Flag Day special: 2nd Lt Arun Khetarpal fought to his death refusing to concede an inch to Pakistan (video)
On the occasion of the Armed Forces Flag Day, the History channel has brought alive the story of the youngest recipient of the Param Vir Chakra, 2nd Lt. Arun Khetarpal.
During the Battle of Basantar, 21 year old Arun single handedly destroyed many Pakistani tanks and denied the enemy entry into the Indian soil.
Arun Khetrapal was born in Pune, into a family of warriors, the lineage starting with his great grandfather who had fought against the British. His father Brigadier M L Khetrapal was with the Corps of Engineers.
A graduate of the National Defense Academy and the Indian Military Academy, he was commissioned in the 17 Poona Horse, an armoured regiment in the Armoured Corps of the Indian Army.
During the1971 Indo-Pak war, Pakistan planned to get a hold on Shakargarh area, which would have enabled it to cut off Jammu and Kashmir from the rest of India. The Indian armed forces defended it successfully despite being outnumbered in what came to be known as the Battle of Basantar.
Having gained control over area around River Basantar, the Indian Army Engineers were busy clearing the landmines to pave way for the tanks. But on their coming under attack, the 17 Poona Horse decided to push ahead despite the risks of remaining landmines.
Though successful in warding off the enemy initially, the Indian braves soon came under enemy counter attack and were heavily outnumbered. The Commander of ‘B’ Squadron of 17 Poona Horse sent in request for support which was answered by 2nd Lieutenant Arun Khetrapal.
All of 21, Arun Khetrapal commandeered his troops in two tanks, and despite losing one of them, managed to clear all enemy held positions. On reaching the ‘B’ Squadron position, he pursued and further destroyed one of the retreating enemy tanks.
Persuaded to get back to position, he had to, with two other tank commanders, face a quick counterattack by an entire Pakistani armoured squadron.
The three tank commanders together destroyed 10 enemy tanks, with Khetrapal taking care of four of them. Soon, one of the Indian tanks was destroyed and the other halted because of a mechanical snag.
Khetrapal’s tank was hit and was caught in flames too. On being ordered to abandon his tank, he told his commander, ‘No Sir, I will not abandon my tank. My gun is still working and I will get these bastards.’
He continued to destroy the other enemy tanks and while he took care of the last one, was hit for the second time, and with that, lost his life.
Second Lieutenant Arun Khetrapal fought to his death refusing to concede an inch to the enemy.
For his gallantry in the face of the enemy, he was awarded the Param Veer Chakra posthumously.
The video has gone viral on Facebook, gaining more than 360000 views over the last day.