Category Archives: Inspiration

Sepoy Anusuya Prasad – Whose Heroism and Sacrifice Have Become Part of the Mahar Regimental History

Sepoy Anusuya Prasad, was born on 19th May 1953, in the village of Nanna, Chamoli, in present day Uttarakhand. Son of Shri Dayanand and Smt Ukha Devi, Sep Anusuya Prasad was enrolled in 10 Mahar on 19th May 1971. Sepoy Ansuya Prasad  despite being a young soldier of his regiment played an active role during the 1971 Indo-Pak war.

Operation Cactus Lily: 1971

During the 1971 war, for liberation of Bangladesh, the Mahar Regiment was given the task of capturing an enemy position, a tea factory at Chatlapur on the Eastern Front, which was a well-fortified building dominated by machine guns around the entire area. The plan of action, under Commanding officer, Major Gen K V Krishna Rao, was to send a squad to get into the enemy defences and set the building on fire.

Sepoy Ansuya Prasad, with utter disregard for his personal safety, volunteered for the task and crawled towards the enemy position, holding a few phosphorous grenades. During the process, he was shot in both his legs but undaunted, he continued crawling up towards the stock of ammunition in the building. Thereafter, he received a machine gun burst in his shoulder, and still undeterred, though bleeding profusely, he crawled up to the building and lobbed the grenades into it, setting it on fire before succumbing to his wounds and was martyred, that too when he was just 18 years old. His exceptional bravery forced the enemy to abandon the building and enabled the troops to capture the objective and subsequently, the two Pak Brigades which were defending the town, surrendered on 17 December, ’71. The daredevil action of Sep Anusuya Prasad changed the course of battle and ensured a decisive victory for Indian forces. In this action Sepoy Ansuya Prasad displayed conspicuous gallantry and made the supreme sacrifice.

Sepoy Ansuya Prasad, with just 11 days of service with the Battalion, displayed outstanding courage with utter disregard to his personal safety. His heroism and sacrifice have become part of the Mahar Regimental history. Sep Anusuya Prasad was awarded nation’s second highest award for gallantry, Maha Vir Chakra for making the supreme sacrifice, and became the youngest recipient of the award.

A parade ground at Sagar in Madhya Pradesh has been named after Sepoy Anusuya Prasad.  A statue of the brave soldier has been installed in front of the unit, that is today famous as Anusuya Prasad Battalion in honor of the exceptional courage shown by the martyred soldier.

Sep Anusuya Prasad is survived by his wife Chitra Devi. “I was merely around 13 when I got married. I remember that my husband (Sepoy Prasad) had come down during a break from the training for collecting some documents — that is when we got married. Five days and he went back for training and went straight to the battlefield. What I received was a telegram, saying my husband was dead. I could not even read the telegram, forget understanding the severity of it,” said Chitra Devi who, in March 1963 went to Delhi to receive the MVC by then President V V Giri.

In 2002, I started an organisation called Veer Shaheed Anusuya Prasad (MVC) Mahila Samiti in Bhauwala, Dehradun, working for women empowerment. “Now, there are just two things I want to do — empower other women and visit the place where my husband fought bravely, for which I need a passport,” she has said.

Pawan Kumar – Despite Being Wounded in an Earlier Encounter Refused to Proceed on Sick Leave to be With His Team for His Next Operation

Capt Pawan Kumar was born on January 15, 1993 and hailed from Jind in Haryana. Born on the Indian Army Day (15 Jan), Capt Pawan Kumar nursed the idea of joining the Armed Forces since his younger days. He pursued his interest and got selected to join the prestigious NDA after his schooling. He graduated from the 123 course of the National Defence Academy and joined the Army on December 14, 2013. He got commissioned into the Dogra Regiment, an infantry Regiment known for its gallant soldiers and numerous battle exploits.

Capt Pawan Kumar was a die hard soldier and loved adventurous life. Consequently he volunteered to join the elite special forces and got trained as a para commando. In June 2015, he eventually joined 10 Para(SF) battalion, the elite force known as “Desert Scorpions” as officers and jawans of this unit were trained specially for desert warfare. Donning maroon beret and “Balidan” badge, Capt Pawan Kumar was proud to be part of the force that had men of steel, whose physical and mental toughness was beyond compare.

