Almost a year after the fierce gun battle in Hajin area of Bandipora in North Kashmir, which left him almost dead, CRPF’s Chetan Kumar Cheetah has finally resumed active duty as Commandant in Force Headquarter in Delhi last week.
Donning a Khaki uniform, wearing an eye-patch on his right eye, and metal glasses, Cheetah told India Today, “I am proud to resume my duty again. It is good to be back.”
Referring to the uniform, he laughed and said, “This is my second skin.”
Cheetah’s survival was nothing short of a miracle. The brave soldier took 9 bullets in an encounter between terrorists and security forces in the wee hours of February 14, 2017, in Hajin area of Bandipora.
What really happened?
On February 14, 2017, when Indian Army’s troops were conducting a search operation in Bandipora when terrorist hiding in the area started firing at the troops.
But Cheetah, Commandant of 45 battalion, bravely stalled the terrorists and ended up in suffering multiple gunshots.
Cheetah also received Kirti Chakra, the second highest peacetime gallantry medal last year.
Chetan Cheetah said, “I want youngsters to give 100 percent to the country, that’s what I have done. The duty which I had, I could have escaped, but instead, I faced the bullets.”
Never to shy away from a bold statement, he said “It will take some time for the situation to settle down in Jammu and Kashmir. A soldier can only do that much. There has to be a strong political will.”
The commandant during his year-long recovery had reiterated several times that “military solution to Kashmir can be the only political solution to Kashmir’s problem”.
Cheetah has been calling on his senior officers ever since his return. He had lost his eye during the operation and is undergoing massive physiotherapy to resume sensation in his hand.
The bullet wounds are still visible on his hand, where the flesh seems to have been cut off.
Senior officers feel that the injured officer would need another year or two to be completely back to normal.
Although, Chetan Cheetah’s fighting spirit seemed every bit alive, “My physiotherapy is going on. And, I am fighting fit. If my force and my country want me to go to field area and do operations. There will be no hesitation.”
Even before he joined duty, the brave officer recently went to CRPF Academy in Mount Abu to give a motivational speech to personnel.
However, even though he has decided to resume work, Cheetah’s wife Uma is still worried about his recovery.
He said, “My family is worried. My wife is worried. But, I know I would recover faster if I resume work.”
His return post his recovery truly shows the willpower of the Indian soldiers along with their unconditional commitment to the nation.