By Vivekananda Pattanayak in Bhubaneswar, September 18, 2019: A day after he was born the world witnessed the beginning of the deadliest war of history. Even before the family started celebration of the newly born, the German soldiers were marching into Poland. He grew up in an atmosphere of blackout, rationing of essential goods, and fear of the Japanese bombing. When he was still a toddler, his maternal uncle, Flying Officer Subhas Kishore Ray serving in the Royal Indian Air Force was lost in the war.

For two decades joining the military became unnegotiable in the family. In the early childhood he demonstrated his uncanny ability to resolve complex mathematical problems with ease. Although his mother wanted him to be a scientist, he had made up his mind and steeled his will to lead a life of adventure. He wanted to be a pilot.

After studying in Ranihat High School, Cuttack, when he had traumatic experience of personally witnessing his school going into flames under mysterious circumstances, he moved to Khallikote College, Berhampur as his father, Dr Gopal Chandra Pattanayak was posted as the civil surgeon of the erstwhile district of Ganjam.

Those were the days of the beginning of the National Cadet Corp (NCC) training ground for military discipline of the youth of the newly independent nation, India that is Bharat. Understandably his father, a former Director of Health Services of Odisha, had named him Bharat as he was born in the midst of national liberation from the British colonial tutelage. His maternal grandfather Shi Bira Kishore Ray, the first Chief Justice of Odisha, then Advocate General of the British province of Orissa had given him the nickname Himu, a great historical figure who had singularly stood up to fight against Akbar on his ascendancy on the demise of Humayun to prevent foreign rule of Moghuls.

This was to remind the family and the local community that Bharat would not have lost her independence if Himu would have won the battle against the young progeny of the house of Timur.
Inspired by his training in NCC he thought that he could defend the integrity of the newly freed democratic nation and protect its diverse people from external aggression by joining the armed forces. After studying in Khallikote College, Berhampur and Gangadhar Meher College, Sambalpur and Ravenshaw College, Cuttack on completion of bachelor’s degree in Science, he was selected to join the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun through highly competitive process of Service Selection Board.

After he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant on completion of two years of rigorous army training in 1961,he was called upon to go to the front to defend the Indian borders against the Chinese invasion in 1962.He was posted to the strategic Chumbi Valley in Sikkim then a protectorate under Chogyal, the ruler. The Indian army was deployed in the region to prevent the Chinese incursion into India. Although the Chinese Peoples’ Army had made inroads into the North Eastern Frontier Agency, now called Arunachal Pradesh reaching Bomdila, they were contained on the Sikkim front. During this period, he had many encounters with the Chinese troops during regular and continuous long-range patrolling in the hilly mountainous terrain at the freezing temperature at formidable height.

Soon after the abatement of the Chinese threats, the war on the Kashmir front began in October 1965 with rapid surprise advancement of the Pakistani troops on Chamb-Jaurian sector called chicken neck and simultaneous but massive infiltration of armed Pakistani commandos and paratroopers into the valley of Kashmir. There was all out war against Pakistan with deployment of the Indian Air Force. When Bharat was in active service in the Indian Army during this period of hostility, his elder brother Kishore Chandra Pattanayak was commanding newly raised the Indo-Tibetan Border Force in Ladakh to have a vigil against the sabre rattling of China on the northern front.

During the Bangladesh war in 1971, Bharat was in the Eastern Front when Pakistan army surrendered to the Indian Army. During the closing days he was in Sylhet.

During peacetime while in Secunderabad, he fulfilled his ambition of becoming a pilot by joining flying club. First, He obtained a Private Pilot’s License and subsequently he got Commercial Pilot’s License.

During his active military service his cousin Colonel P K Ray (Trolly) also joined the Indian Army and other cousin Squadron Leader P K Ray (Bula) was a paratrooper in the Indian Air Force. He married to Anusuya in 1970, the daughter of Dr Rama Krishna Patnaik who was in the Medical Corp of the Indian Army. His maternal uncle Brigadier S K Ray was a Sandhurst commissioned officer of the British Indian Army.

Col. Bharatananda Pattanyak was known to his friends and colleagues during his student days and in-service career as a bright person with logical mind with sharp intellect and scientific outlook and with impeccable integrity. He was well read person not only in his professional domain but also in other fields like history, international relations and constitutional law.

He breathed his last after completing his eightieth year. His birthday day coincided with the last day of his conscious life like Lord Buddha.

His exit from the mundane world was an irreparable loss to India that is Bharat, of a great patriot, a valiant warrior, a brave citizen though unsung, unheard and unknown.

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