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Monday, July 12, 1999
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Palampur bids adieu to Vikram Batra
From Tribune Reporters and agencies

PALAMPUR, July 11 — The mortal remains of 25-year-old Captain Vikram Batra belonging to 13 J&K Rifles were consigned to the flames here this afternoon with full military honours.

Over 20,000 people from every walk of life assembled here to bid a tearful farewell to the brave soldier, who laid down his life in the Batalik sector on July 7, while fighting the Pakistan infiltrators.

Captain Batra had captured 5140 peak in Dras sector last month with out any casualty. Later, in another operation, he succeeded in capturing peak 4875. Last week, Chief of Army Staff V.P. Malik, had personally spoken to him and congratulated him for his successful mission. The Government of India had already announced its decision to award him the Mahavir Chakra.

His body was flown from Srinagar to Jammu yesterday, and later brought to Palampur by road. Mr H.R. Sharma, SDM, Palampur, accompanied the body from Pathankot. The body was received here by senior Army and civil officers and political leaders.

Later, the body was taken to his residence near the old bus stand where former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh was present to receive it. After all religious ceremonies were performed, the body was kept in the local Pargati Maidan to allow the residents to pay homage to Captain Batra, who had studied and grown up in this small town.

Residents from this town and its adjoining villages thronged to pay their last respects to him. Amid tearful scenes, the people raised slogans of "Vikram Batra amar rahe" and "Jab tak suraj chand rahega Vikram tera naam rehega.".

Wreaths were placed on the body on behalf of the President of India, the state Governor, Ms V.S. Ramadevi and the Chief of Army Staff, Gen V.P. Malik.

The Chief Minister, Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal, the former Chief Ministers, Mr Shanta Kumar and Mr Virbhadra Singh, the HPCC President, Mr Sat Mahajan, the Transport Minister, Mr Krishan Kapoor, the Agriculture Minister, Mr Vidya Sagar, the District Congress Committee chief, Mr Brij Butail, the HP Minister of State for Technical Education, Mr Ravinder Thakur, the Industry Minister, Mr Kishori Lal, the BJP MLAs, Mr Vipan Parmar, and Mr Dulo Ram, and the Congress MLA Mr G.S. Bali also placed wreaths on the body.

Earlier, Mr Dhumal visited the house of Captain Batra and expressed sympathy with the bereaved family. Mr G.L. Batra, father of the slain officer, told the Chief Minister that he was proud of his son, who had laid down his life for the nation. His son was born for this mission, which he had fulfilled in the short span of his life, Mr Batra added.

When the valiant soldier was being taken on his last journey, people lined up on both sides of the road and showered flowers on the coffin. All business establishments in the town remained closed as a mark of respect to the young officer. Even tea vendors, rehriwalas and rikshaw pullers suspended their business activities and joined the funeral.

The twin brother of Captain Batra, Vishal Batra lit the pyre amid the chanting of mantras. There were heart-rending scenes as the last rites of the officer were performed.

The Chief Minister announced that the government had decided to name Government Degree College, here as Vikram Batra Degree College, Palampur. He also announced that the government would erect a memorial for Captain Batra in the town.

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