A soldier dies only when his country forgets him, his supreme sacrifices. Our motherland is a land of Kshatriyas – brave warriors. There are many bravehearts who gave their lives for us and our country. But no one knows about them, their stories, their bravery. This blog sings the amazing songs of those unsung heroes of ours. Come, know them and join us in singing their eternal song!
Have you ever thought how it would be to meet a friend, philosopher, guide, brother, colleague whom you had lost more than 17 years back.
13 Bn the Jammu & Kashmir Rifles was tasked to capture point 4875 during Kargil war. It was decided that the attack would be launched on 04 July 1999. Before launching the attack Capt Vikram Batra during the customary hug had said to me “galle lagho yaar, na jaane koinse mulaakat akhare hogi” (give a tight hug, you never know which will be the last hug).
Little did I realize the consequence of those words then, as I was entering the danger zone, while Capt Vikram Batra was being given the well deserved break after his successful attack on point 5140.
On 04 July 1999, we launched the attack on point 4875 and I was leading the attack. There have been numerous occasions when I cheated death while the enemy bullets very narrowly missed hitting me. Till the mid-day of 06 July 1999, my company had gained considerable ground by eliminating many enemies. That is when Capt Vikram Batra joined me on point 4875.
By midnight of 06 July 1999, we had captured all the bunkers occupied by the enemy less the last one for which the only way to capture was frontal attack. On 07 July 1999, early in the morning enemy lobbed a grenade into my bunker, which badly damaged both my leg. The enemy was trying to launch counter attack.
That is the time Capt Vikram Batra came rushing to the bunker in which I was injured. He asked me to go down and get my legs treated. Since I had promised my company that I will hoist the tricolor on point 4875, I was reluctant to come down. But seeing the state of my leg and too much of blood loss with my life being in danger, Capt Vikram Batra ordered me to go down. I being his junior had to obey his order.
I was crawling down, unable to walk, both legs being severely injured. Capt Vikram Batra punched his fist to mine and took over the charge of attack on point 4875. Knowing the brave nature of Capt Vikram Batra and the only possible attack to capture point 4875 was frontal and suicidal, it was as if written all over the skies that something historical is about to happen.
On being told Capt Vikram Batra won point 4875 for his team, his paltan the defense forces and for the entire nation by making the supreme sacrifice, I always wished that I could stop the time when our fists met each others, till eternity so that he would be amongst us today and forever.
Friends, bidding adieu to a brother officer who is embarking on an attack, return from where is next to none, is the most difficult circumstances in which an officer would like to be in. I have been in that position, wished to hold the time back or at least give the last hug as he had said “galle lagho yaar, na jaane koinse mulaakat akhare hogi”
This mental block prevented me from going back to the unit, going back to the battalion, visiting Kargil war memorial, meeting the people with whom I had the privilege of fighting the enemy on point 4875 and most importantly I never mustered the courage to meet the parents and twin brother of Capt Vikram Batra for the past 17 years.
As fate would have it, we all gathered at one place for the Golden Jubilee Celebrations. The first time I came across Vishal Batra, twin brother of Capt Vikram Batra, in a flash I was reminded of my last meeting with Capt Vikram Batra when I crawled down point 4875 and he went ahead for the attack. Vishal not only is a look alike of Capt Vikram, but also has the same smile, same charm, same josh and same charisma. Rather I would say two physical entities but same soul.
For me it was nothing short of meeting Capt Vikram Batra again after 17 years. It seems that the thing I always wanted to do with Capt Vikram, the tight hug, the firm handshake, the meeting of fists and some emotional talk and to convey my gratitude was fulfilled.
But for you Vikram I wouldn’t have been here, I wouldn’t have meet my wife, I wouldn’t have had the pleasure of holding my dear daughter Savera in my arms, wouldn’t have lived on the earth for the past 17 years.
Thank you Vikram sir, just to let you know you are being missed and remembered.
