Saturday, July 20, 2024

1971 war hero from Mumbai, Maj Vetri Nathan gets memorial at his birthplace

In a befitting tribute, 1971 India-Pakistan war hero Major Vetri Nathan, hailing from Mumbai, has been honoured with a memorial in Colaba, an official said here on Wednesday.

Joining the Indian Army at the age of 21, the officer belonged to 11 Gorkha Rifles regiment and already has a road named after him as ‘Major Vetri Nathan Marg’.

At the height of the war in December 1971, Major Nathan fought gallantly and successfully completed his special mission against the enemy, before making the supreme sacrifice in the Kargil sector.

Aged just 30 when he was martyred, Major Nathan was conferred the Vir Chakra posthumously for his brave deeds.

At the memorial inauguration, Lieutenant General H.S. Kahlon, GOC of MG and G Area, felicitated the family members of the braveheart in the presence of several army personnel and war veterans, civilian dignitaries, NCC cadets and Army Public School students.

He urged the people in the armed forces to draw inspiration from the life of Major Nathan and imbibe the qualities of courage and selfless devotion to duty.

During the 1971 war, Major Nathan’s Battalion 2/11 GR was deployed in the challenging Kargil sector, which had a series of hills along the Line of Control that were of strategic importance for the military.

One such position was Point 13620 dominating the Srinagar-Leh Highway that was under the control of the Pakistani forces.

India had captured this Point in the 1965 war, but had to return it as part of the Tashkent Agreement of January 10, 1966.

As the hill Point under control of the enemy posed a serious threat to the Indian troops’ movement on the highway, it was imperative to dislodge the Pakistanis from there.

This task was assigned to the young Major Nathan and his dedicated team, who launched an attack on December 6, 1971.

Displaying exemplary courage and leadership skills, Major Nathan managed to capture a post, known as ‘Black Rocks’, and as they advanced towards Point 13620, they encountered the enemy’s medium machine-gun post at the top.

Major Nathan concluded that the enemy post had to be neutralised at any cost, and without regard for his personal safety, he took a handheld rocket launcher, stood up and aimed to destroy the enemy bunker.

As he shot off the rocket which knocked off the MMG bunker, he was shot in the head by an enemy bullet and was martyred.

Enraged by this, the aggressive Gorkha Regiment troops unsheathed their ‘Khukris’ and pounced on the enemy soldiers, eliminating many before the survivors were forced to evacuate and flee all the posts before dawn the next day, and the mission was successfully completed.

Acknowledging Major Nathan’s valour and successful mission, the post was named a ‘Vetri Post’ in his honour and a memorial was erected there.

“Bravehearts like Major Nathan are not limited to a house, family or society but they are the pride of the state and the nation,” said Lt. Gen. Kahlon, dedicating the memorial for the general public.

(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: q.najmi@ians.in)

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