By: Lt Col JS Sodhi (Retired)
Roberto Clemente’s quote “When I put on my uniform, I feel I am the proudest man on Earth” aptly fitted Ravinder Alwyn Sharma Thabah, an Indian Army Officers’ son, who used to be enamoured seeing his father wear the haloed Army Officer’s uniform every morning.
Thabah had decided very early on in his life that he had to don the Army Officer’s uniform one day. Thabah belonged to an illustrious and distinguished family. His father was an Army Officer from the Corps of Signals, and his mother was a teacher.
Thabah joined the Army as a soldier in the Corps of Signals. He prepared himself for the prestigious Army Cadet College (ACC) exam. The ACC exam is a very tough exam in which over 10,000 soldiers apply and only 45 are selected after a gruelling process involving a written exam, interview and medical checks.
For the determined and motivated Thabah, the tough ACC exam proved to be no deterrent and he joined the prestigious Army Cadet College in Dehradun. Thabah was allotted Gurez Company and in the next three years Tabah outshone others in cross country, basketball, gymnastics and athletics. He won various medals in these sports in the three-year training of ACC.
Thabah was a very good guitar player, and he would sing English and Hindi songs while playing the guitar. He was the star of the Social Evenings in ACC.
After a tough and strenous training of three years, Thabah passed out of ACC on 08 December 1990 as part of the ACC-56 Course. After four weeks leave, Thabah reported to the prestigious Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehradun on 08 January 1991 for one year of pre-commission training as part of the 89 Regular Course.
Thabah was allotted Jessore Company in IMA. Continuing his good performance in ACC, Tabah did well in IMA too.
The Company Commander of Jessore Company at that time was a Parachute Commando Major. Thabah was in so much awe and admiration of his Company Commander, that when the time came to fill in the choice for Arms/Services, Thabah immediately gave his choice as the Parachute Regiment.
The Parachute Regiment of the Indian Army is an elite and coveted Regiment in which only the best of the best gets commissioned in.
RAS Thabah was commissioned as an Officer in the Parachute Regiment on 14 December 1991. His parents piped one star each on his either shoulder and thus 2/Lt RAS Thabah achieved his ambition of becoming an Officer in the finest Army of the World – the Indian Army.
After post commissioning leave Thabah, reported to the Parachute Battalion. He cleared the probation and was given the coveted Maroon Beret.
It is only the privilege of select few to wear the Maroon Beret in the Indian Army, and those select few are the best Officers and Soldiers of the Indian Army. Thabah had yet once again proved that he was among the best.
Thabah undertook various operations as part of his Parachute Battalion and was awarded the Chief of Army Staff’s Commendation Card and the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief’s Commendation Card for bravery.
After few years’ service in the Parachute Battalion, Thabah was transferred to Assam Regiment due to ill health.
At that time, the Assam Regiment Battalion was in the North-East in Assam, engaged in Counter Insurgency Operations. The experience of having served in a Parachute Regiment came handy and Thabah soon was in the fore front of taking part in the operations in the Assam Regiment Battalion too.
On 01 December 2002, intelligence inputs were received that few terrorists were to visit a village later at night the same day. Thabah and one Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) immediately wore local dress and went to the village to gather more inputs. After some time, the villagers there become suspicious of them and thinking both of them to be terrorists, they both were surrounded by a mob and eventually lynched to death by the locals. Thus, Major RAS Thabah sacrificed his life in the Service of the Nation.
We pay homage to Major Ravinder Alwyn Sharma Thabah on this solemn day. You shall forever remain in our hearts and memories and will always be a source of inspiration to all of us. Our prayers for your Eternal Peace.
As the famous Rev. Aaron Kilbourn remarked “The dead soldier’s silence sings our National Anthem”.
About the Author
Lt Col JS Sodhi retired from the Corps of Engineers of the Indian Army is an alumnus of NDA Khadakwasla and IIT Kanpur. He is a M.Tech in Structures and has also done MBA and LL.B and is a prolific writer and a public speaker. He features in the World Book of Records, London and the India Book of Records for his media contributions. He Tweets at @JassiSodhi24. The views expressed are personal.