Updated December 26th, 2023 at 12:55 IST
Braveheart's Final Chapter: Lt Col Karanbir Singh Natt’s ‘service before self’ and a nation's grief
Lieutenant Colonel Karanbir Singh Natt's heroic journey, marred by an encounter in Kupwara in 2015, concludes as he breathes his last in Jalandhar.
In a poignant culmination of a heroic odyssey that began on the unforgiving terrains of Kupwara in 2015, Lieutenant Colonel Karanbir Singh Natt, Sena Medal, breathed his last on Saturday at the Military Hospital in Jalandhar. The eight-year-long struggle, both within the corridors of hospitals and the hearts of the nation, reached its solemn conclusion.
Lt Col Natt's journey into the annals of Indian military history commenced in 1998 when he was commissioned as a Short Service Commission officer in The Brigade of Guards. Serving with unwavering dedication for 14 years, he bid adieu in 2012 only to rekindle his commitment by joining the Territorial Army—a testament to his undying dedication to serving the nation, while leading a life less ordinary.
The fateful encounter in Kupwara: November 25, 2015
It was in November of 2015 when Lt Col Natt’s life took an unexpected turn. Serving as the second-in-command of 160 Territorial Army Battalion, Lt Col Natt was leading a combing operation in the Haji Naka village near the Line of Control in Kupwara on November 25, 2015. It was during this operation that a terrorist's bullet shattered his lower jaw, creating a wound that transcended the physical realm.
Notably, the 7.62mm bullet fired from a Kalashnikov rifle slipped into one of the many chinks of the body armour comprising a bulletproof jacket and the Patka helmet. The incident occurred merely five days after the nation lost Colonel Santosh Mahadik, the commanding officer of 41st Battalion of Rashtriya Rifles, in the same area. However, unlike Colonel Santosh Mahadik, Lieutenant Colonel Karanbir Singh Natt survived the gunshot wound.
Resilience: A fight for survival
The subsequent days became a medical drama, with the Army Medical Corps (AMC) team playing the role of unsung heroes. Emergency tracheotomy, blood transfusions, and a series of surgeries became chapters in a battle fought not on the battleground but within the walls of the Military Hospital in Srinagar and later in the Army Research and Referral Hospital in New Delhi.
The uniqueness of Lt Col Natt's injuries posed unprecedented challenges. The lower half of his face was grievously injured, and yet, his spirit remained unbroken. The AMC team, akin to medical commandoes, executed intricate medical maneuvers to stabilize him. Subsequent EEG and MRI scans revealed no damage to the brain or spine—a testament to his indomitable will and the tenacity of medical expertise.
Legacy of sacrifice and unwavering family support
Hailing from the village of Dhadiala Natt near Batala, Lt Col Natt leaves behind a legacy marked not only by his bravery on the battlefield but also by the resilience displayed in the aftermath of that fateful encounter. His sacrifice resonates as a poignant reminder of the unpredictable challenges faced by our armed forces in the line of duty.
Lt Col Natt is survived by his wife Navpreet Kaur and daughters Guneet and Ashmeet. Their unwavering support and sacrifices reflect the shared commitment of military families who stand by their loved ones in both triumph and tragedy.
As the nation mourns the loss of this valiant officer, Lt Col Natt's memory lives on as a symbol of courage and sacrifice. His journey, from the gallant battlegrounds of Kupwara to the quiet corridors of a hospital, is a testament to the extraordinary individuals who stand guard at the frontlines of our nation's security. In the echoes of a final salute, Lt Col Karanbir Singh Natt etches his place in the annals of our nation's history—a hero, forever remembered.
Published December 26th, 2023 at 12:21 IST