Major Amit Deswal, SM


The young, brave hero from Haryana (1985-2016)

Amit was born on 15 January 1985 in village Surheti, Jhajar district, Haryana. His father, Subedar Major Rishi Ram Deswal celebrated his son’s birthday and Army Day on that day.

Amit studied in the village school and passed his high school examination from Kendriya Vidyalaya, Nasik. He graduated in 2004 from Guru Gobind Singh College Delhi and fulfilled his father`s dream by joining the Army. He stood second in the merit list of Indian Military Academy in 2005 and was commissioned in the Artillery Regiment on 10 June 2006. His father had also served in Artillery.

Amit was selected for Special Forces and transferred to the elite unit 21 Para (SF) in January 2011. He had obtained distinction in the commando course. He excelled in sports, was an outstanding cross-country runner and was called a flying machine. He was an undefeated hockey player and his troops looked up to him.

Amit was posted to Sikkim in January 2016 and got involved in Operation Hifazat. Manipur was facing a violent struggle by Zeliangrong United Front (ZUF) who had the objective of protecting the natural resources, people, land, assure individual dignity and ensure integrity of the Zeliangrong people. The Zeliangrong, a subgroup of the Nagas, formed ZUF on 25 February 2011 and vowed not to have any peace agreement with the government. The ultimate aim of the ZUF was to have a separate Zeliangrong state within the Indian Union. They openly declared their agenda on the Raising Day of 25 February 2015 and submitted their appeal in a memorandum to the Prime Minister. According to a survey report the ZUF had cadre strength of 300. With relentless hard work and excellent tactical acumen, Amit was able to check the activities of the ZUF cadre.

Credible information was received on 13 April 2016 from intelligence sources about the presence of hostile militants in a heavily wooded area in Manipur’s Tamenglong district about 30 kms off the National Highway 36. This group of the ZUF cadre declined to take part in any peace negotiations with the government. 21 Para Group was detailed to round up this group and an operation under Major Amit Deswal was launched for this task on 13 April 2016. After intensive search, the militants were located leading to an exchange of fire. Major Deswal killed an insurgent at about 7a.m. and also seized an AK 47 gun. The other militants managed to flee into the dense forest. Amit continued to search for them and located them at 4 p.m. at a site about 20 kms away from the highway. A fierce exchange of fire ensued in which Amit received six bullet wounds and succumbed to the injuries. His body was recovered from a remote site in Manipur. Amit had displayed exemplary courage and leadership in carrying out this mission for which he was awarded Sena Medal (SM).

Amit is survived by his wife Neeta and their three-and-half year old son Arjun. Amit`s body was kept in Assam for two days due to bad weather where the Army paid tributes to him. It was then flown to Delhi. The Army Chief, General Suhag, also paid tribute to him. The body was brought in a special helicopter to his village where a large crowd had gathered to pay tribute to their hero. Amidst shouts of “Amit amar rahe”, the body was cremated with full military honours. His brother lit the pyre as the gun salute roared in presence of former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda several political, military and civil officers.

Neeta Deswal too decided to join the Army as a Short Service officer. The Haryana Government had offered a civilian job to her but she chose to serve in the army. She worked hard to qualify in the selection board tests and had full support of her family.

Brigadier Suresh Chandra Sharma (retd.)