2nd Lt Arun Khetarpal, PVC, Indian Army

2nd Lt Arun Khetarpal, PVC

On 16th December 1971 when our position at Jarpal in the Shakargarh Sector was subjected to an attack by a Pakistani armoured regiment and our troops were heavily outnumbered by enemy forces, the squadron commander asked for reinforcements.

2nd Lt Arun Khetarpal, on hearing this transmission over the radio, answered the call and moved with his troop to meet the enemy attack. On the way, his troop came under fire from enemy strong points and recoilless gun nests that were still holding out in the bridge-head established across the Basantar river by our troops. Realising that a critical situation was developing and prompt action was to be taken, 2nd Lt Khetarpal assaulted the enemy strong points, physically over-running them and capturing the enemy's infantry and weapon crews at pistol point.

In the course of this action, the commander of one of the tanks in his troops was killed but, 2nd Lt Khetarpal continued to attack relentlessly till all opposition was overcome and he broke through towards the location of our squadron. When enemy tanks started pulling back after their initial probing attacks, he chased them and destroyed one of them.

When the enemy launched another attack with an armoured squadron, against the sector held by three of our tanks, one of which was manned by 2nd Lt Khetarpal, a fierce battle ensued and 10 enemy tanks were hit and destroyed of which 2nd Lt Khetarpal personally destroyed four. In the fight 2nd Lt Khetarpal's tank was hit and it burst into flames and he was severely wounded.

2nd Lt Khetarpal was ordered to abandon his tank but realising that the enemy was still pressing the attack in this sector and that if he abandoned his tank, the enemy would break through, he continued engaging the enemy despite the grievous wounds and his own tank burning. He destroyed one more enemy tank before his tank was hit a second time, killing him. But the enemy had been denied the breakthrough he was seeking so desperately.

In this action 2nd Lt Arun Khetarpal displayed the most conspicuous gallantry in the face of the enemy, indomitable fighting spirit and tenacity of purpose.