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Politics & War

Politics & War

Paramvir Second Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal

Paramvir Second Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal




  • The Param Veer Chakra (PVC) is India’s highest military decoration, awarded for displaying distinguished acts of valour during wartime.
  • Only 21 soldiers have received this award.


  • The Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 was a military confrontation between India and Pakistan that occurred during the liberation war in East Pakistan from 3 December 1971 to the fall of Dacca (Dhaka) on 16 December 1971.
  • Approximately 90,000 to 93,000 Pakistani servicemen were taken prisoner by the Indian Army


  • Arun Khetarpal was born in Pune, Maharashtra on 14 October 1950.His father Lt Col (later Brigadier) M. L. Khetarpal was a Corps of Engineers officer serving in the Indian Army and his family traced a long history of military service.
  • Attending The Lawrence School, Sanawar, he distinguished himself both as an able student and sportsman and was the school prefect.
  • Khetarpal joined the National Defence Academy in June 1967.In June 1971, Khetarpal was commissioned into the 17 Poona Horse.


  • When the Pakistan Air Force launched pre-emptive strikes on Indian airfields on the eve of December 3, 1971, India immediately responded by formally declaring war in the wee hours of December 4.
  • The tasks set for the 47th Brigade was to establish a bridgehead across the River Basantar. By 21:00 hours of 15 December, the brigade had captured its objectives. However, the place was extensively mined, which prevented the deployment of the tanks of the Poona Horse


  • Close to the Pakistani base in Sialkot, this territory was of strategic importance for both sides as it comprised road and rail links to Jammu from Punjab which, if cut off by Pakistan, could have led to snapping of a key link to Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Also, sensitive areas such as Amritsar, Pathankot and Gurdaspur lay within easy striking distance.
  • Recognising the importance of controlling this position, the 47th Brigade responded with alacrity, building the bridgehead by 2100 hours on December 15, 1971.


  • The first counter-attack was decimated by accurate gunnery, coolness by Indian tank troop and individual tank commanders from the CO, Lt Col Hanut Singh down to its troop leader, Arun Khetarpal.
  • The 13th Lancers desperately launched two more squadron-level counter-attacks and managed to achieve a breakthrough.
  • They retaliated fiercely — destroying tanks, capturing gun nests and over-running enemy defences. n the ensuing tank battle, Lt. Arun Khetarpal with his 2 remaining tanks fought off and destroyed 10 tanks


  • His final words over the radio to a superior officer who had ordered him to abandon his burning tank were, “No, Sir, I will not abandon my tank. My main gun is still working and I will get these bastards.“
  • Victory came at a great cost for the Indian Army. Seven officers, four junior commissioned officers and 24 other soldiers laid down their lives while defending the nation