On September 2, 2010, Bishnu Shrestha was travelling in the Maurya Express, enjoying the view while sitting on his window seat when the train entered the dense jungles of West Bengal. The 35-year-old ex-Gurkha soldier going home, after retiring from his position as a Naik in the Gurkha infantry. His father had served in the same as a soldier. But, he didn’t know what was going to happen next.
By Surabhi Nijhawan
Around midnight, the train suddenly stopped and armed men walked in from every direction, some of them were disguised as passengers and started scaring fellow passengers, looting them with knives, clubs and swords. About 40 of them stole from wallets, to jewelry, laptops to watches by waving knives in the faces of terror-stricken hostages.
‘Suddenly, there were shouts and the sound of running feet. Somebody pulled at my bedclothes. I sat up and found a number of people standing near my feet. They demanded that I hand over all my cash and valuables. There was confusion all around and I shouted that I am an Indian Army jawan [infantryman]. The criminals backed off and turned their attention [elsewhere]…. They started snatching jewelry, cell phones, cash, laptops and other belongings from the passengers,’ Bishnu said while recounting the incident to The Times of India.
Bishnu remained quiet until the robbers turned their attention towards an 18-year-old girl and attempted to gang-rape her in front of her parents. At that point, Bishnu couldn’t tolerate anymore.
He got up, drew his Khukri, and attacked the robbers like a brave Gurkha soldier!. He caught hold of the woman’s attacker and used him as a human shield. After that, he killed three thieves and severely injured eight other. The robbers that were left ran away.
After this incident, Bishnu had a serious blade injury on his left hand, but that did not stop him from ensuring the safety of passengers around him. The entire episode was over in 20 minutes. Police and emergency personnel were waiting at the next station. They took Bishnu to the hospital immediately. It took him almost two months to recover completely. Thankfully, the police arrested the robbers recovered valuables worth Rs 400,000 in cash, gold necklaces, cell phones, laptops and other items.
Bishnu received two medals for his bravery along with silver-plated kukri and Rs 50,000 cash bonus, as well as the reward that was on the heads of the gang-members. The family of the girl, whom he saved also offered him a cash reward, but our brave soldier refused it. He said, ‘Fighting the enemy in battle is my duty as a soldier. Taking on the thugs on the train was my duty as a human being.’
Clearly, Bishnu is a true hero and the very definition of a true Gorkha soldier.
“It is better to die than be a coward.” -The Royal Gurkha Rifles