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Courage Through Thriving Maggots And Decaying Flesh

About ColNarinder Singh Malhan

Colonel Narinder Singh Malhan was commissioned from Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehradun. On having served for almost four decades in Indian Army, he loves to share his experiences through his writings. In his opinion, every life has a lot to unfold. Each life is unique and is an historical document with its own identity. He strongly feels, real discovery is through introspection by looking back in own time. He believes, sharing own experiences are like revisiting life's milestones with more intensity. He thoroughly enjoyed his journey in uniform.

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Prologue :

This is the story of a brave soldier. It is a story of a brave heart, who exploited his vulnerabilities to the most, and to his advantage. It is about his spirit, through which he found a way to be reborn, through instincts to probe ways to survive.

Let us connect with canvas of general area, that will make easy to understand the template of courage displayed by Naik Shatrugan Singh, Vir Chakra from 1 Bihar. The area of operation is in proximity to a place where Brokpa tribe lives. This tribe is known to be directly descended from the soldiers of Alexander – the Great. Their four villages, Dah, Hanu, Garkon and Darchak around general area Batalik town in Ladakh and upper reaches of the Indus River are in prominence for this reason. They are also considered as pure Aryans. These villages are also known Brokpa villages.

Part 1

Batalik town, 56 km from Kargil, has remained at centre stage throughout because of its strategic location between Kargil, Leh and Baltstan. In 1999 it came into limelight once again, when Pakistani forces intruded into Indian Territory and occupied India’s winter vacated posts. Recapture of those posts by brave Indian soldiers during Kargil war brought bravery and valor of Indian soldiers once again on forefront. Bravery of courageous soldier, Shatrugan Singh, Vir Chakra of 1 Bihar, who participated in Batalik sector during Kargil war, stands tall among the best. He created a new template of heroism and guts, by being able to confront a frightening situation with his strong nerves.

It was for sure, Naik Shatrughan Singh, Vir Chakra, could do it, because for him, to survive was to find some meaning in the suffering. The NCO (Non Commissioned Officer) formed part of the assault group for capture of Point 4268 in Batalik Sub Sector of J&K on 29 May 1999. During the assault, the NCO was in forefront and continued fighting despite heavy enemy firing and shelling. In the process, he sustained bullet injuries in his right leg and was immobilized. He shot dead two foreign mercenaries. He sustained himself without food and inadequate water for eleven days. All alone, he crawled from cover to cover for three kilometers and reached the firm base safely with his personal weapon, ammunition of Light Machine Gun and the documents recovered from a Pakistan Soldier, Sep Abdula Ayub, whom he had shot dead. For his daring act of bravery in the face of enemy and devotion to duty, he was awarded ‘Vir Chakra’.

His survival was at stake and that made him erupt with struggle to survive. His journey of eleven days was to stay struck in a crack in the ground underneath a giant boulder, struggling to move with no hope of rescue. Yes, serious odds were against him. It was that blue and lonely section of hell which he charted in those eleven days. He himself was trying to distinguish between the person he was and the person he had become. There were no maps for that change. No doubt, he was on a mission to prove that survival was a talent which ran through his will. Yes, he was seeing that measure of madness in him, making him to move in strange and inexplicable ways, it was his ability to adept, which was on forefront to survive. Death was staring into the face, making him feel brave and invincible; it was a question of who would blink first. Yes, survival was on the edge. He knew well that it was not the strongest or the most intelligent who would survive, but those who could best manage and adept.

His right leg’s rotting flesh and tissue debris gave right environment for maggots to thrive and retract – a very dangerous situation, because that burrow had live tissues to feed on. One sniper shot had also hit him on his back. That further added to his immobilization. Notwithstanding that, his presence of mind and spirit enabled him to face difficultly and danger with courage. Bad weather conditions on subsequent days enabled him to execute a plan, by which, he could crawl towards his company location with better safety. With his decision to carry two weapons with him, when he himself was struggling to crawl an inch, he empowered himself more than the crisis through overwhelming will power. Shot in a leg held all possibilities of death because of bleeding out and infection. His bullet shot was with a very hot pain, as if he was on fire. He could feel, similar to that of flushed face or blisters burning pain. Area around his shots was having achy pain that was more like being hit hard with a bat. Bullet shots had rippled through his blood vessels, a potential danger to life, and with a large possibility of amputation of the limb. He knew it was not the time to despair, a typical animal spirit. It was all about being busy to survive. He was sure; nothing stays same for long, not even pain. He was ready to lose in order to recover. For him, happiness was no longer the point, it was all about a decision, whether he pulled knife to bleed himself to death, or keep it tight to safety to continue in his struggle to survive.