During 2016, Capt Pawan Kumar was serving with 10 Par (SF) deployed in J& K for counter insurgency operations. On 20 February 2016, 4 Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists armed with AK-47 Assault rifles, hand grenades and explosives attacked a CRPF convoy on the main road linking Srinagar to Jammu, killing two policemen and a civilian. The militants then took refuge in the government-run multi-storey “Entrepreneurship Development Institute” in Pampore. The security forces with elements of Army and Central Reserve Police Force rose to the occasion and cordoned off the building in a joint operation to evacuate civilians from the building.

The main objective of the security forces was to evacuate civilians to safety. However the militants responded with automatic gunfire and hand grenades. A fierce gun battle ensued thereafter with heavy exchange of fire from both sides. Capt Pawan Kumar led his men from the front and engaged the militants courageously. During the ensuing battle, Capt Pawan Kumar got hit by bullets and was seriously injured. He later succumbed to his injuries and was martyred, but his gallant action paved the way for the security forces to complete the operation successful. Capt Pawan Kumar was a committed soldier and a brave officer who laid down his life at the age of 23 years in the service of the nation. Capt Pawan Kumar was given the gallantry award, “Shourya Chakra” on 15th Aug 2016 for his exceptional courage, fighting spirit and supreme sacrifice.

According to Army officials, he had taken part in two successful operations earlier in which three terrorists were killed — including the operation on February 15 in Pulwama in which one terrorist and two civilians were killed.

“I had one child and I gave him to the Army, to the nation. No father can be more prouder. He was destined to be in the Army as he was born on the Army Day, January 15, 1993, Pawan’s father Sri Rajbir Singh said.

His last Facebook post said it all, “Kisi ko reservation chahiye toh kisiko azadi bhai, humein kuch nahi chahiye bhai bas apni razai (Some want reservations, some even freedom, but I want nothing, just my blanket).”

He had voluntarily taken upon himself to lead his men into this most difficult phase of the operation. His commitment to his men, duty and the uniform he so proudly donned, can be gauged from the fact that despite having been wounded in an earlier encounter with terrorists only last month, he had refused to proceed on sick leave to be with his team for this operation.

Lieutenant Hawa Singh – Despite Being Seriously Wounded, Courageously Cleared Five Enemy Bunkers and Killed Number of Enemy Personnel

Second Lieutenant Hawa Singh hailed from Mirzapur village in Hissar district of Haryana. Son of Mr Sheokaran Singh and Mrs Chand Kaur, 2nd Lt Hawa Singh followed his childhood dream and joined the Army after completing his studies. He was commissioned into 4/5 GR of 5 Gorkha Rifles, a regiment known for its valiant soldiers and numerous battle honours.

During 1971, 2nd Lt Hawa Singh’s unit 4/5 GR, got deployed in the Eastern sector and took part in one of biggest assaults on enemy forces before the 1971 war. The battle of Atgram complex, fought on 21 Nov, 1971 between the 5 Gorkha Rifles and the 31 Punjab of Pakistani Army, was one of the first engagements between the two opposing forces that preceded the Indo-Pak war of 1971 and also one of the first large scale assaults launched by the Indian army against East Pakistani forces before the 1971 war. The battle was fought on the border village Atgram, in the Sylhet district of then East Pakistan, approximately 35 Kms from Sylhet town. The village lay across the Surma river, which served as a de-facto border, separating East Pakistan from the Cachar district of Assam. The target of the Indian operation was the Atgram complex. Situated two kms inside the International Border across the River Surma, Atgram served as a major road communication centre , connecting it with Zakiganj to the south opposite the Indian Border town of Karimganj.

As per the attack plan 4/5 GR was tasked to capture the Atgram Salient by first light 21 November 1971 and advance further towards Charkhai and secure Sarkar Bazar, which lay approximately 4 Kms west of Atgram. The plans for the attack, drawn up by the CO, Lt Col  A B Harolikar, was aimed to surprise the enemy forces by infiltrating, and establishing road blocks to prevent reinforcements from Sarkar Bazar from the west Zakiganj to the south. This meant that to reach the Atgram, 4/5 GR troops had to cross the River Surma, infiltrating between Pakistani defences of Raigram and Amalsid, proceeding through four kms of marshes and launching the assault on Atgram complex from the rear. The force was then to proceed and clear the Border Outposts. The C Company and an Adhoc Force, was tasked to setup the road blocks and hold the approaches, while the main attack on Atgram was to be carried out by A and D Companies. To achieve maximum possible surprise, as well as a psychological factor, the main attack was planned with Khukris. 2nd Lt Hawa Singh was the  commander of one platoon of A company.

