SajanSpeaks

Thoughts that originate deep within

Mehta Chowk AWAKENS

Mehta Chowk is a sleepy small town in Punjab, located approximately 70 Kms South East of the Pakistan Border (Dera Baba Nanak) strategically aligned to the much discussed Kartarpur Corridor. It sits 40 kms East of Amritsar on the road to Hoshiarpur.  What does Mehta Chowk have in common with the some residents of Delhi who lost their loved ones in the Uphaar Cinema Tragedy on 13 June 1997? It makes me wonder, well……… there is a lot.

Remembering CAPTAIN MANJINDER SINGH BHINDER of the 61st Cavalry who selflessly saved over 150 lives on that day in 1997, when a raging fire broke out in the Uphaar Cinema in New Delhi. Even after he realised that his four-year-old son, Ruskin and wife Jyot-Roop were engulfed in the inferno and could not be saved, Capt Bhinder jumped back into the fire and took charge like a true Army officer to guide panic- stricken women and children through the dim-lit and narrow stairway to safety, till flames engulfed him. Indian Army lost one of its finest officer and horse-rider. He had just won the National Games equestrian event in Mysore and was considered a strong prospect for the 1998 Asian Games.

The story doesn’t end there. Parents of Capt Manjinder Bhinder had to fight Ministry of Defence for the pension they were entitled to, who hung on to the technicality that Capt Bhinder had not been fighting enemies. He was fighting fire even while the army had declared his death “attributable to military service”. After seven years of litigation, the Delhi High Court told the MoD that a Soldier is ON DUTY ROUND THE CLOCK, and ordered a special family pension for Manjinder’s parents.

21 years later, after this tragedy in Delhi, the residents of Mehta Chowk had something to recount, remember and rejoice Capt Manjinder Singh Bhinder on whose memory stands a Memorial Gate and a Stadium in this small town. Alas……a few things had changed in the past two decades. Capt (Hony) Vardeep Singh, father of Bhinder had lost his eye sight due to Glaucoma and Veermata Gurnam Kaur had grown much feeble and weak looking towards the entrance of their house expecting the return of their gallant son one fine day.

The mother’s heart was filled with immense joy and it appeared that happiness and festivities had once again dawned at the ‘Bhinder House’, when they were visited by their son’s course mates who spent time with the ailing parents and remembering their fallen mate with those who gathered……relatives and friends at Mehta Chowk.

Brigadiers Vikramjit Singh Gill, Sunil Dalal, Gagan Baath and Colonel Gurdip Gill along with their wives paid homage to their fallen course mate at Mehta Chowk on 09 December 18 . The news of their arrival energised the village and around 40 people gathered at their house in no time. The two sisters who lived at Chandigarh and Batala had also reached their home. The villagers, neighbours and well-wishers were treated to tea and snacks organised by these Defence Officers, who had made these arrangements so as to not upset the rhythm at home and spend more time with the family of their course mate.

The hearts of the parents were filled with pride but the eyes of the visitors filled with tears when the Mother said that – “Happiness walked into our house for the first time in 21 years. We are eternally indebted. For so many years I waited and hoped for my son to walk into this very door, but today, after so long I saw my son the tall Sardar walking in straight and I felt as if my son has come back to me.”

This outreach program is a part of the AFWS91 Society which is a trust formed by the 78 NDA, 88 Regular and 71 Tech course. The trust has made it a point to visit and be with the parents / spouses/ NOK of all the 19 of their course mates who have lost their lives in operations and other tragedies in life.

This is the same Team that had earlier helped transport the mortal remains of their course mate 2Lt ET Joseph from Nagaland to his hometown in Kerala undertaking a massive logistic operation two years back duly assisted by the Army authorities.

These acts are the efforts to let each of the team members know that their loved ones will always be taken care of, much after the gallant warriors leave this earth in the call of their duty.

Capt Manjinder Singh Bhinder…………Amar Rahe!

And three cheers to the Band of Brothers of 78-88-71!

Single Post Navigation

25 thoughts on “Mehta Chowk AWAKENS

  1. Col Amish Chadha on said:

    Shabash Tigers well done .

