Deepkamal Kaur, Tribune News Service
Almost three years after suffering brain damage caused by a bullet injury during a counter-insurgency operation in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kupwara, Lt Col Karanbir Singh Natt lies quietly in room number 13 of the Officers’ Ward in Military Hospital, Jalandhar Cantonment.
Completely unresponsive, Lt Col Natt is fed home-made soup, juice and blended meals through a food pipe, while wife Navpreet Kaur and father Col Jagtar Singh Natt (retd) regularly play “gurbani” hymns.
An idol of Lord Ganesha, sent by an unknown well-wisher after learning about his condition from a Facebook post, lies on a sideboard.
Gurugram-based Col Anil Alagh (retd), his first Commanding Officer in 1997, had a few days back put up a post about him with his old and present pictures with children. It soon went viral. Ever since, thousands of people have been sharing the post and sending prayer messages for the brave Army officer via social media.
On Raksha Bandhan, the family received Rakhis wishing for his quick recovery. “I never knew the post would elicit such a response. I did it just because I felt for him and his family,” says Col Alagh.
Lt Col Natt last spoke to his wife on the morning of November 22, 2015. Hours later, a bullet smashed his lower jaw during a jungle operation with his two men.
Since he could not be airlifted till the next morning, he suffered hypoxia and cardiac arrests and went into coma. He opened his eyes nine days later, but hasn’t recognised his family, including two daughters – Guneet (13) and Ashmeet (4) – since.
The family has re-located twice since the incident. They moved to Delhi, where he underwent treatment at the Army Hospital Research and Referral. Two months back, they shifted him to Jalandhar. The Army provided the family accommodation and the children attend school here.
Lt Col Natt was taken into the Short Service Commission and joined the Guards Regiment in 1998. In 2012, he was relieved after completing 14 years of service. He did LLB and MBA and took up a civil job. But he insisted on going back to the Army and joined 160 TA unit, says his family.