Part 2

A stream of water en route, before he could reach his own location, provided him another opportunity to come out with the real soldier in him. He could locate three Pakistan soldiers, next to that water steam, aiming to fetch water from there. Knowingly fully well that he had lost strength in his hands and speech, however, temporarily, he decided to aim and shoot those Pakistani soldiers. He could kill two of them. He was creating a historical story, while he was on a spree to gather courage to live, rather than to kill self. Yes, he had not stopped dreaming, which he had decided to grab and never letting it go. As he was not able to carry weapons of killed Pakistani soldiers, he decided to hide them by covering with sand and stones in location, so as to be collected afterwards. He could do it, because for him, his state of mind was driven by a cause that made the struggle worth it. Yes, he was being forced to bring that hidden strength forward. He was there to prove that in times of tragedy or war, people do amazing things, now it was his turn. It was his wilful choice to fight regardless of the serious limitations. He had made a decision to survive, because he wanted to see his family again. He created a pattern and template of valor.

He was very close to Delta company location. His beard was overgrown and wild; he was physically weak and unable to speak. He was spotted by his unit soldiers. However, it took some time, before he could be recognized, identified and taken to safety.

His journey of eleven days, full of pain and turmoil, got extended even to his family. Because of this long absence, he was declared missing and dead. This news was broken to his wife and children by Brig DK Mohan, Commandant Bihar Regimental Centre, at Danapur. Later, he being found alive, the centre commandant revisited his family once again, surely to break joyful news that the brave heart had survived the crisis through his guts and courage. It was a moment of celebration for the family, but not without tears of happiness and rejoices. It was a God sent opportunity for the wife to hug her loving husband; for a mother, it was an opportunity to shed tears of motherly love; for children it was the moment to receive blessings from their loving father. It was reunion with different destiny.

For this soldier, journey of his courage was not yet over. He was to traverse some more milestones, before he could walk and move around fit. It took almost one year before he, finally, could come out of military hospital. This journey was long and boring. Stay was inevitably lengthy. While being there, he could feel like a whole lot of waiting around in hospitals. It was tedious and felt time passed very slowly, with a possibility of pushing him to loneliness. He traversed the journey of boredom trapped in a hospital bed for months together, which easily could have morphed him into depression. He was fighting his own anxieties and distractions in that alien environment, however, as a true soldier on belly of guts.

Yes, he was a battle hardened soldier now. He had seen his colleagues dying in his arms. He had seen life and death on sharp edge, in pursuit of survival during that journey of eleven days. What went through his mind when he was about to die, added to those array of traits to make him combat proven. Yes, “battle hardened” form the backbone of every combat unit. He was from that rare community. He had acquired survival instincts. He could smell where a shell would hit or where enemy could attack. He had overcome panic. He knew that good men are going to die in battle, and many things would be completely beyond control in combat. Role of a soldier stood redefined to him through his journey of transformation. Lucky is 1 Bihar, the unit has in him as SM of the unit, a combat proven and battle hardened soldier.

My emotional connection with 1 Bihar brings a bundle of subjective feelings in me through this connect. This is the unit, in which, my father was commissioned as an officer. These are the signatures that bond me to this unit of gallant soldiers. My fond memories, which I have always carried from my childhood, have always stayed fresh in my mind. This makes me feel very proud to mention this bond of association, which will remain forever.

This is the story of a brave soldier. It is a story of a brave heart, who exploited his vulnerabilities to the most, and to his advantage. It is about his spirit, through which he found a way to be reborn, through instincts to probe ways to survive.

Let us connect with canvas of general area, that will make easy to understand the template of courage displayed by Naik Shatrugan Singh, Vir Chakra from 1 Bihar. The area of operation is in proximity to a place where Brokpa tribe lives. This tribe is known to be directly descended from the soldiers of Alexander – the Great. Their four villages, Dah, Hanu, Garkon and Darchak around general area Batalik town in Ladakh and upper reaches of the Indus River are in prominence for this reason. They are also considered as pure Aryans. These villages are also known Brokpa villages.