“galle lagho yaar, na jaane koinse mulaakat akhare hogi”
On this day 17 years back, as the entire nation slept, barring a few brave men enduring the extreme cold in the icy peaks of Kargil at point 4875, their lives changed forever. Some made the supreme sacrifice, some sacrificed part of their body and some would carry the memories of life and death. Anyways life changed forever for these few brave men.
The attack on point 4875 was commenced after last light on 04 July 1999 and for the next 60 hours the men fought one of the most intense battles during the Kargil war. The very fact that during the entire Kargil war four Param Vir Chakras were awarded out of which two Param Vir Chakras were awarded for the bravery shown by the men of 13 Battalion Jammu & Kashmir Rifles on point 4875 proves the intensity of the battle.
The men fought well entrenched enemy for more than 48 hours in the extreme weather conditions without food and water risking their lives, shedding their blood and even sacrificing their lives all but refusing to be evacuated as they had sworn to hoist the tricolor on point 4875. Indeed the tricolor was hoisted on point 4875 by a few brave men on 07 July 1999.
Never say, he lost his life, never say he lost his limb; for freedom was the gift they unselfishly gave, pain and death was the ultimate price they paid.
With a hand upon my heart, I feel the pain, I feel the pride, I feel the respect: my reverence is revealed.
In honor of all the soldiers who played their part for the success of point 4875 earning the unit the award of BRAVEST OF THE BRAVE.
When the nation is busy asking for proof from my men in uniform as they came back safely after the surgical strike, when the reel heroes of this nation were busy supporting Pakistani actors who never cared to condemn Uri attack, we got connected to one more family. One more family became a part of our life and we will be connected for ever.
My Durga puja started last Thursday with my visit to the family of Sepoy Gangadhar Dalui, Uri martyr. Ma durga who protected all the gods visits her mother during this time of the year. And he left his mother, his home, to protect his another mother, his dear motherland and us. Ma durga will return every year. But he will never return as he now rests on the lotus feet of Ma Durga.
As I was going to his village, a thought came that he also came back home for the last time boxed in a coffin, draped in tri colour through the same road. He was sleeping peacefully. No pain, no loss was bothering him anymore. He was sleeping peacefully that 18th September night also when the traitors,terrorists attacked them. They were killed. From Friday Durga puja started. As I was nearing his village,every young boy I saw in new cloth i remembered him. I wished he was Gangadhar. I so wish he was alive among us , celebrating Durga puja with his family. Those who are not bothered about the Uri martyrs must have not lost any dear ones in their life. On my way to his home a bunch of young rough men stopped the car to collect money for Durga puja. As soon as i took his name, they spared me with huge respect. Who says that my state don’t know how to show respect to her martyrs ? This is the glory of a shaheed
I started my journey with a Google map in my hand. I just knew the name of the village. As I reached the village, the villagers guided me to their hero’s home. As I knocked the door, the mother of Sepoy Gangadhar Dalui asked me to come inside.
We have never talked before. She has not seen or known me before. As I went inside and touched her feet, she broke down into tears.A mother’s pain has no words to express. It can only be felt. It seems that her life left along with her son.
Despite hailing from a very poor family and an interior village, she inspired and worked hard to send his son to Indian Army. And today, what pains her most is that she was at home in her safe and comfort zone. Her 22 years old son was also sleeping peacefully. Enemies killed his son in sleep. She wished if the enemies had the guts to attack from the front. She has full faith on the bravery of her son.
After the passing out parade of Sepoy Gangadhar Dalui, he became a vegetarian. According to him, he took an oath to protect life. So he stopped taking non-veg food.
22 years is a very tender age. He had a lot of dreams and duties that remain unfulfilled. He wanted to repair his house, give his mother all the comforts in the world. Life is so uncertain.
Through the journey of visiting the families of martyrs, we have realized that it is far more tough to be a family of a martyr than to be a martyr. It needs far more bravery and strength to deal with the untimely loss that comes without any preparation. May the family of our young brave heart Sepoy Gangadhar Dalui get all the strength to deal with the irreparable loss. Jai Hind.
