You can make anything by writing – CS Lewis
Sunil Kumar Razdan created history when he was promoted to Major General. He is the first wheel chair bound officer to be in this rank in Indian army. Society spends some time with him to know how he is like when not making strategies against the enemies.
At the first look he is just a normal guy. In blue t-shirt and black pant and with all smiles he comes out. He calmly pushes his wheel chair and get settle down in sofa without anybodies help. But when the tête-à-tête start and walks back in the memory lane, slowly the real and tough army man begins to come out.
“Army life is very challenging. One has to face many situations where one needs to take decisions in a quick moment which can be costly for other and own life. They say our work starts when others work stop. That’s why we are not only physically fit but mentally very agile. But it also gives you an opportunity to serve your nation” says the Major General with a pride.
“I never thought to be in army, it just happened. During my Masters days we were confused about our career. One of my friends was filling up form for army. He told me that I was not meant for it. I better be a professor because I was good in Math. I took it as a challenge and cleared the exam, he did not. I joined army in 1976, I was just 22 years old,” he smiles.
He remembers the fateful day which was ironically his birthday (October 9) that changed everything. “In 1994 we got information that Lashkae-e-Tohiba militants have abducted around 14 girls from a village near Kashmir. We started our operation around four in the morning and reach the location at seven in the evening. But we are informed by the villagers that they have just walk up the mountain. We reach the second village at around nine in the night. There was a three storey house which was lighted with hurricane lamp. When we went closer we smell desi ghee. All these things made us suspicious, like here usually people sleep early, they don’t use ghee but mustard oil and on that they were using hurricane lamp. We saw women sitting, so asked them what they were doing. They mistook us as militants, ‘you told us to cook for so we are. And now you are asking what we are doing?’
All the militants were upstairs as they didn’t expect anybody to come there. Taking the advantage, we tried to evacuate the women from window. In the commotion there was some noise that alerted the militants. I turned off the light and waited for right opportunity. I jumped and took the weapon of one guy and other one’s in between my left arm. To make sure I shot them to dead. Then I saw another militant coming down, I fired at him. He tumbles down and fell down on the death bodies. Thinking him to be dead I tried to take his weapon but he shoot at me in stomach. My bullet hit him on his knee that made him lost balance and fell down. I took the wrong decision because he didn’t move or shout at all. Since I had my weapon ready I shot him dead. My stomach opened up and as my spine was broken. I felt down and blood was oozing out. So took out my patka (scarf) and tied it very tightly around the waist. I informed my man to radio that I have to be evacuated. Fortunately I remembered the chemist shop and the sodium lactate (glucose) on the shelf which I saw when we were coming up. So I ordered my man to get it. After placing myself in woodshed and fixed up my own drip. Again around three in the morning we saw three more militants coming down. As I knew the local dialogue I told them not to go other side as army is there and to come where we were. Then we disarmed them and then finally action was completed.
This is not the end of the story, like a brave solider he took it on his stride. “Lots of things have changed in my life. I can’t do things like a normal person can do. The moment I was shoot, I knew that if I survive I will be in paralytic condition. Things have to be done differently. Just the will to survive makes me to go on. There is no point in cribbing and seek for sympathies. First deserve and then desire. At some point of time your family member will get fate up, so it’s important to be independent. I do 90 to 95% of my work myself. I have modified my car and drive around myself. I am found of shooting, I go and practice shooting pistols. My day starts at around six. I do exercise regularly, especially my arms. In my case I need to have strong arms. I have made makeshift gym, a pulley on a tree branch. And there is weights on one side and crazy old man on the other. After that on bed I do push up and sit up.” the result can be seen in his bicep.
Major General SK Razdan has been awarded second highest peace time gallantry award Kriti Chakar in 1996. Following his father’s step, elder son Ishan (22) is already in the air force. So how it must be to see his son also toning uniform like him? “I have no problem in my son joining the force. I am not bothered about what others do but what I do. It is my country and it’s my responsibility to keep the country safe. If I don’t then who will? No foreigner will come and do so. This is the place where I live with freedom,” says 57 years old proud father. However his younger son Paarth (19) is not in the force but he is also going to save lives, he is a medical student.
After going through so many things in one’s life time, is there any thing left to do? “I want to slither down in a rope from helicopter in this state. Not just for the purpose for demonstration but to saw that it can also be done in war. I have put in effort and asked people to help me out in this. It seems people are more concern about my health and my arm more then me. But I will do it.”
Salute to the undying spirit of this soldier’s soldier!
(Published in Society Aug ’11. Page No.102)