As planned 4/5 GR crossed River Surma in the earlier part of the night of 20 November 1971. C Company and Commanding Officers Group were first to cross with the help of pneumatic boats, established firm base across the river for battalion to pass through and move in between Pakistani BOP’s. The assaulting troops {A and D Company} including the platoon of 2nd Lt Hawa Singh neared the objective in the later part of the night. At about 0430 Hours on 21 Nov 1971, when A and D Company, led by their commanders, with CO in the centre, launched fierce Khukri assault and as the dawn broke captured Atgram. Pakistanis were caught by surprise and met their end with raw courage of Indian soldiers. The assaulting platoons led by 2nd Lt Hawa Singh and Capt Praveen Johri fought with gallantry and sheer dare devilry. However during the fierce fighting, 2nd Lt Hawa Singh got seriously injured and was martyred.

2nd Lt Hawa Singh was given the nation’s third highest gallantry award, “Vir Chakra” for his outstanding courage, unyielding fighting spirit and supreme sacrifice during the operation.

The citation of the Award reads:

“A Battalion of the Gorkha Rifles was given the task of capturing an enemy position in an area in the Eastern Sector. The enemy was holding a well fortified position supported by Medium Machine Guns.  During the assault Second Lieutenant Hawa Sigh was seriously wounded by enemy fire. Undeterred and regardless of his personal safety, he pressed his charge and cleared five enemy bunkers and killed a number of enemy personnel.  His daring example inspired his Company to capture the objective.  Later he succumbed to his injuries. In this action, Second Lieutenant Hawa Singh displayed commendable courage, initiative and determination.”

The inauguration of a War memorial to honour Lt Hawa Singh was held at his village Mirzapur, Hisar on 21 Nov 2019. A bust of the martyr was also unveiled.

Swaraj Parkash – As A Head Commander of INS Vikrant Ghosted Every Pakistani Ship Proving it to be a Game-changer for India in 1971 War

Swaraj Parkash was born on 3 September 1923 in Jullundur Punjab of British India. He was commissioned into the Royal Indian Navy in December 1942 as a Midshipman. He was posted as an acting Sub-Lieutenant on 3 September 1943. Swaraj also attended the Naval College of UK for the Ling Navigation and Direction Course. He got promoted to the rank of Lt. Commander in 1952 after which he attended the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington in 1955.

Lt. Com. Parkash commanded the INS Krisna, INS Khukri, INS Betwa and many more world-class ships of the Indian Navy. Co. Swaraj Parkash also attended the Naval War College at Newport in the US.

During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, Parkash was the head commander of the aircraft carrier INS Vikrant (R11). They were tasked to create havoc in Pakistani harbours by eliminating threats of Pakistani ships and tons of cargo being shifted from West Pakistan to East Pakistan. Parkash devised a strong plan for a frontal attack on Pakistani warships and thus, the Alize and Hawker Sea Hawk fighter jets from the INS Vikrant launched multiple bombings on Chittagong and Cox’s Bazaar. The constant airstrikes under the command of Lt. Co. Parkash resulted in the sinking of 11 Pakistani ships and destroying a huge amount of merchant cargo in Eastern waters. The new submarine of Pakistan, PNS Ghazi was also unsuccessful in defeating INS Vikrant despite multiple attempts. Commander Parkash beautifully played in the Indian waters causing a major loss to Pakistan and thus, protecting our coastline from possible dangers. INS Vikrant under Parkash’s strategic warfare strategies ghosted every Pakistani ship proving it to be a game-changer for India. The Bangladesh coast was dead scared of Indian troops due to battle skills shown by the Vikrant. For his exemplary bravery, meticulous planning and outstanding warfare leadership, Lt. Commander Swaraj Parkash was awarded the Maha Vir Chakra.

