A real-story of an IRON-MAN

P.S :In this article names of characters have been changed for the purpose of preserving their sentiments.

Bharat Ratna is the highest civilian award of the Republic of India

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Place : In train

Date : 27th June 2013

Delhi in Monsoon is worst season to visit here !!! I was waiting for my train 12270/Hazrat Nizamuddin – Chennai Central Duronto Express. I was traveling to Chennai and I knew it was going to be a long journey so I was ready with my fully charged survival kits(Headphones, mp3 player, Laptop and mobile phone). As my coach was  AC 3 tier so I was not worried about battery. Early morning shivering cold and railway station was crowded with people. Finally train arrived and my berth number was 63, after some chaos all passengers settled down and bid a good bye to their dear ones.

Train started to move…

I was accompanied by one old aged couple. Earlier I thought of avoiding conversation with them but soon I realized something was not good with them. Restlessly out of excitement I asked “Dadi is everything fine ?”, soon  replied came from old man”We are fine,how are you ?”.Iasked him “where are you coming from”and I told him reason for my restlessness and he gave me smile and rested his back to the pillow near window. “You will get bored if I start talking” the words uttered from him. “lets see ,just give it try” I said. Dadi changed her seat and went and sat beside dada grasping his hands tightly.

It was bit awkward and shy moment for me because I haven’t seen any old age couple doing it at least in train. But I guess she already knew what was going to happen. I unfolded the bedding and covered my legs with blanket facing towards them.

Here starts the real yet most amazing story…

“Whats your name young man?” he asked me, I introduced myself to him. “I am retired Army General Amarjit Behl and she is my wife Suda Behl and I have three sons ” he introduced himself.

I being a Scout-Guide and NCC cadet I always have a special respect towards defense people.

“Are you fond of Cricket?” Dadaji asked. “Yes”I said without any doubt. “Good. then this story may hurt your sentiments for cricket”. Next question came up from his side “Do you think Sachin Tendulkar should get Bharat Ratna ? I said “sorry sir but I think we were going to discuss your story “. He smiled and started his story

Then he started………..

(grasping his wife’s hand  more tightly than before)

“We are the family of five members and as an army man it is not easy to carry your family everywhere with you but I somehow managed to do it. For me my country was,is and will always come first. I have been to many deserted places in India and was lucky to survive in battles I fought. I got married to Suda at the age of 25 and we were blessed with our first son.

It was rainy day when Suda was gave birth to our first baby boy Aman, sorry Major Aman Behl. He was a brave boy who completed his schooling in army school of Deharadun and was graduated in Electronics field.He was passionate about life and had a clear goal of becoming an army officer like me and wanted to contribute his life for India. He joined NDA and was passed out in 1989 and was given posting at Kargil. He was one the most popular soldier in his regiment because of his skills and decision making.

He visited our home very rarely and most of the time we contacted each other from landline phones and that too once in 10 days or sometimes more than that. He always discussed about how he spend his life playing football. He also told us about his mates with whom he performs drill and practices the mock attacks. Nilu Trushan, one of his close one was always in our conversation. He seems to be funny character. Aman started learning Guitar and promised us to play guitar once he come back in holidays. Everything was going fine till the kargil war was declared.

On May 29th 1991, Major Aman Behl  led a platoon up the Jubar Hills . While he was able to take back two bunkers the rest of Jubar Hills was under enemy control. One of the platoon members accompanying Major Aman the only one to survive the attack, was Nilu Trushan. He was hit on his legs three times and it took him ten days to crawl back to base. He gave the unit the information of how Major Aman Behl died after killing at least four of the enemy in hand-to -hand combat. The attack led by him came in the early stages of the conflict when adequate information was not available. There was little artillery support and no aircraft cover.

We were called to Kargil army base to collect all his belongings and perform the last ceremony. Suda was sobbing with pain of losing elder son. Somehow we managed to gather some courage and packed his things. We came to know Nilu  was in army hospital and he was with Aman when he died. Nilu narrated whole story to us, how he managed to bring down 4 enemies with hand to hand battle and how he managed me to escape and ordered me to reached to the army base and inform the field location and situation. Last words he uttered were “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” and winked at me having smile on his face.

