Updated April 13th, 2024 at 17:15 IST

Major Amit Deswal: A legacy of love, courage, and sacrifice in the heart of Manipur

The nation mourned Major Amit Deswal's supreme sacrifice, honoring him with the posthumous "Sena Medal" after an operation in Manipur in 2016.

Reported by: Yuvraj Tyagi
The legacy of Major Amit Deswal echoes through Surheti, not just in tales of heroism but in the resilient spirit of his widow. | Image:ADGPI

In the quaint village of Surheti in Haryana, where whispers of valor echo through the winds, a tale unfolded—a tale of a son, a soldier, and a soul draped in courage. Major Amit Deswal, a name etched in the annals of heroism, was not just a man; he was a force, a testament to the resolute nature that defines the finest in our armed forces. 

Born on a chilly January day in 1985, Major Amit Deswal's journey began in the warm embrace of an army veteran's family. His father, Subedar Major Rishi Ram Deswal, and mother, Smt Vedvati, nurtured a spirit destined for the call of duty. Amidst the fields of Surheti, Amit's childhood unfolded—a precursor to the unwritten chapters of bravery that awaited. 


From the academy to Special Forces

Education beckoned, leading Amit from the village lanes to the corridors of Kendriya Vidyalaya Nasik. The nomadic life dictated by his father's postings sculpted a resilient spirit, a spirit that found its true calling in the hallowed grounds of the Guru Govind Singh College Delhi, where Amit completed his graduation in 2004.

A newly commissioned Lt Amit Deswal with his family during the pipping ceremony. (Credit- Honourpoint)

His tryst with destiny unfolded on June 10, 2006, when he donned the olive-green uniform, marking the commencement of a journey destined for greatness. A chapter of unparalleled valor was added when he joined the elite 21 Para (SF) unit in January 2011, becoming a living embodiment of grit and determination. 

At the "Ghatak Course," where legends are born, Amit Deswal carved his name in the annals of distinction, earning the title of "Commando Dagger – Best Student." Physically indomitable and mentally unyielding, he embraced every challenge, a precursor to the battles that awaited him. Ghatak Platoons are specialized reconnaissance platoons integrated into each infantry battalion of the Indian Army. These platoons are designed to perform special operations and carry out reconnaissance tasks in support of the battalion's overall mission.


In the tapestry of life, love found its way to Amit's heart. He married the love of his life, Ms Neeta Bisht, and together they welcomed a son, Arjun. Little did they know that destiny had woven a tale where love would be tested, and sacrifices would be made. 

In the winter of 2016, Amit Deswal found himself in Manipur, a land that would bear witness to the crescendo of his heroism. Operation Hifazat II became the stage where his resolute nature would unfold in the face of adversity. 


Operation Hifazat (Manipur): April 13, 2016

As the clock struck 3:30 AM on that April day, troops from 21 Para (SF) embarked on a mission that would etch their names in history. Maj Amit Deswal led the operation from the front, reaffirming the Chetwode motto followed by the Indian Army. Army intelligence had received inputs of a splinter group of Naga insurgents operating in a heavily forested area 30 km off National Highway 36. These insurgents were not part of a peace process with the Indian government. The unit had received credible information from intelligence sources about the presence of militants in an area 30 km off the National Highway 36. 


In the dense forests of Tamenglong district, Manipur, a fierce firefight ensued. The shadows whispered tales of heroism as Major Amit Deswal confronted Naga insurgents. As dawn painted the sky, an AK-47 lay silent as Major Amit killed the first terrorist at 7 AM, and the forest absorbed the echoes of a battle fought with valor.

Yet, destiny had more pages to turn. In the waning light of that fateful evening, Maj Amit Deswal faced a renewed challenge- to locate the remaining insurgents who earlier managef to escape during the firefight. As the sun dipped below the horizon, Maj Amit Deswal led his men in the ensuing search operation and tracked down the remaining insurgents at around 4 PM in the evening. During the heavy exchange of fire, Major Amit Deswal was shot twice. Adorned in the armor of bravery, he succumbed to the wounds inflicted by the enemy.  


In the silence that followed, Manipur stood witness to a hero's sacrifice, a sacrifice that resonated in every rustle of the leaves and every heartbeat of his comrades. The forest bore witness to a battle where bullets became poetry, and courage danced with fate. 

The nation mourned, and the echoes of Taps played softly in the wind. Maj Amit Deswal, the son of Surheti, had become a legend—a legend of unyielding spirit, sacrifice, and undying love for the tricolor. For his valor, the nation bestowed upon him the "Sena Medal," a tribute that paled in comparison to the immortality he achieved in the hearts of those who knew him. 


Legacy continues: The echo of love and resilience 

In the aftermath of tragedy, Neeta, his beloved wife, stood at the crossroads of grief and determination. Fate had taken away her love, but it couldn't extinguish the flame of her spirit. The tale of Major Amit Deswal didn't end with his sacrifice; it found a continuation in the resolute heart of his widow.

Lt Neeta Deswal followed her late husband's footsteps and got commissioned into the Indian Army. (Credit- Honourpoint)

Determined to carry forward the legacy, Neeta decided to don the olive green herself. Her journey from tears to triumph became a saga of hope, perseverance, and empowerment. Through the hallowed halls of OTA Chennai, where cadets much younger tread, Neeta emerged not just as a soldier but as a testament to the indomitable human spirit. 

In 2018, she became Capt Neeta Deswal, a beacon of inspiration for her son Arjun and a symbol of hope for every young woman dreaming of breaking barriers. Her journey mirrored the resilience of the mountains that surrounded Surheti, standing tall against the storms of life. In honoring Major Amit Deswal, we don't just celebrate a life; we celebrate an emotion—an emotion that transcends the pages of a novel and reverberates in the hearts of a grateful nation. The echoes of Surheti will forever carry the saga of Major Amit Deswal—the man, the hero, and the eternal flame of courage. 


Published November 17th, 2023 at 14:16 IST