It was Monday late evening that Tarlok Singh got a phone call from Army officials in Ludhiana. His youngest brother Sepoy Gurtej Singh has been awarded Vir Chakra posthumously. Gurtej, 23, was killed in Galwan valley while fending off the Chinese troops on June 16 last year. Later, Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh recounted the fearless soldier had killed the Chinese invaders with his bare hands.
Tarlok wept after he heard the news. “I am overwhelmed, I feel proud of my brother but I wish he was here to receive this honour.” Youngest of three brothers, Gurtej was born in Beerewala Dogra village of Mansa district of Punjab. The family was celebrating the wedding of his elder brother Gurpreet even they got the news about Gurtej’s death in action on June 17. “It was a terrible time for us. My mother is yet to come to terms with his death.”
Gurtej’s father Virsa Singh is a marginal farmer with two and a half acres of land. Virsa and his wife Parkash Kaur had slept by the time the gallantry award was announced.
Tarlok said,” We will tell them tomorrow morning. They break down after remembering him and don’t sleep for hours after that.”
The family is part of the agitation against farm laws and Virsa was at Delhi border for a week last month. Tuesday Virsa has been called at district level function in Mansa while Parkash Kaur, Gurtej’s mother has been invited to Government Senior Secondary School, Reond Kalan village where Gurtej had studied. Five more boys of Beerewala Dogra are in Army while Reond Kalan has sent over 50 boys to the Army. Gurtej was greatly inspired by the stories of soldiers there. That is why he decided to join the army at an early age, his family shared.
“Gurtej made us all so proud, his heroic deeds are a source of inspiration for many,” says Tarlok, who works for a tractor company at Kota.