Batalik town, 56 km from Kargil, has remained at centre stage throughout because of its strategic location between Kargil, Leh and Baltstan. In 1999 it came into limelight once again, when Pakistani forces intruded into Indian Territory and occupied India’s winter vacated posts. Recapture of those posts by brave Indian soldiers during Kargil war brought bravery and valor of Indian soldiers once again on forefront. Bravery of courageous soldier, Shatrugan Singh, Vir Chakra of 1 Bihar, who participated in Batalik sector during Kargil war, stands tall among the best. He created a new template of heroism and guts, by being able to confront a frightening situation with his strong nerves.

It was for sure, Naik Shatrughan Singh, Vir Chakra, could do it, because for him, to survive was to find some meaning in the suffering. The NCO (Non Commissioned Officer) formed part of the assault group for capture of Point 4268 in Batalik Sub Sector of J&K on 29 May 1999. During the assault, the NCO was in forefront and continued fighting despite heavy enemy firing and shelling. In the process, he sustained bullet injuries in his right leg and was immobilized. He shot dead two foreign mercenaries. He sustained himself without food and inadequate water for eleven days. All alone, he crawled from cover to cover for three kilometers and reached the firm base safely with his personal weapon, ammunition of Light Machine Gun and the documents recovered from a Pakistan Soldier, Sep Abdula Ayub, whom he had shot dead. For his daring act of bravery in the face of enemy and devotion to duty, he was awarded ‘Vir Chakra’.

His survival was at stake and that made him erupt with struggle to survive. His journey of eleven days was to stay struck in a crack in the ground underneath a giant boulder, struggling to move with no hope of rescue. Yes, serious odds were against him. It was that blue and lonely section of hell which he charted in those eleven days. He himself was trying to distinguish between the person he was and the person he had become. There were no maps for that change. No doubt, he was on a mission to prove that survival was a talent which ran through his will. Yes, he was seeing that measure of madness in him, making him to move in strange and inexplicable ways, it was his ability to adept, which was on forefront to survive. Death was staring into the face, making him feel brave and invincible; it was a question of who would blink first. Yes, survival was on the edge. He knew well that it was not the strongest or the most intelligent who would survive, but those who could best manage and adept.

His right leg’s rotting flesh and tissue debris gave right environment for maggots to thrive and retract – a very dangerous situation, because that burrow had live tissues to feed on. One sniper shot had also hit him on his back. That further added to his immobilization. Notwithstanding that, his presence of mind and spirit enabled him to face difficultly and danger with courage. Bad weather conditions on subsequent days enabled him to execute a plan, by which, he could crawl towards his company location with better safety. With his decision to carry two weapons with him, when he himself was struggling to crawl an inch, he empowered himself more than the crisis through overwhelming will power. Shot in a leg held all possibilities of death because of bleeding out and infection. His bullet shot was with a very hot pain, as if he was on fire. He could feel, similar to that of flushed face or blisters burning pain. Area around his shots was having achy pain that was more like being hit hard with a bat. Bullet shots had rippled through his blood vessels, a potential danger to life, and with a large possibility of amputation of the limb. He knew it was not the time to despair, a typical animal spirit. It was all about being busy to survive. He was sure; nothing stays same for long, not even pain. He was ready to lose in order to recover. For him, happiness was no longer the point, it was all about a decision, whether he pulled knife to bleed himself to death, or keep it tight to safety to continue in his struggle to survive.

To Be Continued in Part 2…

A stream of water en route, before he could reach his own location, provided him another opportunity to come out with the real soldier in him. He could locate three Pakistan soldiers, next to that water steam, aiming to fetch water from there. Knowingly fully well that he had lost strength in his hands and speech, however, temporarily, he decided to aim and shoot those Pakistani soldiers. He could kill two of them. He was creating a historical story, while he was on a spree to gather courage to live, rather than to kill self. Yes, he had not stopped dreaming, which he had decided to grab and never letting it go. As he was not able to carry weapons of killed Pakistani soldiers, he decided to hide them by covering with sand and stones in location, so as to be collected afterwards. He could do it, because for him, his state of mind was driven by a cause that made the struggle worth it. Yes, he was being forced to bring that hidden strength forward. He was there to prove that in times of tragedy or war, people do amazing things, now it was his turn. It was his wilful choice to fight regardless of the serious limitations. He had made a decision to survive, because he wanted to see his family again. He created a pattern and template of valor.

