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SOURCE: INDIA TODAY

It was May 17, 1993. I was a 35-year-old army major deployed with my unit, the 5/11 Gorkha Rifles, in Uri (in Kashmir) and out on a patrol. We came under heavy cross-border fire from Pakistan. A bullet hit me on my ankle and a piece of shrapnel grazed my right hand. I was fortunately wearing a canvas anklet, which bore the brunt of the bullet, but it penetrated my ankle and shattered it. I was taken to the 92 Base Hospital in Srinagar where doctors did a fine job of reconstructing my hand and ankle.

As a young officer in the army, my biggest worry was becoming what we call a ‘low medical category’. The injury came as a dampener because I was worried about missing out on my senior command course in Mhow (in Madhya Pradesh) that year. The course was mandatory to qualify for the higher command course (essential for rising in the army). I remember being told that my career in the army was over.

But over time, I had started walking with a crutch. I took a month’s sick leave and reported back to the 92 Base Hospital, where I was eventually declared ‘Shape 1’. But the next problem was where I would be posted. I was told I would be posted back to my regimental centre in Lucknow. The CO (commanding officer) of my unit in Uri informed that he was okay keeping me in the unit if the Military Secretary branch agreed. I, of course, could not go back to the post along the LoC (Line of Control). My ankle gradually recovered while I was in the unit.

I have never looked back on my past life. And there have been numerous life-changing moments. And this was one of them. But I have taken every setback in my stride. In my life, I have let things happen the way they were happening.