The citation read: “Captain Swaraj Parkash Commanded INS VIKRANT which was the nucleus of the Naval interdiction and strike force operating against the enemy in the Bay of Bengal. Throughout the period of those operations, the ship was operating in most hazardous waters and was the principal target both for the enemy Submarines and Aircraft. With indomitable spirit, he launched ceaseless offensive operations against the enemy. The successful air strikes from the VIKRANT had devastating effect on Ports all along the Bangladesh coast and completely denied the enemy the use of sea and island waterways. The complete supremacy of our Naval force symbolized by the VIKRANT paralyzed the enemy, shattered his morale and considerably expedited the enemy’s capitulation in the Eastern Theatre. Captain Swaraj Parkash displayed conspicuous gallantry inspiring leadership, professional skill and devotion to duty in keeping with the highest traditions of the Indian Navy.” After the war, Parkash was promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral in 1973 thus, presiding as the Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff. He also assumed command of the entire Western Fleet of Indian Navy and became the Flag Officer. On 2 April 1976, Parkash rose to the rank of Vice-Admiral and took over the Eastern Command. In 1978, he was awarded the Param Vishisht Seva Medal for his service. The Indian Coast Guard term came into action in 1978 and on 1 April 1980, Vice-Admiral Parkash became the Director-General of the ICG succeeding Vice-Admiral V A Kamath. He served there for two years finally retiring on 31 March 1982.

Sandhu’s Family – The Only Family in the Country to be Awarded Four Shaurya Chakras

Tarn Taran was among the worst-hit districts during militancy in Punjab. The family of Balwinder Singh Sandhu fought against terrorism in the state for decades, facing at least 16 terror attacks during height of Khalistani militancy in Punjab and subsequently 28 other terror attacks but had been able to repudiate them all while fighting militants along with his brother and their wives. Inspired by Sandhu and his family, many people followed him and defended themselves from terror attacks.

Balwinder Singh Sandhu, his wife Jagadish Kaur Sandhu, his older brother Ranjit Singh Sandhu and his wife Balraj Kaur Sandhu were awarded Shaurya Chakra for their bravery by the President in 1993.  His is the only family in the country that has been awarded four Shaurya Chakras for showing unique courage and valour. Documentaries have also been made on their anti-terror feats.

The citation for the Shaurya Chakra Award to the above four mentions, “Balwinder Singh Sandhu and his brother Ranjit Singh Sandhu are opposed to the activities of terrorists. They were on the hit lists of terrorists. The terrorists so far have made 16 attempts to wipe out the Sandhu’s family within in about 11 months.

The terrorists attacked them in groups of 10 to 200, but every time Sandhu brothers with the help of their brave wives Jagdish Kaur Sandhu and Balraj Kaur Sandhu have successfully failed the attempts of militants to kill them. Militants had attacked the family on January 31, 1990 for the first time.

The family had faced the deadliest attack on September 30, 1990 when around 200 terrorists surrounded their house from all sides and attacked them continuously for five hours with deadly weapons including rocket launchers. In this well-planned attack by terrorists, the approach road of the house was blocked by spreading underground mines so that no help from police could reach them.

Undaunted, Sandhu brothers and their wives fought terrorists with pistols and sten-guns provided by the government. The resistance shown by Sandhu brothers and their family members forced the terrorists to retreat. All these persons have displayed courage and bravery of a high order in facing the attack of the terrorists and failing their repeated murderous attempts.”

Unfortunately, in October 2020, Shaurya Chakra awardee Balwinder Singh Sandhu was shot dead by unknown assailants in Tarn Taran, months after the government withdrew his security cover. The motorcycle-borne men pumped four bullets into 62-year-old Sandhu when he was at his office adjoining his home in Bhikhiwind near Tarn Taran and escaped. He was rushed to a hospital where doctors declared him brought dead.

As per his wife, who stood by him to fight against terrorism, over 40 FIRs have been registered in attacks on their family. The previous one was in December 2018 when unknown persons fired at their house. Balwinder is survived by wife, two sons, Gagandeep Singh and Arshdeep Singh, and a daughter. They have expressed suspicion that Balwinder’s killing is a terror attack. “We don’t have any kind of personal enmity. This is a clear-cut attack by terrorists. I have fought against terrorism. Now, when he has been martyred, I will give a tougher fight to get the justice,” said Kaur, his wife.