Navneet Gill is a dentist during the day, teaching at an Ahmedabad-based dental college and a restaurant ninja by night, being host to one of the most popular restaurants in the city, Nini’s Kitchen.
Navneet Gill is an army kid. Both her parents served in the army. While her father served India during the 1965 and 1971 wars, her mother, who was a nurse in the Indian Army served the country during the Kargil war.
Born in Taran Tarn, a remote border district of Punjab, into a family with long history of military service, Ms Gill studied till 12th at her village school and then joined the Military Nursing School in 1970, becoming the first woman in her village to do so. Her grandfather, too, had served the Indian Army and fought in the First World War. When the 1971 Indo-Pak war broke out, she was stationed at the Military Hospital in New Delhi and was still undergoing training. However, due to the contingency of the time, she was pressed into service immediately to take care of a large number of casualties pouring in.
In 1988, she was posted at the Military Hospital Jalandhar where again she attended to a large number of casualties from the disastrous Indian Peace Keeping Force intervention in Sri Lanka. By this time, she was married and two young kids to take care of. When the 1999 Kargil War broke out, she was posted at the Chandimandir Military Station near Chandigarh which serves as the Head Quarters of the Western Command – the Indian Army’s largest operational command. The Western Command is responsible for India’s sensitive border along Punjab & Rajasthan.
Lt. Col. Gill oversaw the care of the numerous casualties that were airlifted every day from the conflict zone to the Command Hospital Chandimandir. Four years later, in 2003, she retired at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
Post her retirement, she chose to remain actively involved with the community. She worked as the principal of a government-run Nursing College in Punjab and has authored two books that are part of the nursing school curriculum.
Throughout her long career, she recalls the constantly smiling faces of the wounded she treated. “No matter the gravity of the injury they had suffered, the morale of the soldiers would always be high. A kind word and a laugh would always be on their lips,” she says.
The ghastly Pulwama terror attack has brought back the haunting memories. Navneet, who now lives in Ahmedabad and runs the restaurant with her husband, thought that it is not a time to just condole, but also to contribute.
Hence, from 20th to 26th February, the billing amount collected from table no. 21 and table no 12 from the two restaurants in the city will go to the Bharat Ke Veer foundation, a fund-raising initiative by the Ministry of Home Affairs on behalf of the members of Indian Armed Forces.
OpIndia reached out to Lt. Col. (Retd.) Gill, firstly to thank her for her service to the nation and secondly to ask her how she feels about being part of such a cause. “I am proud of what my daughter is doing. The family has had a long association with the Indian Armed forces going back 3 generations and with Navneet’s active involvement in the fund-raising initiative for the Bharat Ke Veer foundation, I see an extension of the service to the nation I dedicated my life to.”