Naik Bhairon Singh Rathore of the 14 BSF battalion and veteran of the 1971 war died aged 81 at AIIMS, Jodhpur on 19 December 2022, following a prolonged illness. Apart from being a veteran of the 1971 ar, he was recognised for his heroic role in the Longewala battle on the border area of Rajasthan. In the 1997 film ‘Border’, Bollywood actor Suniel Shetty played the role of this hero. Naik Rathore was admitted to AIIMS, Jodhpur on December 14, two days before the 51st anniversary of the battle. Naik Bhairon Singh Rathore was cremated at his village Solankiya Tala, around 100 km from Jodhpur with full military honours.
Rathore was stationed at the Longewala post in Jaisalmer's Thar desert, leading a tiny BSF unit of six to seven personnel and a 120 men company of the Army's 23 Punjab regiment. On December 5, 1971, it was the gallantry of these guys that devastated an attacking Pakistani brigade and tank regiment at Longewala.
Rathore, who resigned as Naik in 1987, was awarded the Sena Medal in 1972 for his bravery. As the news of his death spread, condolences and sympathies came in from throughout the country.
JP Dutta’s movie ‘Border’ has some exact scenes of the war which happened in real life, as narrated by Naik Bhairon Singh Rathore in his past interaction with the reporters. The Army taking over their station in the run-up to the war, with he and his troops showing the region to the Army Captain Dharamveer Singh (performed by actor Akshaye Khanna) and Major Kuldip Singh Chandpuri (role played by Sunny Deol) during a two day patrol. He said that it was Captain Dharamveer, who was deployed on a reconnaissance mission in the advanced region, who conveyed wireless information about the incoming Pakistani tank and foot columns to his commanders at the Longewala station.
Rathore had also revealed that when Pakistan began heavy artillery in the region, to mask the sound of the oncoming tank regiment, he had raced into the house of a reluctant local to fetch the holy Quran so that they could flee the combat zone. Rathore and his soldiers had great faith in ‘Tanot Mata’ whose temple is close to post in Jaisalmer. This scene was also portrayed in the movie.
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