We didn’t even received his body.His body lied somewhere in the battlefield. We were not even able to perform the last rituals.  I being an Indian soldier understood the situation but I was more worried about Suda. She was in trauma and was almost paralyzed for more than a month. Now my son was a Marty who sacrificed his life for his country.

I can’t explain my  feelings…one one side I had pain of losing my brave son and on other side my hand saluted my son for his deeds. Really tough to explain more”

With tear in his eyes he looked at my face which was just about to burst out with tears. He drank water and patted on his wife’s back and wiped her tears…

He resumes his story…

Our second son  Lieutenant Commander Neeraj Behl

Our second son  Lieutenant Commander Neeraj Behl, was 3 years younger than Aman,  I got transferred to the coast of Bay of Bengal in the north eastern region of Vishakhapatnam. He was brought up there itself in army school. He was most sharpest and most intelligent among my all sons. Once he proved his act of bravery when he was 14 years old,he saved life of a girl who was caught in watery grave on Rishikonda beach. He was inspired by Aman and he also wanted to follow his path. He was a NCC Navy cadet and continued in NCC in his graduation period also.

Neeraj was with us when Aman died and he was only the support we had because our third son was not just in his school days and  too young to go through all these things.

Soon he applied for a Navy job, cracked all the test and was was awarded with outstanding performer in his batch.He was in Vishakhapatnam so it was not difficult to meet him. When Aman passed away , he was our strength. He took care of our younger son’s studies and also of Suda when I was on my duty in other places. Neeraj was about to get engage to his school mate and was very excited for his new phase of life.

February 2008 He was on his daily exercise when he was killed and three critically injured due to exposure to hydrogen sulfide aboard INS Jalashwa (L41), a landing platform dock. The ship was taking part in exercises in the Bay of Bengal. It was the same day when he purchased ring for his fiancee.

We got call from Navy base and unfortunately this time I was not with Suda and my younger son when they heard this news. I was posted in chattisgarh at that time. I too got call and they told me this sad news. As an amry officer I always had a dream to sacrifice my life for my country so as every soldier must be dreaming of but I didn’t expected my Neeraj to die like this. Those were the painful words and till today I am unable to digest it.

Suda again had a huge blow of losing her 2nd son and blamed herself for not stopping Neeraj from joining the Navy. Only one mother can understand the pain of losing her child. She cried for days and so did Neeraj’s fiancee and her family.

I managed to get over this painful phase. I was thanking god because at least this time fortunately they were able to recover body of Neeraj. By this time Me and Suda knew whole procedure of how they pay their last tribute to the martyr. We performed all the rituals and came back home with blank mind and came back home”

–By this time I started  to weep badly. I was just looking at that old age couple who have lost their 2 brave sons and they are still standing proudly in their life.

This time General Amarjit Behl and his wife Suda Behl didnt wiped their tears and so did I. By this time few more people joined us.

One boy came selling coffee, I ordered coffee for all of us and with the first sip of coffee he said “you must be getting bored listening to me  and my sad story”, I replied “Please don’t make me feel guilt by saying this” and started to cry.

He again resumed his story….

Our third son Wing commander Ambarish Behl…

“By this time Suda have made her decision of not allowing Ambarish to join defense field. We already got two huge blow in our life and she didn’t wanted to lose her only son.

Our third son Wing commander Ambarish Behl, the most mischievous yet most matured among my three gems. He was the only child with whom I spent most of my time as compared to Aman and Neeraj. As he was youngest among all, he was more close to my heart. He was tall, handsome hunk with sharp mind and charming smile. He always took care of me and Suda on every step on our life, starting from our medication dozes to each and everything you can imagine of an ideal child. Like his elder brothers he too wanted to join defense field but don’t know why my mind was not ready to send him. He completed schooling and graduation in vishakhapatnam. We went for his convocation ceremony but this time it was something special because my Ambarish was declared as an university topper.