Last evening, there was a story telling session….. I came to know about some of our warriors over phone from Vikas…….I thought to share those stories of supreme braveries with you all. While searching for details about one of them I found a community in Orkut and achieved little in the mission to get some details about him – Capt R Subramanian, 1PARA, SF.
Capt Subbu was born on 12th Aug 1976 to Mr. and Mrs. S. Ramachandran – a family from Kerala, settled in Mumbai. The young boy scored 94% and 96% in the Xth and XIIth standard examination and got selected in the National Defense Academy (NDA), Pune for the 90th course at NDA (July 1993). He passed out from NDA in 1996 and completed the training at IMA, Dehra Dun in 1997. The daring young man was then attached with the 1 Para, SF since 1997.
During the Kargil war, the young Lt was busy at Drass Sector, Mushkoh valley till end of August 1999 and led several tough operations there. He was promoted as Captain in March 2000.
When he went back to his troop after a leave in June 2000, he found his men preparing for an assault against the militants in the Haphruda forest of Kupwara. Capt Subbu volunteered the operation. During the operation they managed to kill 5 militants among the eight and took a break at the night.
In the next morning they went to the site of operation and while removing the bodies of the militants, suddenly one the them fired from the closest range on Capt Subbu. Instantaneously, he also fired on the militant and both of them killed each other. The point blank range firing made impossible to identify the face of the brave heart and Indian Army covered the face with a thick layer of sandalwood before the hero reached his home wrapped in tricolor.
On 19th of June, 2000 the nation lost one of her most talented, efficient and intelligent officers in the forest of Kupwara and he was awarded with Kirti Chakra on the republic day of 2001. The warrior could probably be descried the best in his own words,
“You have never lived until You have almost died, And for those who choose to fight, Life has a special flavor, The protected will never know!!!”
They never die for fame or name; neither do they die for money, awards or pension. They give their life and their family for the sake of our safety comfort and happiness. But it’s our responsibility to know about our fallen heroes as we owe our life and happiness to them. Today’s post is about such 5 unsung war heroes who along with Captain Saurabh Kalia of the Indian Army laid down his life during the Kargil War while being held as a prisoner of war by the Pakistani security forces.
On May 15, 1999 Saurabh Kalia along with five soldiers – Sepoys Arjun Ram, Banwari Lal Bagaria, Bhikha Ram Moondh, Moola Ram Bidiyasar and Naresh Singh Sinsinwar of the 4 Jat Regiment had gone for a routine patrol of the Bajrang Post in the Kaksar sector in the rugged, treeless Ladakh mountains. After a continuous cross fire with Pakistan armed forces from across the LoC, he and his troops ran out of ammunition. They were finally encircled by a platoon of Pakistan rangers and captured alive before any Indian reinforcement could reach for their help. No trace of this entire patrol was left meanwhile Radio Skardu of Pakistan announced that Captain Saurabh Kalia had been captured by the Pakistani troops. It was after this that India discovered hundreds of guerrillas had established fortified positions on the peaks of the hills deep inside the Indian side of the Line of control, with sophisticated equipment and supply lines back to Pakistan-controlled Kashmir
Captain Kalia and his men were in captivity for over twenty-two (May 15, 1999 – June 7, 1999) days and subjected to torture as evident from their bodies handed over by Pakistan Army on June 9, 1999. The postmortem revealed that the Pakistan army had tortured their prisoners by burning their bodies with cigarettes, piercing ear-drums with hot rods, puncturing eyes before removing them, breaking most of the teeth and bones, fractures of the skull, cutting the lips, chipping of nose, chopping off limbs and private organs of these soldiers besides inflicting all sorts of physical and mental tortures and finally shooting them dead, as evidenced by the bullet wound to the temple. The postmortem report also confirmed that injuries were inflicted ante-mortem (before death)
** Sepoy Moola Ram Bidiyasar belonged to village Kathoti in Jayal tehsil of Nagaur district in Rajasthan. He was in Unit-04 Jat Regiment of Indian Army. His father’s name is Raghunat Ram and mother’s name is Rameshwari. His mother inspired him to join Indian Army. His entire village is very proud of his sacrifice.
