Arun Khetarpal was born on 14th October 1950 in Pune, Maharashtra. His father M.L. Khetarpal was a Brigadier at that time in the Indian Army. Khetarpal family traced a long history of service. Arun distinguished himself both as a brilliant student and sportsperson
While Attending the Lawrence School in Sanawar. In 1967 Arun Joined NDA(National Defense Academy) and subsequently went on to join the IMA( Indian Military Academy). Arun was commissioned to the 17 Poona Horse in June of 1971.
During Bangladesh war, 17 Poona Horse was given the command of the 47th Infantry Brigade. 47th Infantry Brigade saw action in the Shakargarh sector through the duration of the conflict in the Battle of Basantar
47th Brigade was given the task to establish a bridgehead across the River Basantar. On 15th of December brigade had captured its objectives by 2100 hours. The place was extensively mined, which prevented the deployment of Poona horse tanks. While the engineers were clearing the mines halfway through the task bridgehead reported alarming activity of the enemy Armour, asking for immediate Armour support. During this crucial situation the 17 Poona Horse decided to push through the minefield. a link-up was established between the amour and the infantry at the bridgehead by first light the next day.
On 16th December at 0800 hours Pakistani forces launched counter-attacks under the cover of a smokescreen at the pivot of 17th Poona Horse at Jarpal. The Indian troops there were heavily outnumbered against Pakistani infantry and Armour. The “B” squadron’s commander requested for urgent reinforcement. This call was attended by Arun Khetarpal, who was stationed close to the “B” squadron. He had two tanks and troops. Khetarpal reached the place and launched right into the enemy attack. He stopped the enemy advances and captured at gunpoint some of the enemy infantry and weapon crews. However the commander of the second tank died in the attack. Now Khetrapal was alone in charge. He continued his attack on the Pakistani strongholds and made pushed them back. He took down a enemy tank during this process. However the Pakistani’s regrouped and counter attacked. A vicious tank battle took place. Ten tanks were hit and destroyed of which Arun Khetarpal destroyed four. During this operation he was hit by enemy fire, but instead of abandoning the tank as he was ordered. he fought on destroying one final tank before he was finally overwhelmed by enemy forces. His actions brought Indians in a strong position in the Shakargarh bulge denying Pakistani forces a vital breakthrough.
During his last radio contact with his superior officer who ordered him to abandon his tank, his final words were “No Sir, I will not abandon my tank. My gun is still working and I will get these bastards.”
Then he went about destroying the remaining Pakistani tanks. The last tank, that he shot, was barely 100 meters from his tank. Due to which his tank received a second hit. The officer met his death denying the Pakistani Army the intended breakthrough. Khetarpal’s tank “Famagusta” was restored and is now on display.
2nd Lt. Arun Khetarpal was awarded with the highest wartime gallantry medal, the Param Vir Chakra, posthumously for his bravery and conspicuous gallantry in the face of the enemy.