Combat times ..
Capt Vikramjit motioned frantically “Lt Atre ko bulao”. He was lying flat on his belly. He crawled into the small clearing in the thicket of trees, and peered through the binoculars.
Two bearded men constantly looked out of the second floor window of a wood-and-stone bungalow, as if waiting for something. They were armed with modern assault rifles and hand grenades. One of them turned and beckoned somebody from the back. Together, the three men heaved the sack out the window. It hit the ground with a sickening thud.
“Shit” Vik muttered through the clenched teeth. Lt Atre tapped him on the shoulder. Immediately, he began adjusting the younger man’s bullet-proof vest.
“We have spotted six civilians inside till now, three men and three teenagers. Till now, I’ve counted four terrorists, but there could be more …” Vik trailed, as he fished out a spare pistol and attached it to the holder fastened to Atre’s belt.
Finally, Vik stood before Atre – both men looked into each other’s eye.
“One we bomb the house and achieve 100% fatality. Two we go in and indulge them in combat; we get a chance to rescue the civilians. What do you think?”. He asked his junior officer and buddy since Academy days.
Atre turned to the six men watching the exchange between the two officers. “Bhai log, kya bolte ho? Saab, aap batao?” He asked his Subedar (JCO), a burly gentleman with half an ear blown away.
“Jayenge saab”, the Subedar replied without missing a beat. Vik stared at each man in the dark-green huddle they made, under the massive Chinar tree. Calmly, he briefed his men about the plan of action and positioning, and checked each man’s bullet proof, helmet and ammunition.
The men closed their eyes and remembered their Gods. The men took their initial positions as Vik had ordered. He jerked his arm at them, and the men disappeared into the forest to circle the bungalow. Vik remained standing at the spot where the eight me had been a minute ago. He had decided to lead, attacking the north wing of the building where he had spotted the maximum activity. He looked up at the sky, for it had begun to snow.
They say when a person is faced with a life-and-death situation, all dormant senses of the body are set in motion, strengthening periphery vision, body reflexes and slowing time. Vik felt the sweat collecting between his shoulder blades. His heart rate had slowed. He could feel every single frozen breath entering his nostrils, leading to his nostrils, leading to his lungs and the ensuing blood that rushed through his heart. He swung his weapon to the front, and it dangled over his chest. He clutched a pistol in his hand. He frowned at the clear garden patch ahead of him. and prepared to run across the longest six point five meters patch that he had ever run.
He runs along with his buddy, in a zig zag pattern and the flash of a muzzle firing at him catches him as he bounds against the wall of the building. Distracting the terrorists enough for the party under Atre to enter from the rear. Vik peers from the window to see Atre flagging him in. He jumps inside and together they start clearing one room at a time.
Heavy gun fight ensues. It lasts for nearly an hour .. and then a lull and quiet. The four terrorists lay sprawled on the floor, a minor injury to one of the civilians and a gun shot wound to Vik.
Another day in the posts in J&K …
Was Vik doing ‘just a job’ .. the anxiety of walking into a room full of Board of Directors is the same as walking into a clear patch of grass exposing yourself to a spray of bullets. If you were asked to be Vik even once in your lifetime, how much would you like to be paid? Our apathy and lack of emotion/ understanding is shameful. The culture of comparing valour, compassion and sacrifice to a few thousand bucks is ridiculous. So involved in our lives, that nothing affects us. Imagine if every young man starts thinking like that .. and then you have the Mr. Bhagats questioning their valour? Ridiculous right?
This is a true story of Capt Vikramjit Singh and Lt Atre.