A Tribute to Capt. Vikram Batra by his twin brother

Posted: September 12, 2011 by Shishir Gupta in India
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Captain Vikram Batra has always been and will always be a source of inspiration to me, and has always an been an idol and probably will always remain. What he did 12 years back, the courage, the valour, the exceptional love for motherland he displayed then all at the age of 24, I cannot even imagine to display even half of it at the same age.

I always was looking for relevant material to wrote on him, but just could not find something good enough. This is when a couple of days back during a lecture of Organizational Behaviour my faculty (also an ex-army officer), to give us an example of Leadership showed us a video, where he was reading out a message which was written by Capt. Vikram Batra’s twin brother, Vishal Batra, when Vishal had visited the heights of Kargil and Drass to give a tribute to his martyr brother on his 10th death anniversary in 2009.

This message was truely inspiring and a great tribute to Capt. Vikram Batra, and after seeing the video I instantly knew that I had found an able material to write on one of my idols.

Vishal Batra - Capt. Vikram Batra's identical twin brother

Here is the message written by Vishal Batra:

My dream of visiting Vikram as a commanding officer of a regiment couldn’t come true. But he still commands—in the hearts of the soldiers posted in Kargil and Drass.

When I talk about Luv, I don’t know where to begin. Capt. Vikram Batra PVC (posthumous) is Luv, and I, his younger twin, Kush. His identical twin. Ours was a childhood spent in the hills of Palampur making the most of our identical looks—playing pranks, filling in for each other and at times even getting punished for one another’s mistakes. The similarity ran deeper than looks. We also had the same interests. Both of us started playing table tennis at the age of ten. It’s another story that Vikram went on to become the school champion for five consecutive years. But I’d like to believe that I had a big hand in that. After all, I chose to lose to him in the semi-finals in the fifth year so that he could make the school record. But deep in my heart, I know that my brother—Shershah of Kargil—was a winner right from the start.

Shershah of Kargil. That’s what the enemy too called Vikram. That’s the mark he made on them on those unforgiving mountains of Kargil. I don’t know at what stage Vikram marched on way ahead of all of us. We’d grown up as regular kids, making our choices as we went along. The first different choice that I remember is when our father started giving us Rs 50 a month for the school bus fare. I chose to travel to school by bus. Vikram opted to walk it and instead spend those rupees in the canteen. As we grew up, Vikram opted for the Army, and I, rejected thrice by the Services Selection Board, settled for business administration. How thrilled he was when he made it to the Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehradun.

It was 6 December 1997. Vikram Batra’s dream came true. He took the oath as an Officer of the Indian Army: The Safety, Honour and Welfare of your country comes first, always and every time / The Honour, Welfare and Comfort of the men you command comes next / Your own Ease, Comfort and Safety comes last, always and every time. /

Mom and Dad pinned up the stars on his shoulder. He stood there smiling from ear to ear in his crew cut and several kilos thinner after the rigorous training. It was a grand moment. But it wasn’t going to be an easy life and Vikram knew that.

When he’d come home on annual leave, we would talk for hours about the challenges he faced in Sopore—the strife-torn town in Jammu & Kashmir’s Baramulla district—which was his first posting. He had been commissioned into 13 JAK Rif. We would dream of the day he would command his regiment and I would get a chance to attend some of the regimental functions with his family and children. That dream is lost now.

Never could I have imagined, even in my wildest dreams, that the stories we saw in the famous TV serial, Param Vir Chakra, which we watched at a neighbour’s house in 1985 (we didn’t have a TV at home back then) would one day become so real for me. And Vikram would be the hero. Vikram was awarded the country’s highest gallantry award, posthumously. He was only 24. His famous words from the height of 18,000 feet: “Yeh Dil Maange More,” after victory over the enemy, still ring in my ears.

It’s been ten years. A lot has changed. And a lot has remained the same. I have many more grey strands in my hair. Vikram is as youthful as ever. Time cannot touch him. In these last ten years, I have longed to visit those mountains that he conquered. And then suddenly, out of the blue, I got a call to travel to Kargil and Drass. It was as if Vikram was calling me to have a chat with him. I didn’t look back, packed my bags and set out to meet him.

I landed in Leh at 10:30 in the morning on 2 July, five days before Vikram’s tenth death anniversary. The valley was more beautiful than it is made out to be in books. From the snow-capped hills surrounding it, I could almost sense Vikram looking at me. I then began the road trip to Drass to meet him. The mountain wind blew faster than the speed of the car and in my mind there was just one picture—of the bearded young man who had become a legend for pushing the enemy back at insurmountable heights where even life does not exist.