** Sepoy Arjun Ram Baswana of 4 Jat Regiment was born on 5th October 1976 in the village Budhi in Nagaur tehsil of Nagaur district in Rajasthan. His father’s name is Chaudhari Chokha Ram Baswana and his mother’s name is Bhanwari Devi. He was very good in sports like Kabaddi and hockey. He has even played in state level and got many awards. Because of his well built body, he had taken part in wrestling also.
** Sepoy Banwari Lal Bagaria belonged to village Sigdola Chhota in Laxmangarh tehsil of Sikar district in Rajasthan. He was survived by his wife Smt. Santosh Devi.
** Sepoy Bhikha Ram Moondh was born in 16th January 1977 in the village Patasar in Pachpadra tehsil of Barmer district in Rajasthan. His father’s name is Chenaram Choudhry and mother’s name is Raai Devi. He joined the Jat Regiment of Indian Army in 26th April 1995. He got married to Bhanwri Devi in the year 1994.
**Sepoy Naresh Singh Sinsinwar belonged to village Chhoti Ballabh in Iglas tehsil of Aligarh district in Uttar Pradesh. He was survived by his wife Smt. Kalpana Devi.
Kargil hero Captain PV VIKRAM was born to Lt Col PKPV Panicker and Kalyani Panicker at MANARI HOUSE, PANNIYANKARA, Kallai P.O.KOZHIKODE on 24th OCT 1973. He joined 1st Std in KV No.1, Kozhikode in 1979.He was shifted to KV Talbahat in UP due to his father’s transfer to that station from field area. He continued his studies in KV No.1 Sri Nagar[J&K] in 7th&8th and 9 &10 in KV Aurangabad Maharastra. He again joined KV No.1 Kozhikode in the 11th Std. He was shifted to KV Faridkot Punjab from where completed 12th Std. He joined NSS College, Ottapalam, Kerala and graduated in B Sc Computer Science in the year 1994.He was an active member of NCC and passed `C’ Certificate of NCC. He appeared for CDSE and qualified to Join in Indian Military Academy, DEHRADUN .
He passed out as a Commissioned Officer on 8th Jun 1996, in the rank of 2nd Lieutenant in the Regiment of ARTILLERY in 141 Field Regiment. He served in Seachian Glacier and then in KARGIL[J&K].He took part in the Indo Pak Military operations in OP-VIJAY in KARGIL.He rendered supreme sacrifice on 2nd Jun 1999 in KARGIL while he was leading in an assault operation with Infantry against Pakistani piquet.
I was always keen to join the armed forces and during my higher secondary class (10 + 1) of present days, I planned to appear for the NDA exams. But as all mothers are possessive of their children
(Special love for the eldest one), she did not allow me to appear for that exam. I was quite demoralized but in those days children used to listen to their parents and make sure that their feelings are not hurt. It was in May 1970 that I cleared my higher secondary with a first division (A rare act those days). I was convinced by my parents and some colleagues that engineering is the best option so I took admission in BITS Pilani.
My studies for the first year started in July 1970 but in Aug I saw and advertisement in the papers for increase in the age limit for NDA exam. It came as a God sent gift for me as I thought that I should not miss this opportunity. I went to Kota just two days before the last date of submission of the form. I collected the same from the Zonal recruiting office and after filling it up I convinced my dad to sign it. Much against the wishes of my mother he relented signing it. The next day was the last date and I was sure that a registered post will never reach the UPSC office in time. That evening I went to the railway station and gave my form to RMS (Railway Mail Service). They accepted my form and as the train reaches Delhi in the morning I was praying to God almighty to help me so that my form reaches them. After a couple of days I got their confirmation and I was very elated.
