Generally whenever we describe a gallant and brave officer of our armed forces we describe their operations, the stories of their braveries but many a times we miss the other stories of these lives. This is the time to recall such a story to describe the loving and caring character of a soldier who gave supreme sacrifice at the age of 22 years during the Kargil war, 1999.
During the first half of 1999 the 2nd Rajputana Rifles was deployed in Kupwara. Lt Vijayant Thapar was commissioned to the unit after passing out from the academy and was engaged in various counter insurgency operation. There he met Ruksana, a little girl of 6yr old. Rukhsana had lost her speech when her father Mohammed Akbar, a woodcutter, was shot dead by militants in front of her eyes in her village in Kupwara district of J&K. The 22-year old officer met her through the principal of the school and grew fond of the child. Ruksana lost her speech when her father was brutally murdered by militants in front of her eyes in her village in Kupwara district of Jammu and Kashmir. She got back her lost speech because of all the love she received from the Kargil martyr Captain Vijyant Thapar. Capt. Thapar and his “sahayak” Sepoy Jagmal Singh Shekhawat, who also died next to his “saheb” in the battle to capture the “Knoll” feature in Drass sub-sector, used to escape from the unit and visit Ruksana each evening and take sweets and toffees for her, soldiers in the battalion say.
Their love developed into trust and Capt. Thapar’s persistent efforts paid off when Ruksana started speaking again. He used to contribute a small amount of money each month to the girl’s poor family towards her education.
Ruksana, now a student of high school in a school in Kupwara district of North Kashmir, fondly remembers this “messiah”, who was awarded the Vir Chakra after the Kargil conflict, as a “tall man with whom she played on the school premises and who gave her handful of chocolates”.
While braving the Pakistan army intruders at the icy heights of Knoll and Three-Pimples of Drass sub-sector in Kargil, the 22-year-old Captain Thapar had a virtual premonition about the ultimate fate and had penned down his last letter to his family members asking them to continue sending Rs 50 to a girl in Kupwara.
Captain Thapar in his last letter had written, “By the time you get this letter I will be observing you all from the sky enjoying the hospitality of apsaras (angels)…donate some money to orphanage and keep giving Rs 50 to Ruksana per month.”
Col (Retd) V N Thapar, father of Capt Vijayant Thapar once told in an interview that “…my son came across Ruksana in Kupwara district where he had gone to accomplish a mission. We came to know about her when he asked us to send some girl clothes to him. We were surprised with the mention of a girl…but then we got to know she was a little kid,”
It was a long wait for Thapars before they met Ruksana on 2009. “We met her (Ruksana) for the first time in 10 years, just two months ago. She is a very pretty girl and studying at a government school. She can read, write and speak English, Kashmiri and Urdu language,” he said.
For the old parents, who had lost their son at the age of 22, they could see Vijayant living in Ruksana’s eyes, heart and mind.
“Her father was killed by unknown assailants and after the incident she developed withdrawal symptoms and always kept mum. She would not mingle with anyone…but now she is quite chirpy,” he recalled.
Capt Robin will surely be remembered by his nation for his unparallel bravery and courage he displayed in the battle field of Kargil. But we should also remember him as a person whose love and care brought life to the little girl. So many people often discuss about the brutality of Indian Army, makes movie on how selfish our soldiers are but how many of them know about such stories like that of Captain Vijayant Thapar? They never know or even try to know such stories of love, care and passion that our soldiers shower on others. Captain Vijayant Thapar showed through his life, bravery, love and compassion, what are the values of Indian Army – the finest military force of the world.