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Captain Vijyant Thapar
File:Captain vijyant thapar.jpg
Nickname Robin
Born (1976-12-26)December 26, 1976
Died June 29, 1999(1999-06-29) (aged 22)
Place of birth Nangal
Place of death Dras Kargil J&K
Service/branch Indian Army
Years of service 6 months
Unit 2 Rajputana Rifles
Battles/wars Kargil War(Battle of Tololing, Three Pimples & Knoll, Kupwara Counter Terrorist Operations)
Awards Vir Chakra (posthumous)

Captain Vijyant Thapar (Dec 26,1976– June 29, 1999) was an officer of the Indian Army and belonged to the famous 2 Rajputana Rifles (infantry regiment). He was posthumously awarded India's high military honour the Vir Chakra by the president, for his audacious bravery during the Kargil War. He fell while leading an attack of 2 Rajputana Rifles at Tololing (Black Rocks -KNOLL) during the Kargil War on 29 June 1999. He was 22 years old and was a fourth generation officer in his family. He belongs to Noida, Uttar Pradesh.

ChildhoodEdit

Thapar senior was born on 26 Dec 1976 at Nangal Punjab. His father, Colonel V.N Thapar, was the son and grandson of army officers.Thapar was commissioned in the Maratha Light Infantry, and commanded a battalion of Jammu and Kashmir Rifles. At the time of his birth, his father was posted at Pathankot with an Armoured Brigade. The young child was promptly named 'VIJYANT' after the name of the main battle tank of the army. His uncle was an ace fighter pilot also at Pathankot. Vijyant always wanted to be in the Air Force or Army. His favourite toys were guns. As a child, he would wear his father's peak cap, take his cane and march around like an officer.

He studied at Tara Hall, St. Mary's Academy (Meerut), St Josephs Academy, Army Public School, and finished his schooling from DAV College Chandighar. He graduated from Khalsa College Delhi. His childhood was spent among soldiers, guns and tanks and watching formations of fighters shrieking past a few hundred feet above his house.He was a happy-go-lucky boy full of life and naturally enjoyed outdoor activity. A good swimmer he later took to bodybuilding. He was called 'Robin'. The carefree years of his early life were spent in an ancient mansion at Barrackpore, a military cantonment near Calcutta. The lasting memory of his childhood was Robin running around in the sprawling garden, with his two dogs chasing butterflies, catching dragonflies and doing mock charges on "Langoors" (baboons)-who were actually friendly.

In the evening, he would be in the Paltan (Battalion), watching wrestlers, boxers and other sportsmen. At the age of four or five, he had already fired a pistol sitting in his father's lap. He worked single-mindedly to fulfill his ambition to join the Forces. One day his hard work paid off. He was selected in Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehradun.

Military careerEdit

IMA stay was the best and happiest period of his life. He received a Silver medal for being the second best cadet in the first term. He was also awarded a Gold Medal for water polo. Being full of adventure, he did his parasailing in the mountains of Pithoragarh and then he completed his Para Jumps. After being commissioned on 12 December 1998, he joined 2 Rajputana Rifles at Gwalior. He stayed at Gwalior with the battalion for about a month before they moved to Kupwara Kashmir-the hotbed of terrorists- for counter-insurgency operations.The operations in Kupwara were intense. Here Vijyant was involved in two fierce life and death encounters.

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It was at Kupwara that he met a young child -six years old- Ruksana, whose father had been assassinated in front of the little girl. She was shocked & became withdrawn and mute. It was Vijyant's affection and encouragement that got her to be herself again. Their relationship became a beautifully moving story. Even at the time when death was staring at him, he did not forget the little kid. In his last letter to his parents he asked them to look after her and send Rs 50/ for her every month! While still involved in counter-insurgency tasks, orders were received for the unit to move to Dras on 25 May 1999 to evict the enemy who had occupied Tololing, Tiger Hill, and adjoining heights.

The Kargil WarEdit

Vijyant moved to Dras with his unit under Col. M.B. Ravindernath, commanding officer, and his company commander Major Padmapani Acharya. The battalion was then given the task of capturing Tololing. Earlier attempts to capture Tololing by other units had failed with heavy losses. After the initial assault by Major Mohit Saxena was held up, on the night of 12 June 1999, Capt Vijayant Thapar led his platoon to capture a Pakistani post called Barbad Bunker. A photo in the newspapers shows him sitting with soldiers and captured arms that the fleeing enemy left behind. His letter after the battle describes the scene with dead Pakistani soldiers lying all around and his disappointment at not being able to catch two enemy soldiers alive.

