22-year-old Captain Vijyant Thapar, though lived a short life was one crowded with equal measures of valour, victory and kindness; one that best summed up the adage — “live life king-size”
Capt Vijayant Thapar was born on 26 Dec 1976 in a military family to Colonel V N Thapar and Mrs Tripta Thapar. Having brought up in the army family Capt Thapar always wanted to follow in the footsteps of his father. He pursued his dream and worked hard to get selected in IMA Dehradun. He did exceedingly well in his training and was commissioned into 2 Rajputana Rifles on 12 Dec 1998. Capt Vijayant’s first unit 2 Rajputana Rifles was at Gwalior in 1998. He stayed there for a month before the unit moved to Kashmir to undertake anti-insurgency operations. Here Capt Vijyant was involved in two fierce encounters. While talking to his mother on the telephone he described how he lived through a live encounter in which about thirty bullets were fired at him. Later his unit was tasked to move to Drass in Kargil sector to undertake operations against Pak forces who had occupied Tololing, Tiger Hill, and adjoining heights.
On 11 June 1999, Capt Vijayant’s battalion under the command of Col M.B. Ravindernath, was tasked to capture the feature Tololing. After the initial assault by Major Mohit Saxena was held up, on the night of 12th June’99, Capt Vijayant Thapar led his platoon to capture a Pakistani position called Barbad Bunker which proved crucial for the onward battle for Tololing. During this attack 2 Pakistani soldiers were killed in the melee of fire from sides and behind. Tololing was the first victory for Indian army on 13th June 1999 and was the turning point in the war.
Later on 28 June, 2 Raj Rif was given the task of capturing Three Pimples, Knoll and Lone Hill area. The attack started with Capt Vijayant’s platoon leading on a full moon night along a razor sharp ridge with no cover to offer. There were intense and accurate artillery shelling and heavy enemy fire. He lost some of his dear men and some more were injured causing the attack to be disrupted. However, with his indomitable spirit and strong determination, he moved ahead along with his troops through a ravine to face the enemy. It was a full moon night and was a very difficult position to capture. The troops of enemy’s 6 Northern Light Infantry had all the advantages.
At 8 PM the attack commenced when 120 guns opened fire and rockets lit up the sky. In this heavy exchange of fire 2 Raj Rif moved with Capt Vijayant Thapar leading the attack. Among the first to fall in this battle was Sep Jagmal Singh, Capt Vijayant’s very dear orderly. Finally, Capt Vijayant’s company secured a foothold on Knoll. By this time his company commander Major P Acharya had been killed. Enraged at this news, Capt Vijayant surged ahead with his comrade Naik Tilak Singh. Both of them started engaging the enemy merely 15 meters away. There were three enemy machine guns firing towards them. After about an hour and a half of fierce exchange of fire Capt Vijayant realized that the enemy machine guns had to be silenced to continue their advance towards their objective.
The ridge beyond Knoll was very narrow and sharp and only 2 or 3 soldiers could walk abreast. The danger of getting killed here was very real and therefore Capt Vijayant decided to go ahead himself with Naik Tilak Singh. Capt Vijayant in a daring move surged ahead to do that but was hit by a burst of fire that struck him on his head. He fell in the arms of his comrade Naik Tilak Singh. Capt Vijayant, who was just 22 years old, was martyred but motivated by his daredevilry and leadership, his troops later charged at the enemy and fully captured Knoll. The victory at Knoll on 29 June 1999, is a saga of unmatched bravery, grit and determination.
Capt Vijayant Thapar was awarded, “Vir Chakra” for his gallantry, unyielding fighting spirit and supreme sacrifice.
Though Vijayant Thapar has left the world, he has left a touching legacy which exemplifies his golden heart. In 1999, a six year old Kashmiri girl named, Ruksana had lost her speech when her father Mohammad Akbar was brutally murdered by militants in front of her eyes in her village in Kupwara district of Jammu and Kashmir. In the same year that Ruksana’s father was murdered, Captain Vijayant Thapar, who was posted in the district learnt about Ruksana from her aunt and started loving the child immensely. This beautiful relationship developed into trust and Capt Thapar’s persistent efforts paid off when Ruksana started speaking again. Capt Thapar would contribute a small amount of money each month to the girl’s poor family towards her education.
In the letter that Captain Thapar wrote to his family before the Tololing assault, he passionately declared that if he were to be reincarnated as a human, he would join the Army and fight for the nation again. He also urged his family to donate his organs, and continue to take care of Ruksana. Describing their bond, he requested his family to keep sending her money every month. Colonel Thapar, who is Captain Thapar’s father, stated that although the family lives in Noida, they have honoured the wishes of their late son, stayed in touch with Ruksana, and send her money on an annual basis. In fact, Colonel Thapar had met Ruksana and her mother in 2015 and was happy to see that she was going to school regularly.