The written exam was to be in Dec 70 and I had chosen the centre of the exam as Jaipur. Meanwhile at BITS Pilani I became a member of YHA (Youth Hostel Association) which had hostels in most of the cities. As no one was there to stay with in Jaipur for those two days of the exam, I chose to put up in this hostel. Only communication was through letters and I was lucky to get a room with them. In December it’s cold in north India, specially in Rajasthan and no bedding was available in trains or guest houses so I had to carry a heavy holdall to ensure that I do not freeze in that cold.
The rest house in Jaipur was in a wilderness and very few knew about it. I got a cycle rickshaw person to take me to it. After much search we could locate the so called rest house. It had a weird look as it was an old depilated building with a big banyan tree next to it. Even the house keeper was staying there. We searched him out and when he opened the room I was aghast to see cobwebs and dust everywhere. It seemed that it was not used for ages. A rickety bed was there in the center of the room. As I put my bedding on it a creaking sound was heard and it seemed to me that it would break. The washroom had half a bucket of dirty water. On asking he told me that water can be filled from the tap outside. For food I had to visit the nearest eating place. It was evening time so I filled a bucket of water and after leaving it in the washroom I went out to eat something. I had my dinner and felt comfortable. Went back to the room and was surprised as there no electricity supply. The bazaar had closed down so I could not get candles. Fortunately I had a torch and I started revising my subject of exam of next day. Within two hours the cells gave up and I was left in the darkness. I tried to sleep but in that ‘Bhoot bangla’ it was scary. Atypical horror movie scene was being enacted. No light, light breeze blowing outside which made the banyan tree leaves russle. A few pigeons had made a nest on the window sil and their ‘Gutar goo’ sound was scary. At that moment I thought that this was a funny way to begin. (I could not afford to stay in a hotel). After sometime I went off to sleep and woke up fresh in the morning. After a quick change and a breakfast, I went to the exam center for my exams. There were two papers and they got over by 5 PM. Came back but on the way bought two big candles to help me study at night. The next day I appeared for two more papers and left for Kota, my home town that evening.
The UPSC results for the written exam of NDA were declared in first week of February. To the surprise of everyone (my peers and elders), I cleared the written exam and was put in the merit for the SSB interview. My call came in end March and as I had opted for Air Force, so I had to go to Dehradun to the No. 1 AFSB (Air Force Selection board). It was a six days stay there and as we were about 30 we all were required to be there for all six days. (Present days nearly 80% candidates are sent back after the first day aptitude test). I cleared my PABT (Pilot Aptitude Battery Tests) followed by the obstacle course and group discussion. A psychology test was also conducted. Now the merit of the group was a closely guarded secret and none of us was aware of what was in store for us the next day. On the penultimate day we had one to one interview with the Vice President of the board. I was interviewed for about 20 minutes but the most surprising answer that I gave shook me as well. He asked me to tell about my weaknesses and I replied that ‘I lack self confidence’. At this he smiled and remarked as not to worry because it was for the services to build my confidence. Next day when the results were announced, I was one amongst the eight selected. I am still wondering how was I selected after that stupid answer but I was later told that one has to be truthful and that did make a difference.
We packed our bags and the selected candidates were sent to Air Force hospital at Delhi. We had to stay there for five days and a very comprehensive medical was done. A few tests were repeated as well. On the last day I was told that I was unfit for the Air Force and Navy because of my substandard vision. I left the place very dejected but medical problem was beyond my doing. My college people were extremely co-operative and gave me enough marks in sessionals and I cleared my First Year with 7.0 CGPA.
The summer vacations had started and I went home to spend them there with my family and relatives. The final merit list was announced in second week of June and to the surprise of everyone I was one of the selected candidates but as an Army candidate. It was celebration time and we all had a good jam session. By 25th of June the selected candidates started receiving the call letters.
The term/ semester commenced in first week of July but I had still not received my call letter. One morning I was very disgusted but then reconciled to the fact that I will have to be back to BITS. I opened up my Maths book to revise the subject. I don’t remember when I felt asleep on the study table itself but was woken up by the ringing of the door bell. I opened the door and a postman was there. He asked me if anyone had applied for the Army. I replied in confirmation and he handed over to me a letter. I opened it up and it was my call letter to NDA. I could not believe it and did not know what to do as I was to join NDA by 15 July with so many of the items to be purchased and reservation done.
