Home Feature Salute to Comdt NN Mishra – Gallantry Personified

Salute to Comdt NN Mishra – Gallantry Personified

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By Lt Colonel Rohit Mishra (Retd)

Six August, 1989, was not just another regular Sunday for us. My mother, sister and I were all getting ready to go out for a picnic organised by my father’s friend and colleague from CRPF, Commandant Christodoss at Awantipora, approximately 25 kilometres away from Srinagar, J&K. The excitement was palpable.

Back then, Kashmir was a peaceful state with sporadic cases of stone pelting. The violence, perhaps, visible only after an India-Pakistan cricket match, though the first bomb blast had happened in July, just a month before!

We kids decide to climb up the spur leading to the Awantipora Ridgeline. On reaching halfway, we turned around to look at the valley just to see two jawans frantically waving at us, thinking that we were in trouble and so we ran back downhill. The atmosphere there was suddenly confusing as the music had stopped and every face looked somber. Mom was crying and, on seeing us, got up and without saying a word held us both with our hands and walked out. We were utterly confused and scared, we kept asking her what was wrong and so, finally, when she managed to gain some composure, she said what she had always feared ‘Your father has been shot’.

Commandant NN Mishra, PPMG, PMG, PMS, – Dad, the incorrigible soldier!

We three siblings had grown listening to his tales of bravery from the uncles and jawans of CRPF. He was already a legend of sorts in his organisation, having won a President’s Police Medal for Gallantry (the highest gallantry award for police personnel) for a Bollywood style daredevil raid on an insurgent camp in the thick jungles of Manipur in 1980.

Everybody was always in awe of him. He had that pleasing personality and ready humour that worked like a charm. A friend who could always be trusted in hard times. Dad never touched a drink in his life but the man loved to party, he was always high on life and he loved every bit of it. Being stationed in Kashmir during peace time and also responsible for the security of the Bollywood crews shooting for films, we had a stream of Bollywood personalities walking in and out of our house.

His men followed him blindly. I witnessed the loyalty that his men had for him much later in 1997. By the time I was myself in the Army and carrying out covert Counter-Terrorist operations in the Kashmir valley. An inspector who had served under him helped me out in a covert operation spread over three days. In doing so he put his life and service at great risk (including a suspension or dismissal). But that’s a story for another day.

On that fateful Sunday in August of ‘89, Dad had sustained bullet injuries in an operation in the Taran Taran District of Punjab. His citation read that he led his troops from the front in chasing a notorious self- styled area commander of the infamous Khalistan movement and that, with utter disregard to his personal safety, kept the terrorists engaged till they were neutralised. In this gunfight, he suffered a bullet injury and, inspite of the profuse bleeding, he kept firing and moving forward till he could proceed no further and fell down. For this conspicuous act of bravery he was later awarded the Police Medal for Gallantry.

My father got posted back to Kashmir after his short stint in Punjab. Two months after the incident when his leg was still in a cast, Kashmiri insurgents attacked our house in the dead of night. I had heard tales of him in action, but that night I saw the mettle my father was made of. I saw him tear off the cast, pick up his AK-47, pass orders in a calm yet crisp manner, ensure my mother, sister and my safety and then rush out to retaliate against the provocation. That was also the last time I saw him hold a crutch.

Dad passed away on 8 April, 2023, the day CRPF celebrates Shaurya Divas, a day to honour their brave. Watching the soldiers of CRPF give him a send off befitting a celebrated soldier, I knew he would be watching us from up there, smiling. And I also know that heavens would be a much safer place for all now that he was there.