This is The tale of a war veteran, who in only 3 years of his service as a Sepoy, took discharge after losing his right leg in a landmine blast during the War of Kargil in 1999.
I heard the story of Sepoy OmPrakash Bhadana from Mukesh Anand, who has been working towards empowering several wounded soldiers over the years with his 'Mission Vijay'
OmPrakash rose from an almost miserable state after a discharge from the army on disability grounds, and today he is a well known respected businessman of his village with his monthly income in six figures.
As an activist for the issues for the Armed Forces, this story really intrigued me.
So me and my associate Ankit (with Citizens For Forces) picked up my old video camera and a tripod to cover the story of this man.
Pali Village is in close proximity to Delhi, however feels light-years far. The road led through the dusty Aravali Hills where most of the Stone Mining for the NCR region happens, through various nondescript villages, passing by a stone laden truck every 15 meters.
OmPrakash's shop is right on the highway. A very basic store with a small godown of Engine Oils right next to it, and the branding is just right, a simple blue on red handpainted sign board says – Phauji ki Dukaan ie the Soldiers Shop.
Initially I had a little difficulty finding Pali on the highway, but about four kilometers before it, I just asked a passer by about about Phauji Om Prakash, who had lost his limb in the war. He directed me straight to the man.
On the 17th of August 1999, Sepoy OmPrakash was a guide to a team of about 30 other soldiers, when he stepped on a landmine and lost a portion of his right leg. Post that he crawled 7 kilometers In the rocky terrain to the nearest military post. He gave me a detailed account of that day and how he felt. He said that there was a time when the pain in his hands was more than the wound on his leg.
For a few months after his discharge and the operation in Pune where he got a prosthetic leg, OmPrakash worked in the nearby mine as a cashier, and was waiting for his Full and Final lump-sum payment from the army. His Salary was a mere four thousand rupees a month. Also he got married just a few months before the war started.
In the year 2000, OmPrakash was assisted by Mission Vijay into setting up a dealership of PepsiCo and Castrol Motor Oils.
At that time he did not have enough money for the seed capital. After a little persuasion and motivation by Anand, he managed to borrow a little money from relatives and friends and that is how he started off.
During the course of business OmPrakash was assisted extensively by PepsiCo and Castrol to know more about the products and business as a whole.
After a couple of months of working with Soft Drinks and engine oils, the businesses were not showing great results, and that was the time when a dejected OmPrakash was about to pull out of the business. After discussions with his family and his mentor Anand, he was advised to just hold on for a few more months. If it didnt work out, Mission Vijay even offered to help get some of his invested money back from Pepsi and Castrol.
The tides turned soon. With perseverance and hard work, the business picked up, and hasn't stopped till date.
By the year 2003 Sep Om Prakash was giving motivational lectures to fellow soldiers who were wounded during the course of battle.
Today his business has expanded, His two younger brothers assist him in his work, which has expanded to transportation. OmPrakash today proudly owns 4 trucks, and has an ever in demand business of fast moving consumer goods and mobile oils.
OmPrakash is a is a father of two sons and a daughter. He wants his sons to join the army as well, but to educate themselves well and join as officers.
He also fondly remembers his rendezvous with Sachin Tendulkar in a five star hotel in Delhi in 2003 organised by Mission Vijay. The newest Bharat ratna called him the real hero of the Nation.
Today OmPrakash gets a pension and a disability allowance of Rupees 14,000 from the government and his business and hard work makes him and his family six figures a month.
Om Prakash wishes to work with fellow veterans who have been wounded in battle and is possibly looking at setting up a Vocational Training Center for them with Mission Vijay.