Vikram was born on 24 October 1973 in a military family to Lt. Col. PKPV Panicker and Kalyani Panicker at Panniyankara, Kallai in Kozhikode district, Kerala. His early education was at the various Kendriya Vidyalaya schools where his father was posted.
Vikram passed his XII class from KV, Faridkot in Punjab. He graduated in computer science in 1994 from NSS College, Ottapalam in Kerala. He was keen to join the Army right from his childhood and had joined the NCC in the college. He passed the “C” certificate examination of the NCC and joined the Indian Military Academy. He was commissioned into Madhya Pradesh-based 141 Field Regiment of Artillery on 8 June 1996. His father had also served in this regiment.
The boundary between India and Pakistan held Kashmir is defined by the Line of Control (LOC). Posts have been established across the line by both the armies to ensure security. There had been occasional cross firing and shelling but no large scale intrusions after the 1971 Indo-Pak war. Some of the posts are at high altitude and are subject to extreme cold and heavy snow fall. In Kargil sector the Indian Army used to vacate some such posts during winter and re-occupy them after winter.
In February 1999, the Pakistan Army occupied some of these posts on the Indian side. Troops from the northern Light Infantry and Special Services Group were used for this operation. Pakistan established bases on 132 vantage points in lower Mushkoh Valley, Batalik, Dras, Kaskar, Turtok and Kargil sectors.
The intrusion was not detected by the Indian Army as no patrols had been sent to this area. The first report of occupation of the posts by Pakistan was given to the Indian Army by local shepherds. The Indian Army initially presumed the intruders to be militants. On discovering the extent of infiltration, it was realized that a major operation was required for evicting the intruders. The aim of Pakistan was to internationalise the Kashmir issue and support the militants. India inducted troops from outside Kashmir and employed the Air Force as well with instructions not to hit targets beyond the LOC. The Navy also prepared to block the Pakistani ports.
The first priority for the Indian Army was to regain the posts close to the highway. It was a tough task as it was a broken terrain. The enemy had well dug in with artillery and mortar support. The Indian Army gradually drove the enemy from the posts close to the highway and suffered high casualties.
Captain Vikram’s unit, 141 Field Regiment was rushed in and deployed in Kaskar sector of Kargil region. Captain Vikram was the Forward Observation Officer with 4 JAT unit tasked to capture Bajrang Post at a height of 17,500 feet. He went through artillery barrage and displayed exceptional courage directing accurate fire on enemy bunker in spite of domination by enemy post. A mortar bomb fell close to Vikram as he was directing fire. He was injured severely and succumbed to the injuries on 2 June 1999. He was awarded Sena Medal on 15 August 1999 for his courage and leadership.
His father who worked in Bangalore rushed to Kozhikode on learning about the supreme sacrifice made by his son. His comment was “My son has accomplished what I could not and I am proud of him. I fought in two wars but I could not sacrifice my life for the country. He has sacrificed his life for the nation. I have no regrets.”
Hundreds had gathered at their house to pay Vikram their last respects when the body arrived and later at the funeral.
Vikram is survived by his father, veteran Lt Col PKPV Panicker, mother Kalyani Panicker, who is a school principal and brother PV Keshav who is a dentist. His parents instituted a trophy in memory of Vikram. .