He was very close to Delta company location. His beard was overgrown and wild; he was physically weak and unable to speak. He was spotted by his unit soldiers. However, it took some time, before he could be recognized, identified and taken to safety.

His journey of eleven days, full of pain and turmoil, got extended even to his family. Because of this long absence, he was declared missing and dead. This news was broken to his wife and children by Brig DK Mohan, Commandant Bihar Regimental Centre, at Danapur. Later, he being found alive, the centre commandant revisited his family once again, surely to break joyful news that the brave heart had survived the crisis through his guts and courage. It was a moment of celebration for the family, but not without tears of happiness and rejoices. It was a God sent opportunity for the wife to hug her loving husband; for a mother, it was an opportunity to shed tears of motherly love; for children it was the moment to receive blessings from their loving father. It was reunion with different destiny.

For this soldier, journey of his courage was not yet over. He was to traverse some more milestones, before he could walk and move around fit. It took almost one year before he, finally, could come out of military hospital. This journey was long and boring. Stay was inevitably lengthy. While being there, he could feel like a whole lot of waiting around in hospitals. It was tedious and felt time passed very slowly, with a possibility of pushing him to loneliness. He traversed the journey of boredom trapped in a hospital bed for months together, which easily could have morphed him into depression. He was fighting his own anxieties and distractions in that alien environment, however, as a true soldier on belly of guts.

Yes, he was a battle hardened soldier now. He had seen his colleagues dying in his arms. He had seen life and death on sharp edge, in pursuit of survival during that journey of eleven days. What went through his mind when he was about to die, added to those array of traits to make him combat proven. Yes, “battle hardened” form the backbone of every combat unit. He was from that rare community. He had acquired survival instincts. He could smell where a shell would hit or where enemy could attack. He had overcome panic. He knew that good men are going to die in battle, and many things would be completely beyond control in combat. Role of a soldier stood redefined to him through his journey of transformation. Lucky is 1 Bihar, the unit has in him as SM of the unit, a combat proven and battle hardened soldier.

My emotional connection with 1 Bihar brings a bundle of subjective feelings in me through this connect. This is the unit, in which, my father was commissioned as an officer. These are the signatures that bond me to this unit of gallant soldiers. My fond memories, which I have always carried from my childhood, have always stayed fresh in my mind. This makes me feel very proud to mention this bond of association, which will remain forever.

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10 Response Comments

  • Swetha Amit02/05/2019 at 10:55 AM

    Brilliant narration. Had goosebumps while reading this. A story that depicts courage and valor along with immense patriotism.

    • ColNarinder Singh Malhan08/05/2019 at 7:14 PM

      Thanks for appreciation

  • Nidhi Jangid02/05/2019 at 11:26 AM

    Very well written story! Salute to our Indian army for whom nation is the foremost priority! Their patriotism is just indescribable ! ✌

    • ColNarinder Singh Malhan08/05/2019 at 7:16 PM

      Your appreciation motivates to write more and more, thanks.

  • Kheya Baidya02/05/2019 at 2:30 PM

    Patriotism at its best. Proud to have such army men as sons of India.

    • ColNarinder Singh Malhan08/05/2019 at 7:17 PM

      Thanks a lot

  • Bishakham08/05/2019 at 12:34 PM

    What a brilliant narrative. Got goosebumps while reading the tale of bravery and valour. Infact its something more than bravery. Salute to the bravehart Naik Shatrugan Singh.

    • ColNarinder Singh Malhan08/05/2019 at 7:18 PM

      Thanks a lot for liking the story

  • NANDANA DASGUPTA13/05/2019 at 12:03 AM

    Col. Malhan your stories each time gives the readers goosebumps! you open our eyes & show us what our army has to go through to protect us! We should feel grateful to them, for striving relentlessly so that we have a safe life. Thank you sir for giving us some glimpses of the bravery of our Army.

    • ColNarinder Singh Malhan13/05/2019 at 9:12 AM

      Thanks Nandana, great hearing from you and appreciating my modest efforts, beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, that is you.

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