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Chandigarh school to pay a fitting tribute to its braveheart alumnus

The braveheart was killed during a peace keeping operation in Sri Lanka in July 1988.

punjab Updated: Oct 29, 2017 14:04 IST
Aneesha Bedi
Aneesha Bedi
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Rajeev Sandhu,Param Vir Chakra,St John’s High School
Second Lieutenant Rajeev Sandhu’s father DS Sandhu and mother JK Sandhu at their house in Sector 45, Chandigarh, on Saturday. They have dedicated a small room to him and put all of his belongings right from his childhood till his commissioning as an officer in March 1988.(Karun Sharma/HT)

Second Lieutenant Rajeev Sandhu of the Assam Regiment had served the Indian Army for only four months when he lost his life while fighting against the LTTE during a peace keeping operation in Sri Lanka in 1988.

At 21, he became the youngest officer to receive Maha Vir Chakra (MVC), the second highest gallantry award of the country after Param Vir Chakra.

It is only natural for his alma mater — St John’s High School — to pay tribute to the braveheart. The missionary school is installing Rajeev’s statue on its campus in Chandigarh’s Sector 26. It will be unveiled during a ceremony on November 29.

St John’s — where Rajeev studied from Class 5 to 10, passing out in 1982 — will be the second institute in the city after DAV College, Sector 10, to pay such a tribute to the soldier. The college, from where he graduated, has installed his marble bust.

“As Rajeev Sandhu was a former student of the school, we wanted to honour him,” said school principal Kavita C Das. “He is fondly remembered during our house shows, which acted as a catalyst for this idea.”


It was during a casual conversation between Das and the braveheart’s father, DS Sandhu, 84, at a school function last year that led to the decision to install the statue.

Sandhu, too, retired as a physical training officer from the school in 1984 .

Rajeev, also an avid sportsperson, was a national-level roller-skating champion during his school days. Fondly remembering his son while showing his photographs at his house in Sector 45, Sandhu said he is indebted to the school for ensuring the children get a chance to learn about his son’s bravery.

“My son was commissioned in the army on March 5, 1988, and he lost his life on July 19, 1988. We could not even see his body, but he will always live with us. I still wear his chain and ring,” he said.

An area in Manimajra has also been named Rajeev Vihar after the soldier.


Talking about the statue, Kavita C Das said it took them around four months to finalise the design.

“We wanted to make sure not to project violence or aggression in any way,” said the school principal. “The statue has been designed keeping in mind the robust Johnian spirit, wherein Rajeev is holding a gun in one hand and helmet in the other — quite like a soldier.”

A local firm has designed the statue in collaboration with schoolteachers to keep it as authentic as possible.

November also happens to be the late army officer’s birth month. His birth anniversary — November 12 – will be observed as Rajeev Sandhu Day at the school.

The teachers and children will not only honour Rajeev but all Indian soldiers who have lost their lives in the line of duty. As the day falls on a Sunday, the formal function will take place on November 13, wherein Rajeev’s photographs, army caps, rolling skates and other belongings will be displayed.

The school is also trying to get in touch with Rajeev’s classmates to invite them to the unveiling of his statue. Das said one of his classmates told her that two boys who used to sit behind Rajeev were always up to some mischief. When the teacher would look back, she always thought it was Rajeev who was creating noise and would scold him. But Rajeev never let out the secret.

First Published: Oct 29, 2017 14:04 IST