A Patriot since birth
A Martyr by death,
My love will be for my country first
Will remain so until I return again to dust!
These were the lines of Col. Veer Pratap Chand. He used to recite these before his family and friends, depicting his love for his country, India. His love for his country was profound. It was there in his blood, in his family. So can we call it hereditary? Yes! A part of the upbringing, it was. His grandfather was a Lieutenant in the Indian army, his father too stepped into his grandpa’s shoes by joining in the Junior Cadre as a Sepoy first, and later rose to the position of a General of the Indian army.
The hero of our story, Col. Veer Pratap Chand, was fondly known as Veeru in his childhood days. He was a very bright child since birth and was brought up in a very strict conservative family, the family of Army men. As the saying goes, army men mostly have that rigid look; they seem very strict in appearance, fit in stature and very punctual in time. So was Veer’s dad too. He would not tolerate any indiscipline in Veeru’s behaviour. But Veeru could manage to escape his father’s scolding and win his heart by his noble deeds!
Veeru was a very different kind of child. As a young boy, when his peers were interested in playing cricket and other outdoor games, Veeru would be seen spending time in the library with fat books on Indian history, learning and knowing more about the history of our country, about the freedom fighters who had fought for our country and others. He loved patriotic songs, more than any film songs. His friends would laugh at him, mock at him for his weird choices, but he would not mind! His dream was to join the Indian Army someday and spend his entire life to serve for his country.
Veeru’s dream was not a distant dream though. He was to finish his Matriculation in the coming year and though he was only average in studies, he was sure that he would anyhow score more than 45% marks, which was the eligibility criteria for joining the Indian army. He did come out with flying colors by scoring First class marks in his SSC. He had already expressed his willingness to his father, to step into his shoes post Matriculation and the father was more than happy to help him pursue his dream. His mom though was a bit hesitant with her son’s decision, as like any other mother, she did not want her son to be on the battlefield risking his life. But she was left with no choice, as she always had that intuition that her son would join the Army one day.
The application form was filled and there came the D-day when Veeru stepped out of his house taking the blessings of his parents to join the Indian Army. Life there was not so easy for Veeru, as they used to undergo rigorous 360 degree training exercises. Their day used to start at 4 am and the moment they entered the gate, everything had to work as per schedule. “Fight it out” used to be the aim behind their obstacles training course and focus was on team work, the motive being to drill in the realization that even if one team member falls behind, the entire team can come crashing down. But for Veeru, surpassing these obstacles was never an effort, as it was his passion that drove him in attaining his goals.
He had not forgotten his vision and succeeded in becoming an able Indian Army soldier. He knew he was risking his life; his love towards his country always dragged him towards his mission. He had a loving family back home but he had seen the sacrifices made by his father and grandfather. So he was ready to face the challenges bravely. The words that he had told his mom at the time of leaving his house still echoed in her ears. “I will either come back after raising the Indian flag in victory or return wrapped in it.” This was a very powerful statement made by a son to his mother who only prayed for his victory.
Now back on the battlefield, Veeru along with other jawans were posted at the border. It was way past midnight when their team heard some gunfire. They were positioned at the snow clad area then. He and his team immediately sprang into action when suddenly the enemy started firing rockets and machine guns mercilessly, killing two commanders from Veeru’s camp. The fire continued. The soldiers put up a brave fight. Veeru was hit on his shoulder with multiple bullets, but he continued nonetheless. With a broken leg, a shattered arm and almost 15 bullet wounds, Veeru was taken to the hospital. It was assumed that he may become a martyr, as his treatment began.
Param Vir Chakra was announced by the Indian Government for his invincible spirit, determination and action beyond the call of the duty, posthumously, but it was found that he was miraculously recovering in the hospital. The soldier had not yet given up! This 19-year-old was awarded the P.V.C. by the then President of India. It was indeed a proud moment for Veeru who had abided by his words and pursued his dream. Amidst the slogan of JAI HIND, he received the prestigious well-deserved award.
Though Veeru proved lucky in his war, not every soldier in the border who guards the frontiers are lucky enough to come back alive. Such is the dedication of Indian army who ask us to sleep peacefully, while they are there fighting at the border guarding our lives. Someone has rightly quoted, “Our flag does not fly because the wind moves it, but it flies with the last breath of each soldier who died protecting it.” A big salute to the Indian Army. JAI HIND.