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January 26, 2008 / lazybug

Remembering 2nd Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal

“No Sir, I will not abandon my tank. My gun is still working and I will get these bastards.”

On the occasion of India’s republic day, let me share with you one of the most endearing acts of bravado that, every time I read it, fills me with a sense of pride that is unmatched. The hero I am talking about is 2nd Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal, who was awarded India’s highest wartime gallantry medal, The Param Vir Chakra, posthumously. He was 22 years old.

The story below narrates what happened in Pakistan when Arun Kherapal’s father, Brigadier M.L. Khetarpal, visited the country; almost 30 years after his son achieved martyrdom in the Shakargarh Sector during the 1971 war.2nd Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal

The Commander of the Pakistan tank battalion is said to have met the Indian battalion commander after the battle and make enquiries about 2nd Lieutenant Khetarpal’s tank since he was very impressed with the gallantry of 2nd Lieutenant Khetarpal. In 2001 Arun’s Father decided to go on a visit to Pakistan to see his ancestral place. A Pakistani brigadier named Khawja Mohammad Naser, acted as a host & took proper care of Mr M L Khetarpal. Just a fortnight before his departure to India, Mr Khetarpal got aware of his host’s past. Major Nasir like a true soldier mentioned what happened on that faithfull day between him & Arun in the following words “‘Sir there is something that I wanted to tell you for many years but I did not know how to get through to you. Finallyfate has intervened and sent you to me as an honoured guest. . However on that fateful day, your son and I were soldiers, unknown to one another, fighting for the respect and safety of our respective countries. I regret to tell you that your son died in my hands. Arun’s courage was exemplary and he moved his tank with fearless courage and daring, totally unconcerned about his safety. Tank casualties were very high till finally there were just two of us left facing one another. We both fired simultaneously… it was destined that I was to live and he was to die.

It is only later that I got to know how young he was and who he was. We are trained to fight and kill without mercy or remorse. We do in war what we have to without thinking too much about it. However we are humans too and sometimes war takes a personal turn and makes an impact on the inner self.”

Though M L khetarpal didn’t say anything, but when they left they took photographs and even mentioned it was him who wanted to meet him personally after the war, but Mr Khetarpal was not interested. However after reaching Delhi, Mr Khetarpal, received the photograph with the words of bravery from Major Nasir.

The full account of 2nd Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal’s Battle of Basantsar is available here on the Indian Army’s website. Read it.

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19 Comments

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  1. aalasanthosh / Jan 26 2008 5:36 pm

    Happy Republic Day Akhil. Yes, it is because of the bravery and unfailing patriotism of countless young and brave soldiers of India that we still live in peace.

  2. vinay / Jan 26 2008 5:42 pm

    Nice post. May his soul rest in peace.
    Really a touching episode.

  3. Arul / Jan 26 2008 7:18 pm

    Freedom is never free – it always comes at a heavy price. And these are the heroes who give their lives for us. We live in comfort and luxury of our homes because of these brave soldiers! Very proud of our Indian soldiers, they are THE BEST!!

  4. Liju Philip / Jan 27 2008 3:59 am

    Its because of people like Arun Khetarpal, that we go to bed safely every night. More power to such men.

  5. lazybug / Jan 27 2008 1:10 pm

    Thank you for those wonderful comments guys. India will never run short of such legends.

  6. Sridevi / Jan 27 2008 6:04 pm

    Good post, Akhil! – An appropriate post reiterating the significance of the day! A true tribute to Arun Khetarpal for whom you really feel a sense of pride!

  7. pramodasanthi / Jan 28 2008 7:08 am

    This is the very good post Akhil! Every Indian should find the best way at least on the special occasions like this, to honour those guarding our borders and those who maintain all the people’s security in the country like the great Arun Khetarpal.

  8. lazybug / Jan 28 2008 4:19 pm

    Thank you Sridevi and Pramodasanthi.

  9. Manpreet / Jun 2 2008 4:17 pm

    Thanks for sharing. Very touching and so human.

  10. Varun / Aug 8 2008 5:48 pm

    he is my true hero. my dad’s also in the army and lemme tell u i’v heard so much from him, and none of it ever comes out… look what they’ve done for this country. and look what our fuckin politicians are doing… it’s very painful to see a handful of good men dyin for our country while a host of others squander away her pride… the kohima war memorial has this written,

    “when u go home,
    tell them of us and say,
    for your tomorrow we gave our today”

  11. TUSHAR / Nov 14 2008 2:05 pm

    2nd Lt Arun Khetarpal……

    whenever I hear or think of the name ….i always wonder about the ammount of courage he had…..he is an example for all of us…..what he did can not be matched by us but at least we can try…..
    JAI HIND ..JAI JAWAN…

  12. Agha / Jan 21 2009 3:12 pm
  13. shubham manchanda / Sep 16 2009 8:38 am

    really brave of him, really feels proud to be of his family as my grandfather M.C. KHETARPAL is relatd to him, his cousin he is.. may his soul rest in peace… hats off to all d defence personnels as due to thm, v sleep in peace.only regret i cudnt join MDA…

    • Agha H Amin / Sep 17 2009 2:10 pm

      bravery has no religion . i believe he was from pre partition sargodha disttrict if KC Praval is to be believed
      my research is that he was the man who changed the course of that battle apart from hoshiar singh cheema

    • soumi m prashant / Jun 4 2014 7:31 pm

      Hey Shubham u seem to know arun khetarpal’s family. Can u plz convey my thanks to them for their great son. M indebted to arun for the supreme sacrifice he made. In case i can hav his siblings contact no. It will be great. Anyways thanks you for coming up this post. Arun is my hero will tell storie oh bravery to my children.

  14. M.Farooq Hayat / Oct 12 2009 5:41 pm

    i salute such mothers who give birth to such brave and unflinching sons, even so that he was an enemy but a brave enemy does honour to us. i pray that he be awarded a place in gods paradise for what he did just becoz he was called upon to do it.

  15. Satish Shanbhag / Nov 21 2009 5:11 am

    Dear All

    Iam proud of India!!!
    A country where a young man of 21 years sacrificed his life without a second thought for his own safety can never be defeated!!! After reading the article anyone with a heart will find that his eyes have turned misty.I salute this modern day ‘yodha’!!!

    It is truly said ” war is created by politicians ,fought by soldiers and suffered by families”

    Jai Hind!!!

  16. Arulpriya / Dec 7 2009 10:04 am

    Dear all

    No other country in the world is as best and brave as INDIA. But there is more vacancy in Indian army.
    He must be a great soul. Whenever I hear or think of his name, I surprised at his courage. today we are sleeping peacefully because they gave their today.We must proud to be an Indian and be a SOLDIER………………………………

  17. Lovish / Apr 14 2011 8:14 pm

    As is rightly said ‘There are never any victors in war. At the end of the day all lose’. Only the families of such brave souls are left to suffer.
    I salute Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal and several others like him for the exemplary shows of their love towards their nation. Although he met his death fighting at a very young age of 21 but he left for us his qualities of wisdom, values and character. He will be always remembered as a national hero.
    May his soul rest in peace.

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