LADY COURAGEOUS- A true anecdote- IN OLIVEGREENS


By Maj Gen Raj Mehta (Retd)*



A true life war zone incident of a lady Doctor of the Indian Army, her story of grit and Hippocrates Oath that Doctors serve under, even if a General has to be disciplined in the process.
                         It was a biting cold, late winter evening in Jan 2004, at Baramula- a border town in J & K, with the notorious and well deserved reputation for being the hub of terrorism and as the GOC of the Division Headquartered there I got a call on the phone, late night.  The operator displayed his urgency by prefacing the call as Urgent ”IED phata hai, Sahib. Capt Devika Gupta aap se baat karna chahti hain. Medical Room se bol rahi hain…”’
                         In two minutes, I was in uniform. The MI Room was closeby and when I arrived there was subdued activity. A RR soldier who was part of a Unit on a night patrol had stepped on an IED disguised as a transistor. His intestines had split out and his team had rushed him to the MI Room where the Medical Officer, Capt Devika Gupta, her hands encased in bloodied white gloves right up to her shoulders was stitching him skillfully to stop his intense bleeding. It was touch and go!. I assessed the situation and instructed a bullet / mine Armoured Car-with a duty QRT to escort the lady doctor and patient to the Base Hospital at Srinagar 60 kms away
                       Capt Devika told me on arrival, “Sir, it is touch and go,. have put almost 150 stitches on him. He has to reach the ICU at Srinagar for immediate operating as his vitals are collapsing. I need to monitor him and hold a drip otherwise he will die on my hands. Need an open jeep, not this “cramped tank”. She called the narrow ceilinged armoured car meant for war, not a casuality evacuation equipment.
                      It was past 1 AM now and the Baramula Srinagar road which was notorious for terrorist fire on our convoys passing through low hills and gullies near Pattan, a very trouble prone area. I was morally responsible for any orders I gave. In this case, I felt that she had to go in an armoured vehicle with the patient and not in an ambulance Gypsy and told her the same in no uncertain terms;             when a quiet, firm, authoritative voice intervened “ Just a minute General sir”.  That was Capt Devika in a voice that wasn’t hers, so my mind registered. She was dressed in a blood spattered Green military Sari and had just got up from her stitching of the soldiers abdomen. She was  actually just five feet tall, petite, well mannered, very good in her job but for some reason when she pulled herself up and snapped her beret on over her short hair that dark night, with about 50 odd soldiers and officers watching, she seemed to me to be taller than I…. She was!!
                     She walked up to me close enough for me to see her angry, flashy blazing eyes. “Sir who is the GOC?”… Have you any doubt, I asked her. “No, she said, ‘I have no doubt. Now tell me, who is the doctor who is treating the soldier?”. I understood. GOC’s aren’t stupid. Anyone would understand and I certainly did. “Sir, the boy is my patient. Do not interfere. If you do, you will carry the responsibility for his death. I will carry him in the open Gypsy, NOT the armoured Vehicle. If I die, my husband will grieve for me. You need not bother … and sir, you can later court martial me if you wish but let me go now.”
                    With all my men waiting for my reacting at being “dressed down “by this chit of a girl with thee years service to my 36 years, I did the only thing any officer and gentlemen would have in a war zone. I saluted her!.

                  “ Capt Devika, I am sorry I interfered. Go,. God is with you”. There were at least two people holding back their tears that dark night and she was one of them.
                   The drama was not yet unfolded. At Pattan, one of her escort vehicles broke down at about 2:30AM. The brave gutsy doctor asked her escort to catch up after repairing the broken down vehicle and proceeded the last 30 kilometers unescorted in her open Gypsy…. unescorted,other than her courage and God who was with her!
                  So it was with enormous relief when Devika called me up at 4:30 AM.  “Sir, the soldier has been operated upon and will make it. I joined in the operation. It is Sunday, can I have half a day off? you are aware I am 6 months pregnant and my hubby has arranged for my term tests”
                That morning I called up my seniors and informed them of this courageous lady. So three days later she was awarded the Chief of Army Staff’s Commendation Card for her heroism and devotion to duty….a rare honour!
                Months later this Tigress was blessed with a baby. A child who would one day hear about a great, feisty Mum. A woman who sorted out a protective General and won!
                 When some of my peers say or write that women are not suited for the Uniform, I react very strongly in their favour because the women I have seen and interacted with were Tigresses to the core. They are as lean, Mean & keen as any man walk the same walk!
                   Hats off to the Tigresses in Olive Green!
                                                                                    
(Courtesy) *                                                                                                           



  
                                                                                      ColToms /-

                                                                                      (Training Faculty Cavalier India)






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