My dad went to leave me to the Academy as I had never travelled alone that far. We were to report at Kirkee railway station. There was a reception table where a few faujis sat (I did not know their ranks as I had no clue about them). They took my joining letter and after filling a couple of forms I was asked to wait as the vehicle going back to NDA was to leave after about an hour. They told my dad to leave saying that now onwards they shall take care of me. My dad bid me good bye, went to the other platform. A train for Bombay came within half an hour which he boarded and left. Suddenly I felt lonely and in a strange group.
The vehicle left the station with all of us. It went through a couple of hills (which I later came to know as Pashan Road). Just then we saw a board which read “First view of NDA 50 meters ahead”. All candidates got excited. As we crossed the top point we saw a huge valley full of forest and some buildings nicely laid out. The most impressive building was the Sudan Block (I came to know later). Sudan block was a magnificent block with a huge dome something similar to the dome of Rashtrapati Bhawan. I was assigned “I“ Squadron (Called India Squadron). We were taken to the block with our typical black box and our belongings. All cadets were given a single room each with common washrooms at the end of the corridor. This is how I started my innings at NDA. This was just the beginning and lot many surprises waited for us in the coming days…. (To be continued)…
“Maker of Men” is the slogan of NDA and it is very true. Young boys come here from various walks of life. Boys from sainik/military schools, from convent schools, rural areas, urban areas, lower class, middle class, well to do families, etc. but all are treated in a similar manner. Training and facilities for all are the same. Everyone is a Cadet first and then his name. NDA transformed me from a lower middle class boy with a pure civilian background into a young responsible man.
Our three years of training in Kharakvasla was a rigorous one with just enough time for our activities to be done. At the start of every term (semester) a calendar for the complete semester was given to each cadet. It had all the major activities preplanned and the authorities used to follow this calendar in letter and spirit. The first thing a cadet used to do in this calendar was to write the DLTGH (Days Left To Go Home). The count used to start from the last day of the term backwards to the first day. The cadet may forget anything but this count used to work like an automatic watch in his brain. It indicated that when could one go back home after the term.
Every cadet was getting trained both officially by the instructors and Officers of the academy and unofficially by the senior cadets. The spirit of all types developed tremendously. The old boys of a particular school looked after their juniors well and that was termed as “School type spirit”. Next came the “Course spirit” and it developed in the sense that all cadets of the same course shall go through any amount of punishment but will not divulge the secrets of their course mates. It then grew up to the “Squadron spirit” where all cadets of the same squadron used to fight tooth and nail for the prestige of the squadron. All competitions whether team games or individual games or activities were getting points for the squadron and it helped in every squadron to do their best and compete for the Commandants banner. As the terms passed by the spirit of your service was inadvertently developed as each service cadet (Army, Navy or Air Force) thought themselves from the best service. But the co-ordination developed amongst various services used to prove a big boon at a later stage in the service career. At present the Army Chief, General DS Suhag and Air Force Chief, Air Marshal Saha were together at the same time in NDA. The inter services understanding was unique and the basic aim of NDA was to develop this understanding in the young cadets.
