No Indian can forget the fateful night of 26/11 when terrorists from Pakistan entered Mumbai and wrecked havoc in the city. Mumbai police lost its eminent officers like Karkare in the operation and asked for the help from outside.
It was then when NSG and MARCOS commandos came in the picture. MARCOS is an elite group of specially trained commando who are always ready to take any challenge head on.
Today we will be talking with one such commando and a great son of Mother India, MARCOS Praveen Kumar Teotia. Praveen Teotia was part of the MARCOS team which entered Taj Hotel to eliminate the terrorists.
He got severely injured during an operation. He got shot in his ear and on chest. But as they say, a soldier only takes rest once he finishes his task, so he continued to fight.
For his extraordinary valor, Praveen Teotia was awarded the Shaurya Chakra by The President of India.
Praveen Teotia has also won the title of IRONMAN by winning a Triathlon championship in South Africa. Triathlon is a multisport race with three continuous and sequential endurance races, includes swimming (3.86 km), cycling (180.2 km), and running (42.2km) over various distances. He has also finished 72km Ladakh marathon, known as Khadurang-La Challenge Ultra Marathon. He further plans to climb The Everest.
We have got this golden opportunity to ask a few questions to our Iron Man, so let’s begin:
Rightlog: Hello Sir! Thank you for giving us your valuable time, I’d like to ask that as we know, a soldier has to go through very demanding situations in his professional life. Despite of threat to his life, soldier does not mind to lock horns with the challenges. Can you please tell our readers as how does a soldier overpower the fear of death?
Praveen Teotia: MARCOS are trained really well. They are trained in a way that they can go beyond their limits. We know our job, and we know it well before we join forces. If you’re best in what you do, then there’s no stopping. If you’re a professional, then I don’t think you need to have fear of any circumstances. Love for your country makes you push your limits.
RL: What was your first reaction when you got to know that you’re going to be the part of an operation to eliminate the terrorists from Taj Hotel?
PT: It pumped all of us. Our first priority was to save civilians and to avoid a situation of hostage. We analyzed the pattern and planning of the terrorists so that we can outthink them and counter them effectively.
RL: In our country not a lot of people know about MARCOS. Youth is not much aware of these elite forces, be it MARCOS, be it Para SF or be it NSG. Can you tell our readers about MARCOS, and how can anyone join it?
PT: Being part of MARCOS is a voluntary service. After you join Indian Navy, you can voluntarily apply for it. A physical and a special medical test will be conducted to make sure that you’re not prone to injuries, as you’ll be subjected to really tough training. Based on your performance in these tests your name will be shortlisted.
MARCOS course can be divided into three categories:
2. Commando training.
3. Para jump.
RL: You are a marathon runner and have won many of them, you are also a yoga champ. But I’ve heard that you also aspire to scale the Mt. Everest. Where did the idea of climbing the Mt. Everest come from?
PT: Post 26/11 attack, I was given a job in Head Quarter Eastern Naval Command. In year 2012, vacancies for mountaineering came and I got really excited as I was more inclined towards adventurous activities than doing a desk job, as they get little boring. However, my application got rejected on medical grounds. I was found Low Medical Category as I had injuries from 26/11 attack.
But to the contrary I have a different belief. I believe that no black and white paper can certify a person of his will power, efficiency, and strength. If he believes in his dreams and aspirations, then nothing can stop him. If one thinks he can. He can.
RL: There is a section of people in our country who tends to mock the idea of nationalism, they don’t believe in respecting national anthem, and put a question mark on the valor of the Armed forces. They are also pro separatist. What’s your opinion on such people and their ideologies?
PT: Criticism is fine. We live in a democracy, so it is healthy to have contrast in opinions. But freedom comes with a limit too. I don’t see any reason as why would anyone criticize Armed Forces as they’re the most trusted organization in India.
Such people must visit the hostile locations where our Army personnel are deployed just for three minutes. This will help them realize what a fauji goes through to safeguard his nation. One visit will perhaps change their mindset and will make them respect nation and national anthem.
However, I also believe that whoever becomes the threat to the security and sovereignty of the country and propagates the idea of secessionism should be considered as a traitor, and if needed then should be put behind the bars.
RL: Jammu and Kashmir is going through unrest, a mob comes out on street and pelt stones on the armed forces to disrupt the operation. What according to you can be a solution to eliminate the unrest and eliminate the stone pelting?
PT: Education, employment, and confidence building are to be the founding stones to resolve this issue. A strong political will along with strictness whenever required is needed. In my view one bullet can kill just one but one pen (education and employment) will give a new life to an entire family.
However, those who become a threat to the armed forces and hinder the operation should be considered as hand-in-glove of terrorists and should be dealt strongly.
RL: Let’s move towards your personal life. As a retired war disabled fauji are there any challenges you face?
PT: Actual meaning of life is “ups and downs”. One should not be afraid of challenges upfront.
However, I think government should improve the policy for war disabled soldiers. Sometimes a soldier who once locked horns with the death for his country has to fight for his rights.
There are people in the society who say that soldier anyway get paid for bullet he takes, so why over hype him? Such mindset is very disheartening. I’ve myself met such people who have said such things to me.
I understand that everyone is entitled to have an opinion but one must not forget it is a soldier who protects that entitlement.
RL: Thank you so much sir for talking to us. It was my honor to have this conversation with you. At last, what message will you give to our young readers.
Nation comes first, always and every time. We all have to work together to make our country a super power.
Mr. Praveen Teotia, a man who fought for the nation, took bullet for us, one bullet pierced through his ears and one through his chest. Even after the retirement he continues to inspire us. He believes in “Never Give Up” attitude. Such are our Fauji Bhai(s) who takes oath to protect us come what may. We cannot do much for them but should certainly have immense respect for them as they put their lives in risk for all of us.
I salute Praveen Teotia. He is my inspiration.