasked to clear a narrow feature with sharp cuttings on either side and heavily fortified enemy defences that covered the only approach to it. For speedy operation, Captain Batra assaulted the enemy position along a narrow ridge and engaged the enemy in a fierce hand –to-hand fight and killed five enemy soldiers at point blank range. Despite sustaining grave injuries, he crawled towards the enemy and hurled grenades clearing the position with utter disregard to his personal safety, leading from the front, he rallied his men and pressed on the attack and achieved a near impossible military task in the face of heavy enemy fire. The officer, however, succumbed to his injuries. Inspired by his daredevil act, his troops fell upon the enemy with vengeance, annihilated them and captured Point 4875.
Captain Vikram Batra, thus, displayed the most conspicuous personal bravery and leadership of the highest order in the face of the enemy and made the supreme sacrifice in the highest traditions of the Indian Army.
|— Indian Army, |
In popular culture
Captain Batra is also well known in India for using the slogan, Yeh Dil Maange More! as his signal to communicate mission success. He is also known for an interview in which he stated that Pakistani Soldiers were aware of him as "Sher Shah" and addressed him as such in the middle of engagements.
He is also honoured with several landmarks being named after him: The historic capture of point 4875 led to the mountain being named 'Batra top' in his honor. A hall at Service Selection Center Allahabad is named 'Vikram Batra Block', a residential area in the Jabalpur Cantonment is called 'Captain Vikram Batra Enclave' and the combined cadet's mess at the IMA is named 'Vikram Batra Mess'.
"Either I will come back after hoisting the Tricolour (Indian flag), or I will come back wrapped in it, but I will be back for sure."
"Yeh Dil Maange More! (My heart asks for more!)"
"Don't worry about us, Pray for your safety."
Batra's last words were the battle-cry "Jai Mata Di!" ("Victory to Mother Durga!" in Dogri/ Punjabi)
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