By the morning of 8 July 1999, India had won Point 4875 but lost Capt Vikram Batra. With the conquest of Point 4875, the connectivity to Ladakh was secured and our vehicles could move freely on the Srinagar–Leh Highway. The day his body was brought home, it was excruciating. With tears coursing down her cheeks, my wife said, ‘No parent can see the dead body of their young son. Our son had captured three peaks, he had taken the nation by storm, but suddenly he was no more. Yet, when God gives you a mortal blow, he gives you the strength to cope with the grief. Guru Gobind Singh sacrificed four sons for the country. Maybe there was some reason that God gave me twins – one had been marked for the country and one for me.’
When one of Vikram’s friends had told him to be careful since the war had begun, he had replied, ‘Don’t worry. I will either come back after raising the Indian flag in victory or return wrapped in it.’ Vikram fulfilled both his assertions. He raised India’s victorious tricolour at the height of 17,000 feet when he captured Point 5140. Later, when he fell fighting for the country at Point 4875, his body was brought back home wrapped in our national flag. Such was the bravery and patriotism of our son Vikram.
We had never imagined that a son could make his parents worthy of the amount of honour we received from people across our country in the last twenty years after his martyrdom. He has elevated our status to that of proud parents of a Param Vir Chakra recipient.
I was overwhelmed with the honour that I received at Surat (Gujarat) when I passed through the roads, stretching about 20 kilometres, on a chariot. I was wearing a turban and heavy floral garlands. There were two more chariots occupied by two other surviving PVCs. About four lakh citizens of Surat were standing on both sides of the road and showering flower petals on us. It raised my emotions. With wet eyes, I thought of Vikram and wished my son could have received this honour in his own life.
Though we miss him every moment, we feel that he is always with us spiritually. The departure of a noble son is, of course, painful, but to bring forth such a son is also great luck. We will always be proud of him.
Excerpt from the revised edition of ‘A Soldier’s Diary: Kargil, The Inside Story’ by Harinder Baweja, published by Roli Books.