Patriotism does not come easy, only soldiers pull it off with ease

10 celebs unfolded 10 inspiring stories of martyred soldiers and made all Indians proud

Patriotism does not come easy, only soldiers pull it off with ease

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,” these are the words of late captain Vikram Batra, posthumously awarded with the Param Vir Chakra, India's highest and most prestigious award for valour, for his actions during the 1999 Kargil War in Kashmir between India and Pakistan. If I would have been my old self, I would not have felt anything. But when I read these lines today, I can feel his words.

I must admit that it is a late realisation but a good one.

Honestly so far, my patriotism was limited only to January 26 and August 15 where I feel very proud of my country. Since childhood, I have been listening to the stories of soldiers who laid their lives for our country and then I believed that I know what their sacrifice and patriotism is, until I witnessed Atharva Foundation’s ‘One For All and All For One’ event which took place on January 31, 2018 at Worli’s NSIC dome.

NCC students from various colleges, retired soldiers and families of martyred soldiers filled up the dome and the atmosphere was mesmerising and captivating.

The main catch of the event was 11 awe-inspiring stories of soldiers who without any second thoughts, gave up their lives in a battlefield. All stories were hair-raising and astonishing and every story brought tears to my eyes.

I would like to mention few of them which moved my heart and introduced me to the true meaning of patriotism.

Naib Subedar Chuni Lal (1986-2007) was killed on June 24, 2007 in a militant flush-out operation in Kashmir’s Kupwara sector. Despite being injured and blood loss, he kept on fighting and killed all militants who tried crossing the Line of Control (LoC). He received Vir Chakra, Sena Medal (Gallantry) and Ashok Chakra for valor and courageous action.

Then there was Major Mukund Varadarajan (12 April 1983-25 April 2014) who was an officer in the Rajput Regiment of the Indian Army. In 2014, he was posthumously awarded the Ashok Chakra, India's highest peacetime gallantry award, for killing three terrorists in an encounter at the Shupiyan district of Jammu and Kashmir.

On the day he died, he was accompanied by his buddy sepoy Vikram Singh who took on dreaded terrorist Altaf Vani. While killing Vani, Vardharajan was hit with bullets. His fellow soldiers told his parents that after he killed Vani, he expressed disbelief over the death of Singh and then he collapsed.

While some died for their country, some were lucky enough to escape the jaws of the death. One such was captain Varun Singh and CRPF commandant Chetan Kumar Cheetah.

16 years ago, Captain Varun Singh got critically injured while serving in Kashmir who was awarded Shaurya Chakra in 2001 after fighting against all odds.

CRPF commandant Chetan Kumar Cheetah had slipped into a deep coma two months ago when he was hit by at least nine bullets during a gun battle where he killed three soldiers and one militant in Hajin area of Bandipora district of Kashmir on February 14.

Well, as I had gone to the event as a reporter, I got a chance to speak to Captain Varun Singh and CRPF commandant Chetan Kumar Cheetah in person. Both of them did not once show any regret about their life, in fact, both encouraged youngsters to participate in the Army, Navy or Airforce.

So, that particular evening changed my definition and outlook towards the word ‘patriotism’. Soldiers who laid down their lives were driven by love for their country and a determination to eliminate terrorists.

Now, I have realised one thing that it needs guts to sacrifice your life especially when you are facing a fully loaded AK-47 and handful of dreadful terrorists.

Salute to the martyred soldiers and a bow to their families.

Here's what happened at the event, that memorable evening

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