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Sqn Ldr S Mahajan on said:

    Undoubtedly a great gesture by the coursemates of Capt Manjinder Singh. This is what separates us from the rest of the people that out hearts beat for the parents of our coursemates even after they have gone.
    Commendable Job!!;

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Cdr Ashutosh Kaushik (Retd) on said:

    Great show of course spirit.
    This is something that only fauzies can understand and appriciate.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Sajan has rightfully assumed the Title of Course Chronicler of the 88th (71Tech included).
    His flair for writing is natural as is his diligence in going about his assumed or assigned task without Beating the Retreat or Sounding his bugle, so to say.
    His chronological acumen is acute. His self less presentation of facts makes interesting reading which also transports the readers back many years to the exact era of facts.. Does bring moisture to the most hardened eyes too.
    Great read about a Great young Man who once strode briskly amongst us when he was not mincing his horses into foam..
    Thank you Ladies and Friends of 88 who have been part of this marvelous journey.
    And a special thanks to Sajan for stringing the words into memories for Manjinder’s Parents and for the rest of us..

    🙏

    Liked by 2 people

  5. ranjankeron on said:

    Am so, so proud to be part of this elite Band of Brothers ! We will not forget our Fallen Brethren …. RIP My Friends … Salute

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Col Pankaj Fotedar, VSM (Retd) on said:

    Sajan, buddy once again a piece of literature from you which seems to have taken away my ability to say well done. It is much more than a mere well done. At the same time, kudos to our mates who could bring smiles to a fallen mates frail parents. Continue to speak Sajan. I suggest also send it for publication in various mags. Let the country know our ethos.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Navdeep Singh Modi on said:

    I am not a Defence Officer although I craved to be one. I really appreciate the efforts of course mates of 78-88-71 for looking after the parents of their buddy’s who sacrificed their lives for the nation. No words for our heroes who are doing great service to the elderly parents of Nations Heroes. I wish if other course mates also form the group who could take care of parents of their buddy’s who sacrificed their lives.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Great job – forming a trust by the course. High time all other couses too did so.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Capt (IN) Sanjay Kumar, Retd on said:

    Great going Sajan. Keep it up.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. R S Pathania on said:

    An excellent initiative by the course. Makes one proud to be a part of the armed forces and inspires others too. Nowhere else do you see such camaraderie. Well done guys.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Parveen on said:

    So true spirit – Salúte to coursemates for bringing life to eyes of old parents
    Kudoos

    Parveen Senani

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Lt Col Jagjit Singh Judge on said:

    It is indeed a GR8 gesture on the part of the coursemates of Capt Bhinder. My salute to the coursemates. Lt Col Jagjit Singh Judge.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. APS Sandhu on said:

    Rest all is very nice. You get sudden adrenal rush reading this, to do something similar to your own coursemates and much more.
    But once thing is still odd.
    78-88-71

    Isn’t those belonging to 78, also belong to 88.
    But they prefer to maintain a seperate identity as 78 and not as 88-71.

    So much for the comraderie

    Like

  14. Gp Capt Peddi Eswara Rao on said:

    time in 21 years. We are eternally indebted. For so many years I waited and hoped for my son to walk into this very door, but today, after so long I saw my son the tall Sardar walking in straight and I felt as if my son has come back to me.”

    A Mother’s out burst of her true feeling, wait for her SON. It really me MOVED ME

    GREAT proud of uniformed services

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Jagdeep Singh on said:

    Applauds n Praises for you all. This is what Olive Green is more than Family.
    God Bless you all

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Col Jagdeep Singh on said:

    Applauds n Praises for you all. This is what Olive Green is more than Family.
    God Bless you all

    Like

  17. Col Jagat Mallick on said:

    No words to express the gratitude to the wonderful spirit of 78-88-71.
    Be Blessed.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Major Som Nath (Retd) on said:

    Although I am nowhere near 78/88/71 but I cannot stop my tears, emotional and wonderful. This type of gesture only in dare devils in O G. My salute to those who provided warm and cozy feelings to elderly parents. Very well done

    Liked by 1 person

  19. That’s the way to go. Well done. Keep up the good work.
    Very inspiring indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Col AK Yadav on said:

    A grand salute to the comradery n esprit de corps of the men in uniform. Proud to be part of this rare breed. God bless.
    Regards

    Like

  21. AnilShukla on said:

    Undoubtedly a great gesture by the coursemates of Capt Manjinder Singh. This is what separates us from the rest of the people that out hearts beat for the parents of our coursemates even though not amongst us

    Like

  22. An excellent cause. May Master empower you all with greater strength to do more such noble deeds.

    Like

  23. Lt col c s Mehta retd on said:

    .This is creditable. Good this is our Fauji. Does not it pain to hear after two decades some one brought knish to the old parents. Indian army and the course mate of officer zindabad

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: