‘The battle of Waterloo was won on the fields of Eton’ is a famous British Army quote after they trounced a much stronger French army. After the battle of Kargil, especially with Major KPR Hari’s action, leading his company of 1 Bihar Regiment to capture Jubar Top, and also gallantry actions of many young officers of Indian Army during the battle of Kargil, I was tempted to rewrite the quote as “The battle of Kargil was won on the fields of Khadakwasla.”
When we moved in to the National Defence Academy (NDA), Khadakwasla, in our second semester, Hari was there to welcome us to the E Squadron (61st Course) in June 1979. In those days, E Squadron believed more in moulding youngsters into ‘men of steel.’ That obviously meant rigorous Physical Training (PT) by day and by night, and practising heavily for cross-country, boxing and sports competions – football, hockey and basketball. Our Squadron earned the nickname of ‘PT Squadron.’
In all the events that E Squadron excelled in, Cadet Hari was the champion. His agility and skill was proven beyond doubt and we ended winning the Commandant’s Banner as Champion Squadron in 1979.
Hari always sported his bright smile – characterised by a broken incisor – a loss he suffered during a boxing bout. We used to undertake cycling tours around Khadakwasla (obviously the unofficial ones) to Sinhagarh Fort, Munshi Dam and Panshet Dam.
Nothing could deter Hari during our NDA days, whatever difficulty he faced, he always took it with a smile. It appeared that neither success nor failure had any impact on him – he kept going ahead, without ever looking behind. The very same quality he carried with him during his service as an officer.
Hari was commissioned in to Bihar Regiment – Infantry – and I to the Regiment of Artillery. We never served together during our Army days, but did meet many times, especially while travelling to our hometowns in Kerala from Delhi.
While I was posted at the Military Intelligence Directorate during the Kargil war of 1999, situation (sitrep) of 06 July caught my eye. It described action of Major KPR Hari and 1 Bihar in capturing Jubar Top. I was not surprised – Hari had it in him and he would have done it that way only.
The sitrep said that Hari, disregarding his own personal safety crawled through the boulders over a stiff cliff and destroyed the enemy Heavy Machine Gun bunker and killed two enemy personnel. I knew his gallant act would be recognised and glorified.
Major KPR Hari was awarded Vir Chakra – a well deserved honour – for his gallant action. His citation read:-
“On 06 July 1999, Major KPR Hari attacked Jubar Top, an enemy stronghold at a height of 16,800 feet Batalik Sector of Jammu and Kashmir.
Major KPR Hari launched a two pronged attack under heavy enemy artillery and small arm fire. He crawled through the boulders over a teep cliff leading towards Jubar Top avoiding enemy fire. He reached 50 meters short of the enemy bunker and in a swift and bold manoeuvre closed in with the enemy bunker along with six soldiers continously firing and lobbing grenades.
Major KPR Hari with utter disregard for personal safety destroyed the enemy Heavy Machine Gun bunker and killed two enemy personnel who were engaging the advancing troops. The enemy sensing immediate capture withdrew leaving huge quantity of arms, ammunition and equipment. The post was captured at 0500 hours without any casualty. Major KPR Hari then along with another officer kept the momentum of attack and captured Jubar Top by 1800 hours.
Major KPR Hari displayed initiative, bold action, indomitable courage, strong determination and exceptional leadership in the face of extreme danger from the enemy.”
After I bid goodbye to Indian Army and moved to Canada, I met Hari only once. That was during our course-mate Commander Vinod Kumar’s (Indian Navy) daughter’s wedding in December 2015. He was as cheerful and smiling as he always was.
Last year I heard the sad news that Hari was battling pancreatic cancer. I thought that he will beat this ordeal too. He fought like a good boxer of E Squadron, but breathed his last on 17 August 2018. I am sure he will now be smiling and thanking his Creator for a great meaningful life that the God had bestowed on him.
“Soldier, rest! thy warfare o’er,
Sleep the sleep that knows not breaking;
Dream of battled fields no more,
Days of danger, nights of waking.” Sir Walter Scott, Scottish author and playwright