Captain Vikram Batra: The Shershah of Kargil War

Have you ever wondered if some people are born with a destiny to become heroes? Those rare individuals who possess all the qualities that could bring them success and fortune, yet choose to sacrifice everything for the greater good? Throughout our nation's history, there have been extraordinary men and women who were born with a purpose to achieve greatness. And Captain Vikram Batra was one such man - a true gem among a billion! He was awarded India’s highest and most prestigious award for his bravery act in the Kargil war known as ‘Param Vir Chakra’.

Unlike most young men who are busy chasing their dreams and aspirations, Captain Batra, at the mere age of 24, set a remarkable example for the entire youth of India. He displayed unparalleled courage, exceptional leadership skills, and selfless sacrifice for his nation during the Kargil War of 1999.

Captain Vikram Batra, also known as the “Shershah of Kargil,” was born on September 9, 1974, in Palampur, Himachal Pradesh, to Girdhari Lal Batra (Father) and Kamal Kanta Batra (Mother). His father was a government school principal, while his mother was a school teacher.

Captain Vikram Batra completed his schooling at DAV Public School in Palampur and later attended Central School for his senior secondary education. In 1990, he and his brother represented the school in Table Tennis at All India KVS Nationals.

Captain Vikram Batra was not only an exceptional student but also a green belt in Karate. He attended the national-level camp for the sport in Manali, exhibiting his exceptional talent and dedication.He was qualified for a certificate in NCC and achieved the rank of Senior Under Officer. In 1994, he was selected as an NCC cadet for the Republic Day parade. His parents were not surprised when he told them that he was preparing for the CDS (Combined Defence Services) examination and aspired to become an officer in the Indian Army. In 1995, he was offered a position in the merchant navy at a shipping company in Hong Kong, but he decided to change his mind. Instead, he enrolled in Punjab University to pursue an MA in English course, so that he could have more time to prepare for the UPSC CDS examination. In 1996, he was selected as one of the top 35 candidates for the UPSC CDS exam. After completing his MA, he left the University and joined the Indian Military Academy as a Gentleman Cadet. This was a righteous path for him to serve his nation and achieve his ultimate dream.

Military Career of Vikram Batra

Early Life and Training

Vikram Batra joined the Indian Military Academy at Dehradun in June 1996, where he was part of the Menekshaw Battalion. After completing his graduation from IMA, he was commissioned as a lieutenant in the 13th Battalion, Jammu & Kashmir Rifles and sent to a regimental center in Jabalpur for further training. 

Infantry School Training

In mid-March 1998, Vikram joined the Infantry School at Mhow, Madhya Pradesh for a young officer's post. This training lasted for five months till September 1998, after which he was awarded the Alpha grading and joined the battalion back in October 1998.

Commands Course at Belgaum

In January 1999, he was sent for a Commands Course at Belgaum, Karnataka, where he excelled and was awarded the highest grading- the Instructor’s grade. Soon after a few days, he went to his village Palampur to celebrate the Holi festival with his family.

The Braveheart of Kargil War

The Jammu and Kashmir Rifles has a unique and interesting history. It was raised in 1821 by Gulab Singh, an Indian ruler who was one of the most capable generals of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and later became the ruler of the Jammu and Kashmir state. During World War I and II, it fought as Imperial Service troops and contributed significantly to the 1947-48 war. Later, it was absorbed into the Indian Army as a separate regiment and re-designated as Jammu and Kashmir Rifles in 1963. During the Kargil conflict in 1999, the Jammu and Kashmir Rifles created a record of bravery and sacrifice.

Kargil War Breaks Out

A historic war in Kargil broke out in May 1999, and Vikram Batra was at a cafe with his friend when he was asked to resume his duty and come back to the post. He replied courageously, 

“I’ll either come back after raising the Indian flag in victory or return wrapped in it, but I will come for sure.” – Captain Vikram Batra

The Kargil war in 1999 began when the Pakistan army occupied the vacated posts of the Indian Army, after signing the Lahore declaration. General Pervez Musharraf, then Chief of the Pakistan Army, is believed to have planned this operation. On 3 May 1999, intrusions were detected, and on 26 May, the Indian Airforce (IAF) launched the first air-to-ground strike, followed by Operation Vijay by the Indian Army to evict the intruders. After two months of fierce fighting, the war ended on 26 July 1999.

