The Indian Armed Forces defeated Pakistan in a decisive war on July 26, 1999. Many courageous young warriors sacrificed their lives protecting their country on the difficult terrain of Kargil during the intense conflict.
It's been 22 years since then, yet the Kargil heroes' unmatched bravery and sacrifice are still imprinted in the country's collective memory. Among these courageous warriors was a man who fought ferociously and selflessly, and who became the face of every young Indian soldier.
Here is the story and facts about Param Vir Chakra Vikram Batra aka Shershaah, a brave soldier whose efforts on the battlefield went above and beyond heroism.
- Vikram Batra was born on September 9, 1974, in Himachal Pradesh, and grew up in the lovely hill station of Palampur. He was the elder of twin sons born to Girdhari Lal Batra, a government school principal, and Kamal Kant, a school teacher.
- Vikram was a popular student among his peers and teachers since he was an all-rounder at school, excelling in academics as well as sports and extracurricular activities. He was named the top NCC cadet in north India, and he also held a green belt in karate and competed at the national level in table tennis.
- Captain Vikram Batra began his military career on December 6, 1997, with the Indian Army's Jammu and Kashmir Rifles' 13th battalion. Captain Batra was stationed in Uttar Pradesh during the 1999 Kargil war when he was called to join the forces in the Dras sector.
- Captain Batra arrived in Dras on June 6 and was assigned to the Rajputana Rifles' 2nd battalion as a reserve. At the time, he was assigned to the 56th Mountain Brigade. The 2nd battalion of the Rajputana Rifles was entrusted with recapturing the Tololing mountain ridge from Pakistani intruders as the Kargil War progressed. His superior gave him the code name 'Shershaah.'
- Captain Batra and his team reclaimed control of Peak 5140 on June 20. Captain Batra took the lead from the front and confronted Pakistani intruders in hand-to-hand combat. Later, he sent a message to his superiors using the codeword 'Yeh Dil Maange More' to alert them that Indian troops had regained Peak 5140.
- The responsibility of hoisting the Indian flag at Point 4875 was then assigned to Captain Batra. Captain Batra and his crew began their expedition to recapture Point 4875, which is located in Mushkoh Valley, on July 7.
- The battle to recapture Point 4875, which is roughly 16,000 feet high, became extremely deadly as Pakistani attackers continued to fire machine guns at Captain Batra and his squad. One of Captain Batra's team members was shot in the leg and he had to flee to save his life. Captain Batra was attacked by Pakistani intruders just as he was attempting to take his team member to safety. Captain Batra escaped the gunfire, but a splinter from a rocket-propelled grenade struck him in the head, martyring him instantly.
- On August 15, 1999, then-President KR Narayanan awarded Captain Vikram Batra the Param Vir Chakra posthumously. According to his award citation, in the face of the enemy, Captain Vikram Batra demonstrated the most spectacular personal bravery and leadership of the highest order and made the sacrifice in the best traditions of the Indian Army.
- A biopic 'Shershaah' has also been released on August 12, 2021, which is based on the life of Captain Vikram Batra, the Kargil martyr. It stars Sidharhth Malhotra as Vikram Batra and his twin brother Vishal Batra.