Param Vir Chakra (PVC ) Second Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal

Second Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal had been a heroic personality of the Indian Army who has been remembered for his prominent bravery and actions done in the service of motherland. He was the one of the bravados who received the India’s highest military decoration; the Param Vir Chakra. 2nd Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal was awarded with his highest gallantry award, posthumously. He was the son of Lt Col (later Brigadier); M.L Khetarpal who was a Corps of Engineers Officer in the Indian Army. Arun Khetarpal was born on October 14th 1950 in Pune Maharashtra. Value of Service was already running into his blood since his whole family remarked a long history of military services. He attended the Lawrence School in Sanawar and since beginning he proved himself a prominent student as well as a sportsman, he used to be the school prefect.

Arun Khetarpal joined the National Defence Academy in June 1967 where he was commissioned in Foxtrot Squadron as the Squadron Cadet Captain of the 38TH Course. Eventually in June 1971, he joined the Indian Military Academy and was selected in the 17 Poona Horse. This brave man had earned respect and compassion for his gallantry actions. For his eminent action the parade ground at NDA was named the Khetarpal Ground also the auditorium and one of the main gates figured his name; as a tribute to this great solider. 2nd Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal died in the battle of Basantar in Barapind Shakargarh sector on 16th December 1971.

Battle of Basantar

It was during the war of Bangladesh when the 47th Infantry Brigade of the Indian Army was commissioned to command the 17 Poona Horse. The Shakargarh Sector in the Battle of Basantar was the central area that the 47th Brigade was looking after. Now, the prime task for the 47th Brigade was to establish a bridgehead across the River Basantar. However, the place was exclusively mined and fragile that was somehow blocking the deployment of the tanks of the 17 Poona Horse and making the engineers working really hard in clearing the mines but at last the brigade managed to accomplish its target. Meanwhile on December 15th 1971 when the work was in progress the Indian troops were reported about the sudden suspicious activity of the enemy troops that made them immediately in need for armour support. It was now a crucial situation for the 17 Poona Horse that led them to decide upon pushing through the mine-field. By the rise of next day the regiment was successful in linking up the armour and the infantry at the brigade-head.

On December 16th 1971, the Pakistani troops attempted their first counter-attack at the hub of the ‘B’ Squadron 17 Poona Horse at Jarpal. The commander of the squadron immediately asked for urgent assistance. At that time Second Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal was commissioned in the ‘A’ Squadron quickly with his troop came forward to help the ‘B’ squadron. The first counter attack from the Pakistani troop was faced with utmost courage and tact’s by the Indian troops. But while crossing the Basantar River the Indian troops along with Arun Khetarpal came into a disastrous fire but the with his troop he was able to surpass the attack from the enemy.

2nd Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal was positioned in his tank and captured few of the enemy weapons crews and infantry at gunpoint. The commander of the second tank was killed in the attack now it was Arun Khetarpal all alone who had to take the charge in his hands thus he continued to encounter the attack from the Pakistani troops until he overpowered the enemy garrison. This inspired Lieutenant Khetarpal to gun down a Pakistani tank while battling. Nevertheless, the enemy was quite strong and they reintegrated for further attacks.

In the tank battle almost ten enemy tanks were hit and completely destroyed out of which four tanks were trashed by Arun Khetarpal. His tank caught fire but Lieutenant Khetarpal refused to abandon from his tank and also from the battle field. His determination and leadership led him to destroy even the one last tank of the enemy. He was further captured by Capt. Khawaja Mohamad Naser. When his tank was burning Lieutenant Khetarpal had a radio communication with his senior officer in which he simply refused to abandon his tank and pledged to shoot down every single enemy by his gun.

He then decided to destroy all the remaining tanks, the last tank was just 100 metres away when Arun shot it but unfortunately at the same time his tank got shot for the second time that brought the final moment for Second Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal. He finally succumbed to his injuries. Second Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal’s body was cremated on December 17th near the Samba District and the ashes were sent to his family who was completely unlearned about Arun’s death till December 26th.To give a tribute to his brave-heart man his tank namely Famagusta Jx 202 and was restored after the battle and as a tribute was kept safe for display in the Armoured Corps Centre And School Ahmednagar.

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