I still remember that day when I made biggest mistake of my life by thinking from my heart and not with brain. As you know we Indian parents has weakness of being sentimental and so did I, I asked him “Ambarish ask me anything you want and I wont say no to it”. My fear came true when he said “Papa please let me join airforce and serve my country like you and my elder brothers”.

My legs almost got freeze after hearing those words because those were my words to my mother when she asked me for a wish. And even today I regret that mistake of being sentimental.

Suda and I had fight on this topic, I was caught in a relation of father and husband. But again I am repeating that I still have regret of thinking from my heart. Suda didn’t spoke to me for several days after I allowed him to join defense.

As promised I didn’t stopped him from joining Indian Airforce. He cleared CDS exam and also cleared all test including medical test. He completed training and kept getting promotions one after another because of his hard work and focus mind. He was now a wing commander who had experience of several hours of flying helicopters and fighter Jets. He got posting in Gaurikund, Uttarakhand.

Date : 16th june 2013, my cellphone had 8 missed calls, it was of Amabarish. It was very rare occasion when he might have called me so many times. I called him back and my heart was beating faster than ever. He didn’t received my call, I again called him but again same thing. By now my heart was almost in my mouth .

Sometimes Father relation get over me more than a soldier of an Indian army. I became very cautious after Aman’s and Neeraj’s incident. After calling him several times

Voice came “Hi papa where have you been ??? I have called you severals times, neither mom nor you replied…I was worried about you “. I had a sigh of relief and managed to hide me crying voice and said  “I am sorry son, we were watching TV and my phone was not with me. how are you ?”. “I am fine dad but weather is really very bad and its raining heavily” and phone disconnected . we were used to this because as it is hilly area network connectivity was the problem.

I switched on to news channel and every channel was showing the horrible scene of cloud burst at Kedarnath pilgrimage. Thousands of people asking for help and flood had already swollen away the whole city. I tried to call back but Ambarish didnt replied. I sensed something wrong was going to happen. For almost 9 days we were unable to contact him.

25 June: Ambarish calling…

Phone rang which displayed “Ambarish calling”. Out of excitement I call Suda and turned on the speaker. It was Akhilesh, Ambarish’s best friend… “Hi uncle Akhilesh here, where are you?”, without showing any concern to his question I asked “where is Ambarish? just give him phone, we need to talk to him…”.

30 seconds of silence…

“Uncle I am sorry to inform you that your son went to rescue operation and while getting back to airforce station chopper crashed into the mountain….”, he kept shouting “Uncle are you listening ? is my voice audible ? uncle….. unc..” and phone disconnected.

Yes an IAF Mil MI-71 carrying 20 personnel working on Flash Flood rescue operations near Gaurikund in North India crashed into hilly terrain killing all on board. My son was among those 20 lives. Again life played with us,my son went to save other’s life and died in an accident while serving our country. Body of  Wing commander Ambarish Behl was recovered but it was beyond recognition. The face of my handsome baby was burnt badly and many body parts were missing.

Mrs.Behl weeped very badly and same was our condition. We all were looking at each other’s face.

General Amarjit Behl looked at me and asked me “Do you remember I asked you something in the beginning”, I was not in state of recollecting what he said. He himself reminded me “Do you think Sachin Tendulkar should get Bharat Ratna?”

he continued….

“In our country there are several parents like us who have sacrificed their son for our country, no one is able to see our contribution towards India, in what condition we live, we dedicate our life on borders fighting with enemies and praying to god “Please god don’t call me today, I need to serve more than this” and on other side people of India as playing politics, taking out rallies and creating havoc so that Tendulkar should get “Bharat Ratna”

Now I live this question onto you “Parents like me who have sacrificed their three sons to mother India should get “Bharat Ratna” or “Sachin Tendulkar” deserves it more? and yes you asked us “where are you coming from?”, We are coming from Wing commander Ambarish Behl’s funeral which we did in Gaurikund itself.

—That couple got down at Bhopal station leaving us behind with a question. We all saluted them and we are still in contact with them.

Now I ask you people, what is you opinion on this ?

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-By Ankit Bibekar.

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