Movies, books and popular culture have gotten us so familiarise with the fancy picture of what heroes look like, that when presented in any other form, we are unable to recognise them. Did you know that the first living being in space was a dog? Laika, the dog who did not make it back to Earth, did however help gather substantial information.
Closer to home is Kanneganti Hanumanthu, a name you’ve probably not heard of. This admirable freedom fighter who led a fierce revolt against the British in Palnadu region over the payment of tax. He died when he was just 30, shot dead by the British, as a direct cause of leading a revolt against tax payment. We pay quiet homage to all lesser-known heroes of the past and present below, with a look at their inspiring stories.
Captain Vikram Batra
A hero of the 1999 Kargil War, Captain Vikram Batra was instrumental in recovering Peak 5140. The hilltop was situated at a height of 17,000 feet from the enemy. In a critical situation with abundant, lifethreatening obstacles, Vikram Batra faced the challenge with determination and recovered the peak. An unforeseen enemy counterattack did cut his life short, but not before he had managed to recapture Peak 5140. His last words were, ‘Jai Mata Di’.
Abhishek Bachchan played Batra’s part in the film LOC Kargil.
Acharya N. G. Ranga
Acharya N. G.Ranga joined the Indian Freedom Movement in response to Mahatma Gandhi's call in 1930. He led the riot agitation in 1933, and went on to found the Kisan Congress. He had many discussions with Gandhi about the state of the farmers, and was even in Parliament for 6 decades from 1931 to 1991.
He is still considered as the father of the Indian peasant movement.
A devout follower of the Father of our Nation, Pingali Venkayya was also known as Diamond Venkayya for his knowledge about Diamond Mining. He did research on cotton farming as well.
However, his major contribution would be designing the flag on which the Indian National Flag was later based.
The nation stood horrified at the news of the brutal gang rape of Nirbhaya the morning after December 16, 2012. However, the man who would least like to recollect that night is Avanindra Pandey. Nirbhaya's friend and sole eyewitness to the terrible rape, he is the only person who can recount the 84 minutes of horror. Overpowered by six men – less like men and more like monsters, he tried to save his friend in his semi-conscious state despite being punched and attacked.
Not only does the world need friends like him, but also men like him.
Chief Hemant Karkare of the Mumbai Anti-Terrorist Squad was integral in the 26/11 terrorist attacks. Also credited with solving the serial bombing cases in Thane, Vashi and Panvel, and leading the investigation of the 2008 Malegaon blasts, he was shot thrice in the chest and died on the spot during the attacks. His act of bravery was honoured with a posthumous Ashok Chakra on January 26, 2009.
Heroes don’t always wear capes, and are not always conspicuous in a crowd. They are, however, the true gems of our society. These men walked amongst us, proving that a true hero emerges when the need arises. We can only hope they have inspired you to do the same!
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