Bravery Embodied: The Tale of Second Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal
Second Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal was born to a family in Pune, Maharashtra, with a long legacy of serving the Indian Army for generations. Leitmotif of Second Lieutenant Khetarpal’s life had displayed his unwavering dedication while confronting the enemy against their malicious intents in every war field and returning home with a glorious victory.
16th December 1971, 8:00 a.m. – Second Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal instantly moved along with his troops to reinforce the B squadron with A squadron when Pakistani warriors seeming mightier at the instance, were counter-attacking at Jarpal.
During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, Second Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal’s 17 Poona Horse was ordered to construct a bridge across the River Basantar. The bridge helped the tanks to pass to fight against the Pakistani soldiers. The Pakistani soldiers had outnumbered the Indian soldiers, and therefore, the commander of the Indian forces requested aid and help from Second Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal and his troops, who were nearby. When his troops got the message, Khetarpal and his force wasted little time before facing the enemy.
The second Lieutenant and his troops faced strong attacks while crossing River Basantar. At this point, Khetarpal wisely took the situation in hand and started to answer the enemies with his Tank and make them give up on gun machinery at gunpoint.
There was an uninterrupted shower of firing by Second Lieutenant Khetarpal until he witnessed the enemy forces step back on exhaustion of their artillery and defense mechanism. He persistently started chasing these tanks and even broke apart one singlehandedly.
Soon the enemy forces managed to recover with a squadron of armor, and this time, they targeted mainly the sector held by Second Lieutenant Khetarpal and two other tanks.
An engaged battle of unceasing firing from the tanks led to immense damage to 10 enemy tanks. But by this time, the Second lieutenant’s Tank was also deeply damaged, and he was highly injured. Second Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal, never dismayed by his injuries, decided to incessantly answer the enemy forces marching toward them. He gallantly caused the loss of another enemy tank, but sadly his Tank could not deal with the second hit, which led to his valiant demise.
The second Lieutenant successfully foiled all the enemy advancements and ruined their plans to break through. The last words he had heard from his mother were, “Fight like a lion and don’t come back a coward”. He remained a man of his word and showed exemplary dedication towards his motherland until his last breath. His invincible moves on the battlefield have left an unforgettable mark on the history of the Indian Army and have laid down an irreplaceable example in front of the youth of India.
To salute his mettle, he was awarded the highest military decoration, the ParamVir Chakra, for displaying indomitable courage and answering the enemy troops with his consistently firing Tank. To this day, he remains one of the great sons Indian soil has ever produced.
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