Bravery and courage are inbuilt in humans!
By: M S Nazki
Nitika Koul is an example as to how a wife can step into a husband soldier’s shoes to carry on from where he left!
- She was never out and done. She took her time to recoup from the tragedy that had struck her like a torpedo and went in for doing what to most could be termed as impossible and achieved it for her husband!
I had two options here when I heard this piece of great news I heard and then got a write up from my friend in my inbox. I could have done a news story but it would not have done justice to the couple who were born to serve the Nation by wearing the coveted olive green uniform. The husband Major Vibhuti Shanker Dhoundiyal sacrificed his life in the true traditions of a soldier in one of the fierce face offs against the terrorists in Pulwama, to his wife Nikita Koul it was a setback but she decided to make the greatest offering of her husband her strength and motive to move ahead and join the Indian Army by clearing every exam, interview and training. Perhaps her husband was watching from the heavens though not visible but full of elation and pride and saying, ‘great job done sweet heart!’! So I decided to write the saga of bravery, courage under fire, devotion to duty at hand, the ultimate sacrifice and the final rising of his lady wife determined to carry forward the baton from where her husband left! So here it is for the eyes of the readers as to what I have written with whatever talent and a bit of expertise I have!
Perhaps Vibhuti always told her, be an independent thinker at all times, and ignore anyone who attempts to define you in a limiting way. That is the reason she did not drop a tear at the last rites of her husband and just blew a kiss, though the face was grim, yet it was lit up with pride, the eyes a bit shrunk with grief still sparkled and the mouthpiece despite being dry was ready to speak out the truth from the heart. It is said that on the left side of a strong woman, stands a strong man, he is her strength and her pride. Thus arises a lethal combination ready to take on any eventuality. Nikita had seen it happening right in front of her eyes. After her husband walked away on the glorious path to eternity she did not sit back. The urge was to do something for him and she set upon a journey that was not going to be easy in any way but definitely achievable. She was in tough times yet she chose never to give up hope, even when the day turned dark for her she always tried to bring light into it. She is a woman who never believed in setbacks. At the back of her mind she knew that they were all part of the life. Take some sand her heart bubbled from inside and turn it into a molding block, just go and be an example of hope for others. She had a concept of self fulfillment, she had the ability to stand up to the antagonist. She really is an example of a strong woman. She has moved through and on the world like no other woman at least I know.
I. What she said at the funeral:
A strong woman had to speak something inspiring and something exemplary. In a moment her world had crashed, everything had fallen apart but she held back her tears and said a few words which were resonant and that could only come from a lady of substance. As a memoir as to what she said at that time:
- She urged every Indian not to sympathize but stay strong and united in this crucial hour.
- ‘I will request everyone not to sympathize rather be very strong because this man (V S Dhoundiyal) holds a position very larger than any of us standing here. Let us salute this man. Jai Hind’.
- Holding back her tears during the performance of last rites of Major Dhoundiyal, the proud wife Nitika blew him a kiss and said with three lines, ‘I love you.’
- Praising the Major for sacrificing his life for the nation and the people he had never met, Nitika said, ‘I am really proud. We all love you. The way you love everyone is entirely different because you sacrificed your life for the people who you may have never met, but still you decided to give your life for them.’
- ‘You are such a brave man. I am very honored to have you as my husband. I will love you till my last breath. I owe my life to you. Yes, it’s hurting that you’re leaving but I know you will always be around. No doubt he is, very close in fact though not visible yet around since she is in the same uniform as he was, ‘Olive Green’!
II. Great men need no introduction:
There are so many ways to be brave in this world. Sometimes bravery involves laying down your life for something bigger, or for someone else. Sometimes it involves giving up everything you have ever known, or everyone you have ever loved, for the sake of something greater and that means the Nation and the people, the rest comes after that. That is what Vibhuti did. I will add here, I believe that the most important single thing, beyond discipline and creativity is daring to dare. I do not think I have to elaborate on it! Some facts about this great man’s life:
- Maj Vibhuti Shankar Dhoundiyal hailed from Dehradun in Uttarakhand and was born on 18 Dec 1987. Son of Shri OP Dhondiyal and Smt Saroj Dhondiyal, Maj Vibhuti Shankar Dhoundiyal had three sisters and was the youngest among his siblings.
- Maj Vibhuti’s father as well as grandfather had worked in the office of Controller Defence Accounts. He had studied at St Joseph School Dehradun and later completed his graduation from DAV college.
- He was very keen to join the Armed Forces right from his childhood and pursued his dream after graduation.He duly cleared the Combined Defence Services Examination and was commissioned into the Army on 17 Sep 2011.
- By 2019, Maj Vibhuti had put in around eight years of service and had evolved into a committed soldier with fine fighting and field craft skills.
- After serving for a few years with his parent unit, Maj Vibhuti was deputed to serve with 55 RR Battalion, deployed in J & K for counterinsurgency operations. He got married to Nitika Kaul belonging to a Delhi-based Kashmiri family on 19th April 2018.
III. The Pulwama Operation: 18 Feb 2019:
Insurgency battles are a bit tricky because you do not know what the mad max at the other end is going to do but still you have to get him. Major Vibhuti had known it all ever since he had entered Pulwama, a beautiful place but known for all the wrong reasons. This also the Major knew and that is why he perhaps always thought, always keep your foes confused. If they are never certain who you are or what you want, they cannot know what you are like to do next. They knew what the officer was because he had got the man he was hunting (I will come to the operation subsequently) but the deadly flying object also known as a bullet had got him at the wrong place in the body frame. The job had been done but not without an enormous piece! Four others too gave up their lives so that we all live in peace inside our homes.