I can keep on writing about NDA endlessly but here I shall pen down some of the interesting facts relating to my training. Our NDA prayer “O God help us to keep ourselves physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight ……….” has each word so framed that it is a summary of what a cadet should be. This prayer was recited by all cadets of a squadron together at the reveille (morning fall-in) time. Our uniforms were checked by various senior cadet appointments such as corporals, sergeants, company sergeant major (CSM), and many more. The day began with outdoor training, generally both physical training and drill training. But an odd day had only one outdoor and we used to feel a sense of relief. Breakfast was between 0900hrs to 1000hrs and all 1500 cadets were catered for it as per their choice. Each had a proper sitting and was served with porridge, eggs per choice, bread, butter, jam. Tea/ coffee as the cadet wanted. Milk was served in milk jugs for all. Best part was that within a short span, practically half an hour, all cadets were served breakfast. All were supposed to reach their respective classrooms by 1000hrs as the classes began at that time. All cadets were given a cycle each and were supposed to move in a squad of 10 to 12 cadets. Those not having their bikes for one reason or the other were required to run to the next place of training as walking was prohibited for all cadets. Classes were held for all subjects as per time table. 46 course was the first batch to get B. Sc. / B.A. degree from JNU. The faculty was par excellence and had seen the cadets over the ages. A few were right from the time the Academy started in 1949. The lunch was from 1330 hrs to 1430 hrs. The uniform of all cadets was checked by senior appointments or the drill ustads (instructors). All defaulters had to hand over their I-cards and would get them back only after the punishment was done. From the metal tips of your shoe laces to your handkerchief and to your haircut was checked. After lunch, the cadets, weak in a particular event e.g. PT or drill were given extra training. The games activity started at 4PM and got over at 5.30PM. Cadets used to move to the squadrons, have a cup of tea with snacks, have a bath, dress up in their khakis. All used to assemble in the ante room where the orders were passed to all cadets and seniors used to motivate the juniors for upcoming competitions. From 6.30PM to 8.30PM was study time where all cadets were required to sit on their study tables keeping the doors of their cabins open. This was followed by dinner and lights out time was 10.30 PM and reveille was at 05.30 AM.
Games and sports were given lot of importance and most of the time the inter squadron competitions were held. All cadets of the team were to go for the games along with the extras whereas the other cadets were there to cheer their squadron teams. Loud chorus cheers like “Up Up India (your squadron name)… that’s the way India… keep it up India…. Score a goal India… etc” were heard on all grounds. There were about 12 football fields, same number of hockey fields and you name a game and it was played there. People knowing a game used to get more training in that particular game. Cadets interested in picking up a new game were given all the support. I loved the game of hockey and became a member of the academy team from the first term itself. I captained the Academy Hockey team in my final term and was awarded “Blue” in that game. The academy teams used to play many matches in local tournaments and participate in the triangular series played between NDA, IMA and ACC. I picked the games of squash, badminton, basketball and athletics. I was lucky to be a member of the riding club and got a chance to go for sailing as well.
The three years of stay at NDA was full of events for me. Being a non-swimmer I had to learn swimming which took some time. I had the opportunity to sit for the first time on a horseback and it was a great experience to go through the riding training for two years. I was the right marker of the academy drill from my 3rd term onwards. Became a corporal in my 4th term and a sergeant in the 5th term. In the final term I got the appointment of Academy Cadet Adjutant (ACA) responsible for the discipline of all 1500 cadets. Finally passed out of NDA in June 1974. After a short break of two weeks I reported to the next training centre, The Indian Military Academy (IMA) at Dehradun.
Training at IMA was of one year duration and it was an absolute professional one. The trainees are called “Gentleman Cadet (GC)”. For the next one year along with the classroom training we were taught field craft, weapon training, tactics, etc. There were two camps held, one in each term where we got a chance to practice the field craft and tactical skills on the ground. In my final term I became Senior Under Officer (SUO) and in rotation the Academy Under Officer (AUO). Somewhere in the mid of the term we were asked to give our choice of arms which we were keen to join but the final allotment decision was of the Army Headquarters. My Battalion Commander wanted me to join the Corp of Engineers and that to its Para regiment. My mother took a promise out of me that I would opt for EME (Corps of Electronics and Mechanical Engineering). The former is a fighting arm and the latter is a service. I opted for EME. The final appointments when announced did not have my name in the senior appointments as I had opted for a service. But my overall marks were so high that I was one of the top 20. These 20 cadets are given their choice arm/ service. I passed out of IMA as 7th in the order of merit and was commissioned into EME on 15 June 1975. My parents attended my pipping ceremony for a 2nd Lieutenant and were very proud of me.