“Dearest Papa, Mama, and Granny, By the time you get this letter, I'll be observing you all from the sky enjoying the hospitality of the Apsaras. I have no regrets, in fact even if I become a human again, I'll join the army and fight for my nation,” read the final letter written by 22-year-old Captain Vijayant Thapar, right before he led his men into battle during Operation Vijay of the Kargil War.
The young officer, from the battle-tested 2 Raj Rif, was tasked to assault area Knoll in the Drass sector by commanding the leading platoon of Alfa company into the battle of Tololing, which is known today as the turning point of the war. During the advance, Capt. Thapar’s platoon was bombarded by a barrage of enemy artillery, devastating his troops’ position with deadly accuracy.
Despite the unit sustaining significant casualties, and many of his men suffering from shell shock, the gallant officer took stock of the situation; evacuating the casualties, rallying his shell shocked and inspiring them by personally leading the assault from the northern face against the enemy’s Medium Machine Gun (MMG) fire.
Like a man possessed, he ferociously charged at the enemy, firing from the hip whilst lobbing grenades at fortified and well-entrenched enemy positions. During this act of incredible valour, the daredevil officer sustained grievous injuries, taking shots to the stomach and his hand. Capt. Thapar’s injuries did not deter the officer in him; he continued to advance, ordering his troops to follow him into the inferno of battle.
Witnessing the sheer audacity and daredevilry of a young officer who was barely out of the training academy proving his mettle in a trial by fire, his band of brothers from 2 Raj Rif charged ferociously up the hill towards superior enemy positions.
The fervour and raw courage on display by the men of 2 Raj Rif, unnerved the well-entrenched enemy to abandon their tactically superior positions, effectively enabling 2 Raj Rif to capture the objective. The victory, however, did not come without a cost, Capt. Thapar breathed his last, giving up his life in service of the nation against foreign enemies, which posthumously earned him the Vir Chakra.
It has been two decades since the dreaded conflict which claimed the lives of Capt. Thapar and over 500 other soldiers from the Indian Army who fought in the barren and unforgiving heights of Kargil. Today, his father Colonel Thapar, a retired army officer from the Armoured Corps lives a quiet life, reading, writing, and managing the petrol pump constructed in memory of his son.
The 20th anniversary of the conflict brought back vivid memories of his son prompting him to pen down his thoughts, writing a book describing his son as he knew him.
Speaking about what inspired him to write a book about his son, Col. Thapar said, “The disastrous situation in Kargil was restored by the unmatched courage and dedication of the young officers and men. With time facts tend to get distorted, hence, there was need for writing a book chronicling their heroic exploits.”
The book has been authored by Col. Thapar after conducting extensive research. He had traveled to the former battlegrounds of Kargil over twenty times and to Knoll sixteen times. Col. Thapar has been to 2 Raj Rif many times and met all the Jawans and Jcos who fought in the brutal military conflicts.
The book has been co-authored by Neha Dwivedi, who lost her father in the same war. “It is a book written from the heart and is aimed at all those who love India, particularly the youth who will bear the torch.”
“My son Vijyant was a tenacious and heroic young officer who fell in the battle. Just 22-years-old, was a highly motivated, patriotic officer, for whom the nation came first, always and every time. My son put his country above all, his paltan next and himself nowhere except in the lead of the objective.
The stories of such valour and dedication need to be told and retold. My son was a fourth-generation army officer and the military ethos ran in his blood,” said the former army officer and father of the gallant Capt. Vijayant Thapar about his son.
When asked about the emotional struggle he faced while writing about his son, Col. Thapar said, “The main challenge for Neha and I while writing this book was to relive our pain once again. The editors wanted more details of our life’s most painful moments.
The drafts were corrected numerous times and each time our wounds opened up again and we had to relive our pains, our failings. Each day we were left questioning ourselves about what more we could have done. ”
(The e-copy of the Book is available on amazon; the print edition will be available next month)
You may purchase Vijayant at Kargil on amazon: https://www.amazon.in/dp/B088MBPC9L/ref=sr_1_2?crid=3P3DLEWMYFAY0&dchild=1&keywords=vijyant+at+kargil&qid=1589521214&sprefix=vijyant+,aps,403&sr=8-2