As India marched into its 72nd year of Independence, Republic TV broadcast a special show - ‘Heroes of India,’ celebrating the real Indians, who have contributed to our freedoms as we know it. Through the show, Republic TV celebrated the soul of India - from the naval dockyard in Kochi to Maitri Gate in Dawki, from the Nadabet International Border to Srinagar and Wagah. Through the special broadcast, Republic TV celebrated the heroes of India, hidden in the corners of our country with the greatest sacrifices paid for this nation, with the most heart wrenching struggles combatted, and all done quietly.
The first guest in the show was Bandipora Braveheart Chetan Cheetah, who valiantly fought terrorists on February 14, 2017 and survived 9 bullets. Exuding a never-say-die attitude, Chetan Kumar Cheetah recollected the time he regained consciousness in the hospital and said:
"I'm a soldier. I'm trained to work like this. In spite of getting such grievous injuries, when I was in the hospital, in my mind was whether I'd be able to come back into service."
Next guest on the show was Neha Tripathi, the wife of CRPF martyr Pramod Kumar. Pramod Kumar was martyred in Srinagar, fighting terrorists on Independence Day back in 2016. The CRPF martyr took bullet on his head to save his colleagues. India honoured the CRPF jawan's bravery by awarding him with Kirti Chakra, the second highest peacetime gallantry medal for his heroism on August 16, 2017. Now, the 7-year-old daughter of CRPF Pramod Kumar aspires to be a soldier like her father, she wants to "avenge" him.
Republic TV traced the journey of Captain Shalini Singh, who lost her husband Major Avinash in a battle with terrorists. However, even after her profound loss, Captain Shalini fought against odds and became role model for many. She quit her post graduation to prepare for SSB interview. Captain Shalini trained at the Officers Training Academy, Chennai and became a commissioned officer in Indian Army in 2002. After serving the nation for five years, she quit Army to be with her son. But, she didn't stop there. Later, in 2017, she won Mrs India Queen of Substance title in 2017.
Next hero on the show was Paramveer Chakra awardee Naib Subedar Sanjay Kumar. Subedar Sanjay is a Kargil hero, who went beyond the call of duty while leading scout of a team to Area Flat Top. Naib Subedar went firing towards enemy bunker during Kargil war and killed three intruders in hand-to-hand combat and also captured area held by Pakistani troops.
The feisty and unstoppable Tarini girls were the next guests on the show. The INSV Tarini team conquered the toughest waters by circumnavigating the globe in seven months. By completing the historic journey, these six Indian Navy officers made 'Navika Sagar Parikrama' a slogan.
Daughters of war Neha and Diksha Dwivedi also appeared on Republic TV's special broadcast. For the daughters of Kargil martyr Major CB Dwivedi their father lives on in their stories. And, 19 years later, their father's valour lives on as they authored a book titled 'Letters From Kargil'. The book highlights how soldiers and fight adversities.
Major Randhawa is the first woman officer to join the Indian Army after her husband died in the line of action. Major Randhawa joined the Army 20 years ago, after her husband died fighting for the nation. However, the grave loss didn't deter her spirit. She followed her martyred husband's path to join the Armed forces.
The next life-story on the show was of courage and determination. COBRA Commando and CRPF jawan Bhogade Ramdas Bhau lost his legs in a Maoist blast in Sukma in Chhattisgarh. The CRPF jawan got critically injured after an IED blast and lost both his legs in the mishap. However, the loss didn't deter his grit and bravado as three months after the blast, he returned to serve the country by rejoining the 208 COBRA troops.
Lt Colonel Sophia Qureshi scripted history as she became the first woman officer to lead an Army contingent. She is the only woman leader among 18 contingents. Lt Col Qureshi has led the Indian Army contingent at multi-national military exercise. She has also led her contingent at 'Exercise Force 18'. She has also served in UN Peacekeeping operation in Congo in 2006. Lt Col Sophia Qureshi is currently serving as an officer from corps of signals of Indian Army. She appeared in the special show with her husband Major Tajuddin Qureshi.
Next, on the show was Pokhran secret keeper Colonel Gopal Kaushik. Colonel Kaushik headed the headed the 58th regiment of Army Corps of engineers, who were overseeing a top secret operation to conduct nuclear explosions - 'Operation Shakti'. Colonel Kaushik hoodwinked and outfoxed the Western Intelligence CIA by ensuring that Operation Shakti remained a secret. The nuclear explosions were conducted in 1998 and ensured that India joined the elite nuclear club.
Even as the country has seen 71 years of independence, for many the fight to keep democracy ignited continues. One of these is Amarendra Dhaneshwar, who spent time in jail fighting for his beliefs. He stood up for democracy during the Emergency, imposed by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, and was jailed for doing so. He was arrested for helping socialist leaders. Even now, he refused to accept pension offered by the Maharashtra government to compensate for the years he spent behind bars - his reason - "will not burden the exchequer with my expenses".
