Born on 14 October 1950, in Pune, Maharashtra, 2nd Lt Arun Khetarpal came from a family with a long tradition of service in the Army. His great grandfather had served in the Sikh army and fought against the British at the battle of Chalianwala in 1848. His grandfather served in the British army during the first world war and Arun's father, Brigardier M.L. Khetarpal, served in the Engineering corps till he retired from service.

His schooling was from prestigious Lawerence School, Sanawar. It was perhaps here that the the motto of the school ' Never Give in' was embeded in him which he would follow later on to death. In Sanawar he distinguished himself both in academics and sports. He was an ace swimmer and played Saxophone in school's band. After completing his initial education, Arun joined the National Defence Academy (NDA) in 1967 and three years later went on to Indian Military Academy to complete his final phase of military training. He was commissioned in the 17 Poona Horse on 13 June 1971. Six months later, war was declared. He was still short of doing his Young Officers Course. He was 21.

2nd Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal
 

The citation for the Param Vir Chakra awarded to him reads:

Second Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal
POONA HORSE (IC-25067)

On 16 December 1971, the Squadron Commander of 'B' Squadron, the Poona Horse asked for reinforcement as the Pakistani Armour which was superior in strength, counter attacked at Jarpal, in the Shakargarh Sector. On hearing this transmission, Second Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal who was in 'A' Squadron, voluntarily moved along with his troop, to assist the other squadron. En route, while crossing the Basantar River, Second Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal and his troop came under fire from enemy strong points and RCL gun nests that were still holding out. Time was at a premium and as critical situation was developing in the 'B' Squadron sector, Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal, threw caution to the winds and started attacking the impending enemy strong points by literally charging them, overrunning the defence works with his tanks and capturing the enemy infantry and weapon crew at pistol point. In commander of his troop was killed. Second Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal continued to attack relentlessly until all enemy opposition was overcome and he broke through towards the 'B' Squadron position, just in time to see the enemy tanks pulling back after their initial probing attack on this squadron. He was so carried away by the wild enthusiasm of battle and the impetus of his own headlong dash that he started chasing the withdrawing tanks and even managed to shoot and destroy one. Soon thereafter, the enemy reformed with a squadron of armour for a second attack and this time they selected the sector held by Second Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal and two other tanks as the points for their main effort. A fierce tank fight ensured ten enemy tanks were hit and destroyed of which Second Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal was severely wounded. He was asked to abandon his tank but he realised that the enemy though badly decimated was continuing to advance in his sector of responsibility and if he abandoned his tank the enemy would break through, he gallantry fought on and destroyed another enemy tank, At this stage his tank received a second hit which resulted in the death of this gallant officer.

Second Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal was dead but he had, by his intrepid valour saved the day; the enemy was denied the breakthrough he was so desperately seeking. Not one enemy tank got through.

Second Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal had shown the best qualities of leadership, tenacity of purpose and the will to close in with the enemy. This was an act of courage and self-sacrifice far beyond the call of duty.

Connect on facebook
Join us on Facebook