Long time back I along with my junior were listening to a song while sitting on the post on the LOC in Rajouri while having lunch. That’s a nice song, said the youngster, and I remembered that I was hearing it for the first time. It’s an old soldier’s song, he enthusiastically said. I looked back at him and said, really young boy but I think it is about angels in heaven and it’s amazing what those angels do to rise up as the song progresses. It’s a real soldiers’ song, sentimental and emotional! As I recall, they used to sing it after battles, I’ve seen old men cry when they sing it. My dad also used to! I concluded. Really the songs of valor, chivalry and martyrdom, all for the Nation are like that. This was yet another for the young officers of tomorrow to listen to!
- Pulwama attack was initiated by a Kashmiri youth from Kakpora, Pulwama.
- During 2018-2019, Maj Vibhuti Shankar Dhoundiyal’s unit 55 RR, was deployed in Pulwama district in J&K and was engaged in operations against the militants on a regular basis.
- Following the terrorists’ attack on the CRPF convoy in Pulwama on 14 Feb 2019, the security forces were maintaining a state of high alert, and subsequently, a massive operation was launched to nab the perpetrators of the attack.
On 17 Feb 2019, the security forces received credible information from the intelligence sources about the presence of terrorists in Pinglan village of Pulwama district.
- Based on the intelligence inputs 55 RR along with the Special Operation Group of J & K Police launched a search and destroy operation in Pinglan a neighborhood of Kakapora the home of the terrorist, who had attacked the CRPF convoy on 14 Feb.
The assault team was being led by Brigadier Harbir Singh himself and Maj Vibhuti was part of the team. On being challenged the terrorists opened fire and a fierce gun battle ensued thereafter lasting for over 20 hours.
A number of hardcore terrorists including the top Jish-e-Mohammed man Abdul Rasheed alias Ghazi responsible for the attack on the CRPF convoy on 14 February, were eliminated during the encounter.
- However, during the heavy exchange of fire, eleven security personnel too got injured including the leader of the team. The injured soldiers were shifted to the Army Hospital but Maj Vibhuti and three other soldiers Sep Ajay Kumar, Sep Hari Singh, and Hav Sheo Ram succumbed to their injuries and were martyred.
- Maj Vibhuti was a valiant soldier and a fine officer who led from the front and laid down his life in the service of the nation, following the highest traditions of the Indian Army. Maj Vibhuti Shankar Dhoundiyal was given the gallantry award, Shaurya Chakra for his exceptional courage, devotion to duty, and supreme sacrifice.
The brave officer perhaps always carried the notion at the back of his mind that if the enemy offers you two targets then go for the third because it is there where he thinks he is safe! In the umpteenth operation the officer always did that and was always successful!
IV: Nikita carries the baton forward:
Nikita Kaul is now an officer in the Indian Army and she minced no words when she said that joining the Indian Army was her way of paying tribute to her husband Major Vibhuti Shankar Dhoundiyal, and ‘feeling close’ to him. Indeed the greatest one to a man whom you love but she should always remember that Vibhuti would be close to her each and every time, the feel of the uniform will continuously remind her of his being about because he too once wore it. He will be in her dreams guiding her, in her heart beat continuously coaxing her to perfection and on her left side always to hold her in case she misses a step.
She is a very strong young woman, being strong and clever is feminine. Being mentally strong is a virtue, being sporty and confident is her inherent quality and she knows that we live in an age where people have begun to believe the stereotypes so strongly that they reject the truth of their own eyes and hearts. Female strength is a wonderful thing. If others have insecurity issues about that, that is their problem. Because being whom I was born to become is my pride, my well earned self esteem. And all this what she did to join the Indian Army was just a follow up of Major Vibhuti’s childhood dream flight and this achievement she has dedicated to the brave man as a tribute!
She joined the Indian army as she had vowed to join the force after her husband Major Dhoundiyal was awarded Shaurya Chakra (P) in 2019 for his supreme sacrifice to the nation.
- Less than 6 months after her husband’ vanishing act to eternity she began her preparations to join the Indian Army.
- The 28-year-old had cleared her Short Service Commission (SSC) examinations as well as the interview in 2020 and was waiting to join the force. She passed out of the Officers Training Academy on May 26, this year.
- She was formally commissioned into the Indian Army by Commander of the Indian Army’s Northern Command Lt General YK Joshi.
This was an emotional signature all the way. She had signed the bond a long time back and is in the force in which her husband was.
- She had always said, ‘you said you loved me, but the fact is you loved the nation more. I am really proud’. ‘Now I will try to follow the imprints you left on the sands of time and I’m sure you are watching me somewhere like you always did with a smile. But that time you are visible and now simply invisible, yet somewhere near’! This she must be saying now!
- The pipping ceremony was held at the Officers Training Academy in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. She is all set to join the technical force of Indian Army since she is skilful and expert on the keypads of the technical marvel also known as the computer in the cybernetic world.
She did struggle to cope up the loss with the transition. But she wanted to develop herself. True development comes when we listen to the inner voice, It could have been of Vibhuti whispering with every heartbeat of hers. Therefore she decided it’s time to just do it and she did it for her husband! This is a story that happened right in front of us. It is not an imaginary one but real and truly inspirational. This happens only in India and the great Indian Army!