Army Chief, General Dalbir Singh Suhag, And HRD Minister, Smriti Irani, Release Comic Book Series Veergatha On 5 Param Vir Chakra Awardees On The Eve Of 67th Republic Day 2016

General Dalbir Singh with Smriti Irani releasing five
illustrated books for Children on Param Vir Chakra Awardees
in New Delhi on the eve of Republic Day
Shailesh Kumar
New Delhi, 25 January 2016
HRD Minister, Smriti Irani, urged General Dalbir Singh, Chief of Army Staff, to explore if Ex-Servicemen can be engaged in imparting Physical Training and inculcating stories of war heroes to school children. “Publication of Veergatha or brave soldiers’ stories must not to be limited to National Book Trust; NCERT and CBSE should include the brave soldier’s stories”, she emphasized while launching comic books’ series on 5 Param Vir Chakra awardees namely Major Shaitan Singh, CQHS Abdul Hamid, Second Lieutenant Arun Khetrapal, Major Somnath Sharma and Captain Manoj Kumar Pandey.  “It will be our endeavour in nation building to assure the HRD Minister that we will carry it forward and take it to the last mile”, General Dalbir Singh said during the launch of the books, written by Journalist Gaurav Sawant.

HRD Minister Smriti Irani and General Dalbir Singh felicitating
Rasooli Devi, the widow of Paramveer Chakra awardee and
hero of 1965 war, Havildar Abdul Hamid in New Delhi 
On the occasion, Chief of Army Staff, General Dalbir Singh Suhag narrated the stories of 5 Param Vir Chakra awardees. The highest war time military honour by far is conferred to 21 soldiers of India for the gallant bravery or some daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self sacrifice in the face of the enemy, whether on land, at sea or in the air.

“Imagine people reading about Major Somnath Sharma that with just handful people less than 100 of them held of quite a few thousands of Pakistani raiders and did not let them capture the airfield of Srinagar and held on until the last to make sure airfield is safe until our additional troops land up. And the story changed and they all were pushed back”, narrates General Dalbir Singh.


Relatives of 5 Param Vir Chakra Awardees sitting along with
author Gaurav Sawant
Major Somnath Sharma was born on 31 Janurary 1923 at Dadh in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh. His father Major General Amarnath Sharma was a military officer. When Major Somnath Sharma joined the war with Pakistanis as they invaded Kashmir in 1947, his one band was in plaster. With plaster wrapped around his hand, he helped his troops by arming the weapons.

His last words, a radio message- I shall not withdraw an inch but will fight to our last man and last round- has set a rare example in Indian military lore. He is the first recipient of Param Vir Chakra, country’s highest gallantry award.

“Imagine people reading Major Shaitan Singh’s story of just 120 men holding on Rezang La and fighting more than five thousand Chinese troops till the end... till last breath”. Major Shaitan Singh was born on 1 December 1924 in the village Banasar, Jodhpur, Rajasthan. He inherited his father Lieutenant Colonel, Hem Singhji gallantry. His mother was Smt. Jawahar Kanwar. He served the Indian Army as a Major of the 13th Battalion of the Kumaon Regiment. For his gallantry in the India-China war, he was awarded the Param Vir Chakra, the highest wartime gallantry medal, posthumously.

Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag addressing the gathering during
book launch as Smriti Irani looks on
“Story of CQMH Abdul Hamid whose RCL gun created graveyard of tanks”, recalls General Dalbir Singh. Company Quarter-Master Havildar Abdul Hamid was born on 1 July 1933 at village Dhamupur of Ghazipur district of Uttar Pradesh. He was enrolled in the 4 Grenadiers on 27 December 1954. During the 1965 Indo-Pak war, he exhibited exceptional bravery and personal courage as commander of a RCL gun detachment and put up a gallant fight. He was posthumously awarded the highest war time gallantry medal, Param Vir Chakra, for his sustained act of bravery and disregard for personal safety.

Second Lieutenant Arun Khetrapal was born on 14 October 1950 in Pune, Maharashtra. He was the son of Brigadier ML Khetrapal. He was commissioned into the 17 Poona Horse on 13 June 1971. During the 1971 Indo-Pak war, he fought fearlessly. For his conspicuous gallantry in the face of the enemy, Second Lieutenant Arun Khetrapal was posthumously honoured with the highest wartime gallantry medal, Param Vir Chakra. “Second Lt. Arun Khetrapal turned the tides with thrilling victory under his gallant bravery”, General Dalbir Singh enthralled the audience at Air Force Auditorium in Subroto Park. “General Dalbir Singh has mentioned that Arun Khetrapal ji was his senior in NDA. Today, how many children sitting here would know the contribution of Arun Khetrapal; it was a question bothering us. Now, these questions are finally answered today in the form of Veergatha”, said Smriti Irani while emphasizing need for more such books.

Captain Manoj Kumar Pandey was born on 25 June 1975, to Gopichand Pandey and Mohini Pandey. His family is from a small village called Rudha at Sitapur district, Uttar Pradesh. He joined the Indian Army and was commissioned into 1/11 Gorkha Rifles in 1997.

Veergatha: Set of 5 book series on Param Vir Chakra awardees released on the eve of 67th Rebublic Day
During the Kargil War in 1999, the 1/11 Gorkha Rifles was moved to participate in Operation Vijay. Captain Pandey fought a heroic battle in capturing Khalubar in July 1999. For his demonstration of bravery and leadership, he was awarded posthumously with the nation’s highest honour for gallantry, the Param Vir Chakra. “So was the story of Manoj Pandey, hero of Kargil War. Likewise there are 21 of them and the series of Veergathas will be coming out and there will be inspiration for younger generation”, informed Army Chief.

On the occasion, Army Chief also praised Smriti Irani’s initiative of Seemadarshan, “I am also pleased to inform that a very good initiative taken by Minister HRD, is mission Seemadarshan; and children of Kendriya Vidhyalas, Navodaya Vidhyalas, some children have already visited the forward areas; Stayed on the border for one week with our troops on the Line of Actual Control and more will be visiting. I think these are the initiatives that will inspire them not only join armed forces but imbibe and nurture the idea of dedication to the nation”.

“It is been 45 years when my brother (Arun Khetrapal) martyred taking on the enemy at the young age of just 21 years. Now Government has come out with these books. We welcome it. It will inspire the young”, said Mukesh Khetrapal, brother of Param Vir Second Lt. Arun Khetrapal.

Army Chief, General Dalbir Singh Suhag, And HRD Minister, Smriti Irani, Release Comic Book Series Veergatha On 5 Param Vir Chakra Awardees On The Eve Of 67th Republic Day 2016 Army Chief, General Dalbir Singh Suhag, And HRD Minister, Smriti Irani, Release Comic Book Series Veergatha On 5 Param Vir Chakra Awardees On The Eve Of 67th Republic Day 2016 Reviewed by Shailesh Kumar on 12:03:00 AM Rating: 5
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