Col Navjot Singh Bal, A Shaurya Chakra awardee and former commandant of the two Para, passed away on Thursday in Bengaluru. He was 39. For the past two years, Col Bal has been battling cancer. Col Bal, who comes from a military family, was assigned to the Northern Command’s Operation section during the 2016 surgical strikes.
His death is being lamented within the Army, particularly by Special Forces members for whom he was a living icon.
|Col Navjot Singh Bal and His wife Arti (Left), Col. Navjot Singh Bal Hospital Selfie and Portrait (Right) | TIH Archives|
“Col Navjot Singh Bal was involved in many anti-terror operations and was a living symbol in uniform,” stated an unidentified Para officer.
Navjot Singh Bal received the Shaurya Chakra during an operation in Kashmir’s Lolab Valley where he and a colleague pursued a group of terrorists and shot two of them dead in close battle.
He has also participated in a UN mission in Congo. Colonel Bal is survived by his wife and two sons, ages eight and four. Col Bal attended Army Public School in Dhaula Kuan, Delhi, before enrolling in the National Defence Academy in 1998 and was commissioned into 2 Para in 2002.
‘He didn’t let cancer stop him.’
On March 20, 2018, Col Bal assumed command of the Bangalore-based 2 Para Special Forces. A tumor in his right arm was discovered in May 2018, and following tests indicated that he has a very rare type of cancer. According to accounts, he was put on chemotherapy yet continued to work as the CO.
The officer, who was described as an obsessive fitness nut, did not let his cancer alter his way of life. Despite being sick, he proceeded with his training routine, which included 50 one-handed pull-ups. “Such was his fitness that he even completed a 21-kilometer half-marathon despite cancer interfering with his regular breathing,” another officer stated.
His right arm had to be amputated in January 2019, but he continued to serve as CO because the cancer was thought to be under control. Another officer, his superior, stated that the only thing Col Bal did after returning from surgery in January was to change his cycle. “He didn’t consider losing an arm to be a setback.
“His positivity and zest for life were so strong that he adjusted his bike on his own and made sure both brakes were on his left,” he explained. He even learned to fire from his left side with the same ease that he did from his right.