Dr Suresh Khairnar fought for people's rights during the Emergency imposed by the Indira Gandhi government. Dr Khairnar was lodged in Amravati jail for the entire emergency period. Currently a Rashtriya Seva Dal member, Dr khairnar opposed the pension offered by state government to leaders who fought during the emergency, saying he "cannot claim pension for taking a stand".
Jitendra Gurjar, a watchman, uses the tool of words to comfort the families of martyrs. To pay tribute to those who sacrificed their lives for the country he started writing letters to their kin. Since the 1999 Kargil war, he started writing letters to martyrs' families. Gurjar has written over 4000 letters so far. Sometimes his letters provide words of comfort, sometimes words of pride in the sacrifice and sometimes just a message of solace that Gurjar offers to the grieving families.
Padma Shri Piyush Pandey is a man who redefined advertising in India. Pandey is the man behind many iconic and path breaking ad campaigns, for which he has received countless awards and even international recognition. For the National Creative Director of O&M India, Pandey, a major breakthrough was when he became the first Asian Jury president at the Cannes Film Festival in 2004.
In the special broadcast, Republic TV also traced the inspiring journey of Sarabjeet Singh, who has dedicated his life to social work, Singh who is also lovingly known as "vella Bobby" in his native place Shimla, serves both the living and the dead. the businessman-turned philanthropist provides free food to cancer patients and also funeral vans to helpless fammilies. Singh also organises blood donation camps in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh. His motto, says Singh, is 'serving humanity and serving people', his dream is 'no one should sleep hungry'. And, his mission, Singh adds, is 'creating more chapati banks'.
After losing his 16-year-old son in a pothole accident, Dadarao Bilhore has waged a war against apathy. Bilhore has been filling potholes using his bare hands since 2015 and has filled over 500 potholes in 3 years. Bilhore has also created a mobile app called 'Spothole'. The app helps citizens locating potholes. The man in on a mission against killer potholes and says that he doesn't want "anyone to suffer like I did". His mission, he says, is "safer streets for Mumbaikars".
Deepa Malik is a Paralympic Silver medalist, who scripted history in 2016 by achieving the feat at the Rio Paralympics. Speaking to Republic TV, Malik spoke about the reason behind her success and how she managed to make the nation proud.
"I think the one thing that has helped me definitely is the positive attitude, and the whole concept of following the journey of learning. I never stopped learning. Even today, going to the training area inspite of having a Olympic-level medal in paralympics, I still say I go there to learn," said Deepa Malik.
Anoop Kumar Khanna. the man behind 'Dada Ki Rasoi' is helping those who can't fend for themselves. The good Samaritan from Noida helps over 500 people every single day by serving piping hot meals for Rs 5 to those who don't have a roof over their heads. For Khanna, a freedom fighter's son, his aim is to "make roti,, kapda, dawai accessible to poor". And his motto is "small steps can make big difference".
Irfan Macchiwala and Mushtaq Ansari are two Mumbaikars whose mission is to help the city commuters in any way they can. They are on a mission to rid the city of Mumbai of killer potholes. Their fight is for a pothole free Mumbai and for that they are doing what the civic bodies should have done.
Dev Kumar Verma is sparking a new revolution by empowering young India in 'Dev Ki Paathshala' - a school that provides free education to underprivileged children till class 5. Verma runs three schools, where he provides these kids with quality education. Verma also spent 40% of his salary to provide the children with books, commute to get to school and proper meals.
Varun Bhati is an athlete par excellence, whose physical disability couldn't deter his strength. The 23-year-old para-athlete defied all odds, overcame every obstacle to win Bronze at Rio Paralympic Games, making India proud. Bhati has won several laurels and medals and has represented India at various International events, too.
Mumbai's whistleblower cop Sunil Bhagwantrao Toke is an ASI who is on a mission to expose the rot in the police. In his 33-year-long career, Toke has been transferred 12 times. He has been targeted by the people in his own department and has also been fighting unimaginable pressure from his bosses. Toke, recently, sought permission from the Maharashtra CM to end his own life, claiming pressure to retrieve his PIL on corruption.
In Republic TV's special broadcast celebrating real heroes and their untold stories, appeared a hero who doesn't wear a cape. Rajaram Joshi is a fisherman, who has been giving people second chance at life. Rajaram Joshi has saved several lives of those attempting suicide off of Mumbai's Vashi bridge. Joshi has rescued over 37 lives so far, without thinking twice about risking his own life. When he was just 12 years old, he saved a 7-year-old child from drowning. His mantra in life, says Joshi, is "life always gives you a second chance".
Major General Vikram Dev Dogra has redefined fitness by becoming the first serving army officer to have completed the world famous 'Ironman Triathlon'. Taking his penchant for fitness a notch higher, Major General Dogra completed the triathlon in 14 hours, completing the challenge 3 hours before the given time. During the challenge, he completed a 4 km swim, a 180 km bicycle ride and a 42 km marathon run..
26-year-old Divij Shah lost his right hand, but never lost hope. Even after losing his hand at the age of 4, he overcame all kinds of obstacles to become a para-cyclist. The 26-year-old has won 2 silver medals at international sports meet. Shah is now preparing for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.