A little outside Leh, we reached Gurdwara Pathar Sahib. I said a prayer for Vikram and for all those great soldiers guarding those mountains and our motherland. I recalled what Vikram had written in one of his last letters before the attack: ‘Life is at total risk. Anything can happen here. Take care of yourself and Mom and Dad… My picture has appeared in The Times Of India. Keep a copy for me. I want to see it once I’m back.’ The picture had appeared on the front page of The Times of India on 2 July 1999. It showed him standing with an anti-aircraft gun and weapons he had captured from Pakistani soldiers. This was after the first ferocious attack on Peak 5140 launched after they performed pooja at the Ghumri Base Camp with the call of “Durga Mata Ki Jai”.

Vikram and his men captured point 5140 on 20 June 1999, and two weeks later, when his company launched the attack on point 4875 on 5 July, Vikram was fatally wounded—hit by sniper fire. The company captured the peak, but after 11 casualties. Vikram was one of them.

It was months later, at the Western Command headquarters, when I met the junior commissioned officer (JCO) who was with Vikram the day he was fatally wounded. He was the last man to speak with Vikram. Sub Major Raghunath Singh started wailing when he saw me. He solved the mystery of my twin’s death for me: a young officer, Vikram’s junior, was hit and crying for help. The JCO wanted to go out to help but Vikram stopped him. “The enemy was firing heavily. ‘You have a family and children back home, I will do this,’ saahab said. He stopped me with these words and went out,” Raghunath Singh told me as he wept like a baby, inconsolably. But Vikram was hit by sniper fire. Having realised that, the charged company went berserk, mad with rage at their leader being hit, and killed the enemy soldiers. The tricolour was planted atop point 4875—they call it Batra Top now. Vikram reached Palampur before the sun rose on 11 July 1999. He was wrapped in the tricolour, lying calm almost as if he was trying to catch up on sleep he had lost during these arduous assaults on those treacherous peaks.

Was I really so close to those peaks that I could almost see him fighting there? I wanted to reach up there as fast as possible, but the track was treacherous—the rocky mountain on one side and the sheer fall on the other. In some time, we had left the Indus River behind.

It was a breathtaking journey. A place so beautiful and yet caught in the crossfire of war a decade ago. Midway, at one of the military posts, we had lunch with the commanding officer of 4 JAK Rif. I also met an officer six months senior to Vikram—now a major—and a JCO, both of whom had fought the war together with Vikram. “You look so much like Vikram Sir,” the JCO said and hugged me. I’ve been told that a billion times in the last ten years. There are people now who know me as Captain Vikram Batra’s brother. Many of them even walk into my office at ICICI Bank in Delhi and stare at me as if they know me. Some of them even say, “We’ve seen you somewhere.” When I tell them I’m Captain Batra’s twin, they say, “Oh, ‘Yeh Dil Mange More,’” and shake my hand.

My dream of visiting Vikram as a commanding officer of a regiment couldn’t come true. But Vikram still commands. He’s there in the hearts of the soldiers posted in Kargil and Drass. In that mountain named after him (the Batra Top). And in the transit camp in Drass, called Capt Batra Transit Camp, where weary soldiers break their journey in the call of duty.

‘Call of duty’, the mention of these words takes me back to the days he was to be commissioned as an officer. When he was in the IMA, the footnote of Vikram’s letter pad read, ‘If Death comes to me before I prove my blood, I promise I’ll kill Death.’ You kept your word, Vikram. My Brother, My Twin, I salute you.

I am not sure if the last line “If Death comes to me before I prove my blood, I promise I’ll kill Death.” was actually written by Capt. Vikram Batra. I always believed this line written by another hero of the same Kargil war, and yes another of my idols, Capt. Manoj Pandey. But since this message is written by none other that Vikram Batra’s twin, I presume it to be written by Capt. Batra itself. But surely I would want to know the exact source of it.

Nevertheless, this message is truely inspiring and a very good tribute to the great martyr.

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Comments
  1. Pritesh says:

    dear shishir sir
    its a nice information what you have provided over here .
    he is a role model for young chaps like me who want to join the armed forces and serve the motherland ..
    thank you

  2. Shishir Gupta says:

    Thanks a lot Pritesh for reading and appreceating this. And I agree, he surely is a role model for many.

    -S

  3. komal says:

    capt . vikaram battra was a real hero. thanks for providing this wonderfull information.