After the victory at Tololing (termed as the turning point of the war), Vijyant was tasked to capture Three Pimples, Knoll in Black Rocks Complex, an ugly mountain sandwiched between Tololing and Tiger Hill. It was a full moon night and the enemy had good visibility. Moreover, this was an impregnable position to capture. The troops of 6 Northern Light Infantry (Pakistan) had all the advantages. Well entrenched in strongly prepared positions, well stocked and with only one narrow 'knife edge' ridge to cover, with precipitous slopes on both sides, and ravines thousands of feet deep, devoid of cover and almost vertical climbs at an altitude of 15000 ft and temperatures of -15°C, it was indeed an impossible mission Image Reference.

However, men of the unit were fired by the success at Tololing and were raging to go. The attack started with a fierce artillery barrage of a hundred guns, with Vijyant's platoon leading. The enemy responded with an equally intense and accurate bombardment on the attacking troops. In this artillery attack, Robin lost some of his men and some more were injured causing the attack to be disrupted. However with his indomitable spirit and tremendous urge to capture Knoll, he got together the remnants of his men and moved through a ravine and rejoined his company. In the melee earlier, Vijyant's platoon had gotten separated from his company. While the exchange of fierce fire was going on, Vijayant reached his company, which had already secured a small foothold on Knoll.

By this time, his company commander Major P. Acharya had been killed. At this news, Vijayant's anger was explosive. He surged ahead along the narrow ridge with his colleague Naik Tilak Singh Image Reference. Both of them started engaging the enemy merely 15 m away. There were two enemy machine guns firing towards them. After about an hour and a half of fierce exchange of bullets and abuses, Vijyant decided that he had to finish the enemy. In a brief lull in firing he rushed ahead to do so but a burst of fire struck him on his head. He fell in the arms of his comrade Naik Tilak Singh. It was after that the men of his company charged and fully captured Knoll. That night had cost the Indian Army 3 officers killed, 3 severely injured, 10 ORs killed, and 42 wounded. All objectives were captured.

For this act of outstanding bravery and his ultimate sacrifice, Capt. Vijyant Thapar was awarded the Vir Chakra a gallantry award by the President of India, K. R. Naraynan, which was received by his 82-year-old grandmother. Image Reference

Shortly before he went into the attack, he wrote a last letter to his parents. This letter epitomises the soldierly virtues of the Indian Army and shows the values of an inspired Indian. This has motivated a whole generation of Indian soldiers and youth alike. He was just 22 years old. Noida, his hometown, gave him a memorable farewell with about hundred thousand people attending his last rites. The Army dedicated to him the helipad at Dras, which is known as Vijyant Helipad.

Vir Chakra CitationEdit

On 28 June 1999 Captain Vijyant Thapar was commanding the Leading platoon of Alfa Company, which was tasked to assault area Knoll in Drass Sector from the north during Operation Vijay While advancing, the platoon was hit by accurate enemy artillery barrage and it suffered heavy casualties. Captain Thapar organized evacuation of the casualties and quickly rallied his shell-shocked platoon for the attack. Personally leading the attack from the Northern face against enemy's Medium Machine Gun fire, which was holding up the Company's assault, he fearlessly charged at the enemy position firing from the hip and throwing grenades. During this act, he was grievously injured in the hand and stomach but continued to advance ordering his men to follow him. Roused by the actions of their young Platoon Commander barely out of the Academy, the platoon charged up the hill against the dominating enemy position. This audacious action unnerved and forced the enemy to abandon a tactically superior position. The officer, however, succumbed to his injuries.

Captain Vijyant Thapar, thus, displayed remarkable cool, raw courage and exemplary valor and made the supreme sacrifice while facing the enemy.

WebsiteEdit

http://www.captainvijyantthapar.com/ is the official website of Captain Vijayant Thapar. All the information of his life can be obtained from this website.

Media ReferencesEdit

  1. NDTV: Great Battles - Kargil
  2. IBN Live
  3. Hindustan Times Article
  4. NDTV Article
  5. Pakistan Times Report
  6. Other Newspaper Reports and Articles

SourcesEdit

  1. A Tribute to a Gallant Kargil Martyr
  2. Vijyant's Last Letter
  3. A Ridge Too Far, By Amrinder Singh (Page numbers 168, 169, 173)
  4. Original letters of Capt Vijyant Thapar handed over by Capt Tomar of the same unit
  5. Hereos of Kargil, By Brig. Gurmeet Kanwal
  6. India Today of July 1999.
  7. http://www.bharatrakshak.com
  8. Gazette Notification Govt. Of India Minisrty of Defence Dtd. 11 March 2000 Sl. No.34.
  9. Destination Noida -Shalini Maitra

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