What does one call the only man awarded both the Maha Vir Chakra and the Kirti Chakra, the second highest awards for gallantry in wartime and peace, respectively? Surely, a lion among soldiers!
Joginder Singh Gharaya, son of Deva singh, was born on 31st July 1926, at Montgomery, now in Pakistan. He was commissioned in Bihar Regiment on 20th January 1946. He was Awarded ‘Kirti Chakra’ for displaying conspicuous gallantry during the Police action against the Razakars in Hyderbad.
On 24 September 1948, Captain Gharaya while proceeding with his Company to village Puchanapet was suddenly fired upon by two truck loads of Razakars who then made away. Capt Gharaya immediately engaged them from his jeep and, followed closely by some of his men in a truck, he gave chase. Although constantly under fire, he kept up the chase and returned fire. Eventually he managed to shoot down two Razakars. Later the driver too was killed and the truck halted. The Razakars, however, took up positions and continued the fight. Captain Gharaya then with one Section only, charged the Razakars, killing twelve. Six .303, six Henry Martini Rifles and one Pistol were captured. Throughout this action, as well as on the other numerous occasions during the Police Action, Capt. Gharaya showed great leadership, courage and initiative in rounding up armed Razakars. His utter disregard for his personal safety coupled with his cheerfulness were an inspiration and example to all who came in contact with him.
As a lieutenant-colonel, in 1969 Gharaya was awarded the Vishisht Seva Medal for “distinguished service of a high order.”
Brigadier Gharaya was awarded ‘Maha Vir Chakra’ for his extraordinary courage during the Indo-Pak War in 1971. Brigadier J.S. Gharaya was commanding an infantry brigade in the Eastern Front in the Jessore Sector on 6 December 1971. His brigade was attacked on four successive occasions and despite heavy casualties, his troops stood the ground due largely to his excellent tactical handling, outstanding courage, constant presence and guidance. His conduct of this operation was responsible for heavy enemy losses and their withdrawal. During the subsequent offensive operations, Brigadier Gharaya was with the leading troops when he was severely wounded by enemy fire. He refused to be evacuated till he had seen the attack through as the success of this attack was vital to our further advance in Bangladesh. Throughout this operation, Brigadier Gharaya conducted himself with extraordinary courage and through his personal example inspired such spirit and confidence among troops that led to the complete success of the difficult operations.
Gharaya was promoted to the rank of Major General on 30 December 1976 and subsequently commanded both the 9th and 7th Infantry Divisions. He was promoted as Lieutenant-General on 1 July 1982 and served as Chief of Staff, Central Command before his final appointment as Director-General, Infantry, from where he retired in 1984.
Humble and unassuming, the general always kept the welfare of his troops paramount. His career is an inspiring example for all times to come. Gen Gharaya passed away at Chandigarh on 13 July 2019.