Deployment in Kargil

Soon after he received the order to move to Kargil, he joined duty on June 1, 1999, after completing his counter-insurgency tenure in Kashmir under 192 Mountains Brigade of 8 Mountain Division, received an order to proceed to Shahjanpur, UP. His post was changed to Dras, so with his battalion 13 JAK RIF, he reached Dras on 6 June as a reserve to 2nd Battalion, attacking Tololing Mountain and succeeded in capturing Tololing and thereafter it took them from Dras to Tololing, at an altitude of 16,962 feet above sea level.

Capture of Point 5140

On 17 June, they were assigned to capture point 5140 under Lt. Col. Yogesh Kumar Joshi. After a lot of bombardment, the battalion succeeded in capturing point 5140.After the success at Point 5140, Captain Batra delivered his iconic success signal “Yeh Dil Mange More.” Despite the severe injury, Vikram led his mission. On 26 June, 13JAK RIF was ordered to move to Ghumri to rest, refit, and recoup. The battalion then moved to the Mushkon valley on 30 June.

Capture of Point 4875

On the 7th of July 1999, after capturing Point 5140, Captain Batra and his company 13 JAK RIF were given the task of capturing Point 4875. The objective was to clear enemy defences from a narrow feature that had sharp cuttings on both sides, leading up to Point 4875 and Area Ledge. Captain Batra led the assault from the front and personally engaged the enemy in a physical fight. He killed five enemy soldiers at point-blank range and suffered serious injuries himself. Despite his injuries, he continued his advance towards the next enemy sangar and threw grenades to clear the enemy position. His determination and bravery inspired his men to clear the enemy from a dominating position. Unfortunately, he succumbed to his injuries. His fearless determination inspired his men to avenge his death and finally capture Point 4875. His last words, "Jai Mata Di," continue to echo through the ages, a testament to his unwavering love for his country and his fellow soldiers.

Captain Vikram Batra - A True Hero

Captain Vikram Batra's bravery and sacrifice were recognized, and he was posthumously awarded the Param Vir Chakra, India's highest military honor. He was the first Indian Army officer to receive this honor during the Kargil War.  He gave his life for the country, but his bravery and sacrifice continue to inspire generations of Indians. Captain Vikram Batra will always be remembered as a true hero who lived and died for his country.

Movies Based on Captain Vikram Batra's Life

The world of Bollywood has paid tribute to Captain Vikram Batra's life and achievements by making movies based on his life. 
  • In 2013, a movie called LOC Kargil was released, which depicted the entire Kargil conflict. Abhishek Bachchan played Captain Vikram Batra's role in the movie. 
  • Another movie named Shershaah, directed by Vishnu Vardhan, is set to release on Amazon Prime Video on 12 August 2021. This movie is based on the life of Captain Vikram Batra and his heroic acts during the Kargil War.

Memorials Honouring Captain Vikram Batra

  1. Captain Vikram Batra's bravery and sacrifice have been recognized in many ways. 
  2. The mountain where he captured Point 4875 has been named Batra Top in his honour.
  3. A residential area in the Jabalpur Cantonment is called 'Captain Vikram Batra Enclave'.
  4. A hall at the Service Selection Centre Allahabad is named 'Vikram Batra Block', and the combined cadet's mess at the Indian Military Academy (IMA) is named 'Vikram Batra Mess'. 
  5. A memorial for war veterans, including Captain Vikram Batra, stands at DAV College in Chandigarh. 
  6. In December 2019, New Delhi's Mukarba Chowk and its flyover were renamed as Shaheed Captain Vikram Batra Chowk to honour his sacrifice.

Captain Vikram Batra's inspiring leadership, dedication to duty, and selfless sacrifice continue to be an inspiration to the young generation. He epitomized the very best of the Jammu and Kashmir Rifles, a regiment that has a proud history of serving India with distinction and honor.

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