Gorkhatimes

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Unarmed, he saved a bus full of passengers

Posted by Ramesh Khati on August 12, 2009

Jawan Min Bhadur Thapa, a Kargil war veteran, single-handedly took on a group of armed robbers; but was paralysed in the attack

By:-Vinod Kumar Menon

For Min Bhadur Thapa, a jawan from the 4/3 Gurkha Regiment, the bad guy has to be defeated anywhere, be it at Kargil or on a bus, and with equal passion.

It was his soldier’s spirit that made him single-handedly take on a group of armed robbers on a bus at the Indo-Nepal border and save his fellow passengers. Unfortunately, the encounter left the braveheart paralysed for life.

“I would have been happy to die fighting enemies during the Kargil war but fate had something else in store for me,” regretted Thapa, sitting in his wheelchair at the Army rehabilitation centre at Kadki, Pune. “It’s so unfortunate that I was shot by my fellow countrymen,” the 32-year-old soldier said.

Willing his way: Despite his handicap, Min Bhadur Thapa leads an active life and works at the Military Rehabilitation Centre in Pune

Willing his way: Despite his handicap, Min Bhadur Thapa leads an active life and works at the Military Rehabilitation Centre in Pune

The tragedy

In January 2004 Thapa was on leave, visiting his hometown in Nepal. On January 29, the same year, while on his way back to join his regiment, he boarded a bus to Lucknow from Bahraich in Uttar Pradesh near the Indo-Nepal border. It was around 9 pm.

The bus was nearing Ramnagar, about 35 km away, when six passengers forced the driver at knifepoint to halt at a deserted spot. The men, in their early twenties, started threatening people to give up all their valuables. “I was sitting just behind the driver’s seat and they hit my right hand with a knife. I was not in my uniform and requested them not to misbehave. I tried to control myself. But they started punching me. I decided to fight back, hoping the other passengers would help me. But I was wrong,” Thapa said.

According to Thapa, he managed to overpower three robbers and pushed them out of the bus. Then one of the robbers nabbed a 15-year-old boy and was about to stab him, when Thapa jumped in to save the boy and succeeded. But the knife slashed his palm.

Meanwhile, another robber fired a round from his country-made revolver, injuring Thapa’s spinal chord. “I could feel the pain and knew I was bleeding. I was struggling to get up but the lower part of my body had become numb. I could not move,” said Thapa.

The robbers fled the scene, leaving behind the booty in the bus. “Unfortunately, none of the passengers came to my rescue. It was only when the robbers fled that the bus driver and the conductor approached me and I disclosed my identity.”

The driver took Thapa to the Ramnagar police station and the local police shifted him to a hospital, from where he was taken to the military hospital in Kirkee, Pune.

Thapa underwent numerous surgeries and was in the hospital for over two years but the doctors could not dislodge the bullet from his body.

Though today Thapa leads an active life despite his injuries, he regrets that none of the 32 passengers in the bus dared to help. “I am dejected,” he said.

The future

Since his handicap was permanent, Thapa retired from the Army in June 2006. Today, he stays at the Military Rehabilitation Centre in Pune with his wife Geeta and two daughters Roshini, 8, and Raveena, 6. He is employed at the Centre, along with 70 other soldiers and officers who were injured in accidents. “I am happy the Army has helped me. I get a monthly pension of Rs 9,000,” he said.

Family of soldiers

Thapa hails from Surkhet district in Nepal and is the eldest among four siblings. His father Maan Bahadur Thapa too was a hawaldar in the Indian Army. And after his schooling, as per his father’s advice Thapa decided to join the Indian Army. On February 1, 1996, at the age of 17, Thapa’s dream came true and he joined the 39 Gurkha Training Centre in Benaras.

Kargil highs

In September 1998, Thapa was transferred to Almora in Uttar Pradesh and later in May 1999, when the Kargil war began, he was moved to Kargil. The war claimed the lives of seven jawans and injured 17 others from his regiment.

“We were honoured to have been asked to march to war. It was the happiest moment of our lives,” said Thapa, who served at Kargil for two months.

Reward
Thapa says the local police and his regiment appreciated his bravery. The local police gave him a cash reward of Rs 1,000 and his regiment gave him a wheelchair and has taken care of all his needs.

Source:- MiD-DAY

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