When did you know the path your life was going take? Was it in high school or college? Are you still trying to find your calling in life?
Unlike many, Lieutenant Hitesh Kumar made that decision when he was just six-years-old. It was June 12, 1999, when Hitesh’s father, Lance Naik Bachan Singh, was killed in action at Tololing, a mountain ridge overlooking the town of Drass in Kargil district. When Hitesh heard the news, his grief was accompanied by a stern determination that one day he would follow in his father’s steps.
Exactly 19 years later, Hitesh was commissioned into the Indian Army as a lieutenant after graduating from the Indian Military Academy in Dehradun. Making matters better, Hitesh will serve in the second Battalion of Rajputana Rifles—the same unit his father served.
Lieutenant Hitesh told news agency ANI, “My father was my inspiration, and I’ve seen my mother’s struggles very closely.” He passed out from the IMA on June 9.
There is a memorial dedicated to Lance Naik Bachan Singh in the civil lines area of Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, and after Hitesh graduated, the family reportedly went to pay their respects.
“For 19 years, I dreamt of joining the Army. It became my mother’s (Kamesh Bala) dream too. Now, I want to serve my country with pride and honesty,” Hitesh told The Times of India.
Lieutenant Hitesh has a twin brother, Hemant, who also harbours dreams of joining the Indian Army. Born on October 23, 1994, Hitesh is a minute younger than Hemant. After his father’s death, Kamesh sent Hitesh to the Rashtriya Military School at Chail in Himachal Pradesh.
Despite studying commerce at the prestigious Shri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC) and avenues opening up for admission into Faculty of Management or a successful corporate career, Hitesh maintained an unwavering dedication towards joining the army.
“There were lots of options to go for a career in management, but my heart was always with the army,” the young lieutenant told ANI.
“For me, life without being in the Army was unthinkable. I had decided that if I fail to do so, I will join the paramilitary forces. After school, I cleared the NDA’s written exam but failed to clear the interview,” Lt Hitesh, tells SSB Crack.
For Kamesh, having another loved one in a profession wrought with extreme danger is both a matter of great pride and concern.
“It has been a difficult life since Bachan was martyred. I dedicated my life to raising my two sons. Today, I am proud that Hitesh was commissioned into the Army. His younger brother, Hemant, is also preparing to join the Army. There is nothing more I could ask for,” Kamesh told The Times of India, while paying her respect at Lance Naik Bachan Singh’s memorial.
Bachan Singh was with the 2nd Battalion of Rajputana Rifles which secured Tololing, a significant landmark for the Indian forces in the devastating Kargil War. Capturing Tololing laid the basis for further assaults on Pakistani forces. However, the battle was exceedingly brutal with fighting lasting over three weeks and causing more than 100 casualties.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)