  4. Vikas Sharma says:

    Most Inspiring, most encouraging and most interesting note I’ve ever read….Kudos to this Martyr…

  5. Priy Pritam Mohanty says:

    At the time of Kargil war, I was studying in Class-9th. From then, till now. I know just one hero. The Lat. e Captain Vikram Batra. The nation is really inspired the bravery of his youth. Yeh Dil Maange More of such Indian Heroes

  6. The Line which you have mentioned about in the end are written on the back of the TShirt of every Gentleman Cadet who pass of IMA.
    Saw these on my Brother in Laws Tshirt too.
    Thanks for such a nice post.
    Never knew about the twin brother of Capt. Vikram Batra.

  7. ananya priya says:

    we are proud of “U”, our real hero………

  8. Shishir Gupta says:

    Thanks Abhishek for the information. I was not really sure of the source of this line. But it still strongly believe that it was written by Capt. Manoj Pandey but that definitely does not take anything away from either of these two heroes.

    -S

  9. JAIVIR RANA says:

    REAL HERO OF INDIA……YE DIL MAGE MORE…

  10. vishal, we r proud of vikram. i’ve daily been reading about vikram for the last one and a half month and gone through so many articles giving information of our hero vikram batra. yet it seems that something is left out. we want to know more about him. He’ll never die.See after 13 years even he is still the master of our hearts. salute to VIKRAM BATRA, HIS PARENTS AND HIS SIBLINGS, AND HIS FIANCEE

  11. toshi vijay says:

    India and Indians would be pleased as he got captain vikram batra. hats off.. !!

  12. bhavna kumre says:

    ajadi ki kabhi shaam nahi hone denge..,
    shahidon ki kurbaani badnaam nahi hone denge..,
    bachi ho jo ek bund bhi garam lahu ki..,
    tab tak bharat mata ka aanchal nilaam na hone denge…
    dediated to capt. vikram batra..

  13. vishal batra says:

    Thanks Shishir for putting this across here…I just read this back (while this was written by me in 2009) and surely each day since that has been as alive as when Vikram was fighting the war…..I am cut ally looking for my next visit next year when Kargil completes 15 years and we pay homage to each of the soldiers who are yet alive and would always be alive in our hearts….

  14. Shishir Gupta says:

    Thanks a lot Vishal, your appreciation means a lot to me. Capt. Vikram Batra has been an inspiration for our generation.

    I too am looking forward for next year, when Kargil completes 15 years. I hope I can somehow be there then.

    And yes, I just realized the coincidence that as I am replying to your comment, the legend in Capt. Vikram Batra turns 14 years today.

    -S

  15. sandesh singh says:

    capt . vikaram battra was a real hero. i salute him. all paki terror pigs must be afraid of him .can someone from army elaborate how many dirty pakistani islamic pigs were killed by Vikram.

  16. Anuj Sharma says:

    Today is Vijay Diwas…. As we remember Shaheed Bhagat Singh on March 23, 1931 for the sacrifice he did for our country, I think this day is for our Shaheed Cap. Vikram Batra. You will be remebered always…

  17. VISHAL SHARMA says:

    At the age of 24 ,Capt. Batra was , is & will remain REAL HERO of this country.

    THE LEGEND OF INDIAN ARMY……..

  18. Srishti chanda says:

    Salute to cap vikram batra who saved the life of peoples and the country……we are proud of him…..TRULY

  19. Titas says:

    I would love to meet Vishal once. i dont know why but since the time Kargil happened, I worship all those who have sacrificed their lives for our better tomorrow. Even till date I have those paper cuttings containing the news of Kargil martyrs. Somewhere after seeing the pictures of Captain Batra I feel that I am deeply connected with him,……………honestly. I also have a plan to visit Palampur once, the resident area of Captain Batra.

    Was eager to join the army in this lifetime but am sure to do it in my next birth…………..

  20. Arun Yadav says:

    very nice sir ji

  21. Gulshan Rai says:

    The nation will remain indebted to Capt. Batra. AAP is likely to field his mother, Kamla Kanta Batra, as its candidate from Hamirpur Parliamentary constituency in the forthcoming elections as a humble gesture of tribute to the brave son of India……..Gulshan Rai AAP worker/ volunteer, Una H P

  22. kuwar ajeet says:

    i guess i cant be even 1% like vikram sir..really he will be young and brave forever…

  23. Vikram battra was a powerful man in indian army
    THE LEGEND OF INDIAN ARMY……..
    I am proud of captain mr. Vikram batra

  24. Ranvijay says:

    Salute to the hero of nation.
    I m tears reading this. There is something
    Inside all of us. We can learn a lot from vikramji. Love u. Nation is always proud of u.

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