The Battle of Basantar: Lt Arun Khetarpal alone destroyed 7 Pakistani tanks during the 1971 war, let’s salute him

In the year 1971, the Battle of Basantar took place between India and Pakistan, in which the recipient of Param Vir Chakra “Arun Khetarpal” fought with full courage and played a great role in the victory for Indian Army. 

The Pakistan Air Force launched pre-emptive strikes on India on the eve of December 3, 1971, India immediately responded in the wee hours of December 4. 

Arun Khetarpal, who had just joined the Indian Army as a second lieutenant, took part in the war and fought like a tiger. He played a great role during the war. Arun Khetarpal was born in Pune, Maharashtra on 14 October 1950. Lieutenant came from an Army family because his grandfather served in the British Indian army during World War I and his father, Brigadier M.L. Khetarpal, served in the Indian Army’s Engineering Corps till he retired from service. Khetarpal did his schooling from Sanawar’s prestigious Lawrence School.

Arun had always a desire to serve in the Indian Army, right from his childhood. He cleared National Defence Academy (NDA) in 1967 and was inducted into the 17 Poona Horse on June 3, 1971.

Six months later, Pakistan waged a full-fledged war against India. Lieutenant Arun was commanding 47th Infantry Brigade of the Indian Army. the regiment was ordered to establish a bridgehead across the Basantar river in the Shakargarh sector. 

Keeping in mind the importance of this position, the 47th Brigade responded with courage, building the bridgehead by 15 December 1971. They created a safe lane that allowed the induction of the 17 Poona Horse tanks. Unfortunately, Khetarpal sustained grievous injuries and enemies set his tank on fire. However, Arun was instructed by his superior to withdraw but the young officer refused to take his steps back, he rather continued to keep moving forward. Arun Khetarpal said, “No sir, I will not abandon my tank. My gun is still working and I will get these bastards”

Fighting till his last breath, Arun destroyed two more Pakistani tanks and forced one enemy to abandon his tank before he was martyred. But by then, he had destroyed 7 tanks of enemies.

(Photo: The Better India)

The following days witnessed India’s resounding victory in the Battle of Basantar which resulted in the capture of a significant area (including nearly 500 villages) under the control of Pakistan in Chhamb sector, apart from cutting off the line of retreat for Pakistani troops.

But victory came with a huge loss for the Indian Army. Seven officers, four junior commissioned officers, and 24 other soldiers lost their lives while defending the nation. All soldiers fought with courage in order to protect the sovereignty and integrity of India. We also lost a great warrior Lt Arun Khetarpal who was later honored with the Param Vir Chakra for showing courage, inspiring his army during the war and led the army to victory. 

Lt Arun Khetarpal was the youngest recipient of India’s highest Gallantry Award (Param Vir Chakra

). Soldiers like Arun Khetarpal will always be remembered by generation. Lt Khetarpal is the epitome of bravery and the Nation salutes him for his bravery. 

Badlapur director Raghavan confirmed that he is making a movie named “Ekkees” the biopic of late Second Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal who led his army to victory for the Indian army and won Param Vir Chakra. Raghavan will collaborate with actor Varun Dhawan on the project. Varun took to social media to express his views about the movie saying, “It was always my dream to play a soldier of India, can’t wait to bring on screen the spectacular tale of 2/LT Arun Khetarpal.”


Writer, historian, and activist Dharam Sikarwar is a very active author The Youth. He writes on national and international issues, environment, politics. He is an avid book reader as well.