Shresta said, “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.”
When some of the thugs started to attack and attempted to rape a young woman in front of her terrified and helpless parents, the girl cried out to Shresta: “You are a soldier! Please, save a sister!”
Something clicked. Shresta pulled out his khukuri knife and in the next 20 minutes killed three of the assailants, wounded another eight, and sent the rest of them running away in fear for their lives, leaving behind their loot. Looking back on what happened, Shresta said:
I prevented her from being raped, thinking of her as my own sister....
I am a soldier and get paid to protect citizens of this country. I could not sit back and watch as passengers were looted. I pulled out my khukuri and attacked the criminals. Initially, they were taken by surprise and I succeeded in connecting with at least three of them. The blows were severe....
I am proud to be able to prove that a Gorkha [alternate spelling of Gurkha] soldier with a khukuri is really a handful. I would have been a meek spectator had I not carried that khukuri.
Police arrested the eight attackers wounded by Shresta and recovered 400,000 rupees [about $8,000], 40 gold necklaces, 200 cell phones, 40 laptop computers and other valuables. On January 12, 2012 the Indian army presented Shresta with three awards for gallantry and bravery. The Army also temporarily reinstated his commission so he could receive a promotion along with a larger retirement pension, and free airline tickets for life.
Praises for his decision to engage in what appeared to be a fight with overwhelming odds against him came from many sources, including this from the LogicCool website:
Whoa ... holy cow. Every once in a while someone in the world comes along and reminds us what a true hero looks like…
We’ve got movie stars who can only play act what you did for real…we salute you in our admiration.
As retired chief firearms instructor for the Los Angeles Police Department Larry Mudgett wrote,
How does one man defeat 30? How does he summon the courage to fight such odds?
He utilized all the principles of personal defense: Alertness, Decisiveness, Aggressiveness, Speed, Coolness, Ruthlessness and Surprise. He was skilled in the use of his weapon.
Most importantly, he refused to be a victim and allow evil to triumph!
Lessons for those in the freedom fight are obvious. It takes courage and determination to engage the enemy. It also helps to know that the enemy relies on audacity, intimidation, and falsehoods in their attempts to loot the citizens. But their bluster is fraudulent, and they will retreat at the first sign of such resistance and determination. Thanks to Shresta for the reminder.