Mrunal Manmay Dash

There are numerous veteran Indian Army soldiers in Odisha who fought valiantly in wars. And battle-time anecdotes from them are not any less either. There is one army veteran who has witnessed as many battles from close quarters and was indispensable for the forward soldiers. His mention is rendered important as India celebrates Vijay Diwas, win over Pakistan in 1971, today.

Meet ex-serviceman, Sulabh Behera from Karlapatna village in Kendrapara, who served the Indian Army as a Signals man from 1956 till retirement in almost all the combat operations and wars since 1961. And his call for today’s youth is ‘do or die’.

When OTV caught up with him on Friday, Behera, wearing a big moustache, was gleaming with pride. Vijay Diwas is more of his day, of course! He is a part of the famous win that saw the creation of Bangladesh as an independent nation.

Reminiscing his service days, Behera said, “My first active war was in 1961 Goa operation when Indian Army pushed away the Portuguese from the shores of Goa in a military operation and included the province in India. The second war was in November 1962. It was Deepawali and the Chinese opened fire on us. We even did not have any winterwear to keep us warm at that altitude. Though we lost that fight, we never let that fight get better of us. We ended it in a positive note by killing some Chinese as well.”

“The next war was in 1965 with Pakistan. It was long fought battle spanned from April till December that year. We finally won that war. I fought the most memorable war of my life in 1971. This was against Pakistan as well, but this war wasn’t ours to fight. On humanitarian grounds, we helped liberate the East Pakistan (Now Bangladesh) from the clutches of the inhuman treatment by Pakistan Army,” Behera added.

Asked about his message to the young generation wishing to join the military, Behera said, “Do or die; this is the only motto in Indian Army. This is the only sentence that will keep you motivated to serve Mother India till your last breathe.”

Though Behera was not in the uniform, he did not forget to wear his stars on his chest during the entire interview, displaying his Indian Army heritage with pride.

(Reported By Manoj Swain, OTV)