Captain Vikram Batra, PVC (9 September 1974 – 7 July 1999) was an officer of the Indian Army, posthumously awarded with the Param Vir Chakra, India's highest and prestigious award for valour, for his actions during the 1999 Kargil War in Kashmir between India and Pakistan. He led one of the toughest operations in mountain warfare in Indian history. He was often called as ‘'Sher Shah'’ in the intercepted messages of the Pakistan army.
Early life and career
Vikram Batra was born on 9 September 1974 in Palampur, Himachal Pradesh, to G.L. Batra and Jai Kamal Batra. He got his primary education from his mother, who herself was a teacher. He then attended the D.A.V. Public School in Palampur. He received his senior secondary education at Central School, Palampur. After passing his 10+2 in 1992 from Central School Palampur, he got admitted in D.A.V. College, Chandigarh in B.Sc where he was adjudged the best N.C.C. Cadet (Air Wing) in two zones. Later, he was selected to join the Indian Military Academy in Dehradun in 1996, and was commissioned in the Indian Army as a Lieutenant of the 13 Jammu & Kashmir Rifles at Sopore, in Jammu and Kashmir. He rose to the rank of Captain.
During the Kargil invasion of 1999 by Pakistan, Lt. Batra (at time), 13 JAK Rifles, who had recently returned from a commando course, and his Delta Company were ordered to recapture peak 5140 on 19 June 1999 five weeks after the war began. Nicknamed Sher Shah ('Lion King') in Urdu for his courage which also doubled as his call sign, he decided to approach the hill from the rear, aiming to surprise the Pakistani defenders. He and his men ascended the sheer rock-cliff, but as the group neared the top, the enemy pinned them on the face of the bare cliff with machine gun fire. Captain Batra, along with five of his men, climbed up regardless and after reaching the top, hurled two grenades at the machine gun post. He single-handedly killed three enemy soldiers in close combat. He was seriously injured in the process, but insisted on regrouping his men to continue with the mission. Inspired by the courage displayed by Captain Batra, the soldiers of 13 JAK Rifles charged the enemy position and captured Point 5140 at 3:30 a.m. on 20 June 1999. His company is credited with killing at least eight Pakistani intruders and recovering a heavy machine gun.
The capture of Point 5140 set in motion a string of successes, such as Point 5100, Point 4700, Junction Peak and Three Pimples. Along with fellow Captain Anuj Nayyar, Batra led his men to victory with the recapture of Point 4750 and Point 4875. This led to the fall of Tiger Hill and India’s eventual hold on the valley was strengthened.
Nine days later, Batra was assigned to an urgent mission to recapture peak 4875. This was one of the most difficult peaks to capture as the Pakistani troops sat above the peak at 16,000 feet and the climb gradient was 80 degrees. The fog made matters worse for Batra and his team. In the early morning hours of 7 July 1999, he commanded a mission to rescue an injured officer during a Pakistani counterattack against Point 4875. During the rescue attempt, he pushed aside his Subedar, saying "Tu baal-bacchedar hai, hat ja peeche."(You have children, step aside) and was killed in action while clearing enemy positions. His last words were, "Jai Mata Di.", which is a Punjabi creed referring to Durgadevi, the Hindu Goddess of Victory.
Param Vir Chakra
The Param Vir Chakra citation on the Official Indian Army Website reads as follows:
In popular culture
In the 2003 Hindi film LOC Kargil, based on the entire Kargil conflict Abhishek Bachchan played the role of Captain Batra.
Captain Batra is also well known in India for using the slogan, Yeh Dil Maange More! as his signal to communicate mission success. He is also known for an interview in which he stated that Pakistani Soldiers were aware of him as "Sher Shah" and addressed him as such in the middle of engagements.
He is also honoured with several landmarks being named after him: The historic capture of point 4875 led to the mountain being named 'Batra top' in his honor. A hall at Service Selection Center Allahabad is named 'Vikram Batra Block', a residential area in the Jabalpur Cantonment is called 'Captain Vikram Batra Enclave' and the combined cadet's mess at the IMA is named 'Vikram Batra Mess'.
A memorial for war veterans including Batra stands at his alma matter DAV College, Chandigarh honouring the services of the soldiers.
"Either I will come back after hoisting the Tricolour (Indian flag), or I will come back wrapped in it, but I will be back for sure."
"Yeh Dil Maange More! (My heart asks for more!)"
"Don't worry about us, Pray for your safety."
Batra's last words were the battle-cry "Jai Mata Di!" ("Victory to Mother Durga!" in Dogri/ Punjabi)