Category Archives: Nation

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.

General Arunkumar Sridhar Vaidya – An Outstanding Military Leader Who Served the Indian Army Religiously for More Than Four Decades

General Arunkumar Sridhar Vaidya assumed charge of the Indian Army, as the 13th Chief of Army Staff, on 31 July 1983. Born on 27 January 1926, he was commissioned into the Indian Armoured Corps in 1945 and saw battle during the Second World War. He was the seventh post-independence commander of the 9th Deccan Horse, one of the oldest armoured regiments in the Indian Army.

During the 1965 Indo-Pak War, then Lieutenant Colonel Vaidya was in command of the Deccan Horse. From September 6th to 11th, his unit fought a series of actions in Asal Uttar and Cheema, both in Punjab. He showed inspiring leadership and remarkable resourcefulness in organising his unit and fighting against heavy odds and inflicted severe casualties on the Pakistan Army’s Patton tanks. For his exceptional bravery he was awarded the Maha Vir Chakra (India’s second highest medal for gallantry).

During the 1971 Indo-Pak conflict, then Brigadier Vaidya was commander of an armoured brigade in the Zafarwal sector on the western front. He moved his brigade swiftly to get to grips with the Pakistan Army and took the enemy tanks by surprise. He employed his tanks relentlessly & aggressively and helped the division to maintain constant pressure & momentum of advance against the Pakistan Army. In the battle of Chakra and Dahira, the going was difficult due to hostile terrain combined with minefields. In a cool and confident manner, he undertook the crossing through the minefield and moved forward, disregarding his own personal safety. Through his inspiring leadership, the entire squadron pushed through the lane and quickly deployed itself to meet the Pakistan Army’s counter-attacks.

During the Battle of Basantar in the Shakargarh sector, also during the 1971 Indo-Pak conflict, Brigadier Vaidya again displayed his professional skill and superb leadership. He got his tanks through one of the deepest minefields, expanded the bridgehead and repulsed a strong enemy counter-attack. In this battle, 62 Pakistan Army tanks were destroyed. Throughout, he displayed outstanding courage, great professional skill, indomitable will, foresight and imagination in fighting against the enemy in keeping with the best traditions of the Indian Army. For this he was awarded a second Maha Vir Chakra (known as the Bar to MVC).

He was elevated to various ranks and he proved his mettle in all such ranks. His tackling of the insurgency problems in his command has been particularly praiseworthy. He was awarded the Param Vishisht Seva Medal (PVSM) in 1983 for distinguished service of the most exceptional order.

General Vaidya took over as the Chief of the Army Staff from 01 August 1983 to 31 January 1985. During his tenure as Army Chief, he planned Operation Bluestar in 1984 – a controversial military action against militant Khalistan separatists who barricaded themselves in the Sikh’s most holiest shrine – the Golden Temple in Punjab. He described the operation as the most difficult and painful decision of his career. He retired on 31 January 1986 after completing more than 40 years of service and retired to a quiet life in Pune.

Shortly before he retired, his staff had warned him of the danger to his life from Sikh militants who, in several letters that landed in South Block almost every day, threatened to assassinate him for leading Operation Bluestar. His response was straightforward and soldier like: “After seeing two wars I can’t run away from danger. If a bullet is destined to get me it will come with my name written on it.”

As predicted, he was assassinated by Khalistan separatists on 10 August 1986, in retaliation for the Indian Army’s attack on the Golden Temple. He was posthumously awarded the Padma Vibhushan – India’s second highest civilian honour – for his tireless service to the nation.

An outstanding military leader, General Vaidya gave the Indian Army a very sound leadership and brought with him an aura of gallantry, valour and remarkable reservoir of combat experience befitting the head of the army. He had the distinction of being among the most decorated soldiers in the defence services.

Edul Jahangir Dhatigara – Who was Awarded for Undertaking a Very Hazardous Supply Dropping Mission Despite Receiving Many Bullet Hits

Air Marshal Edul Jahangir Dhatigara (1899) was commissioned in Flying (Pilot) Branch of the India Air Force in June 1942. He served with distinction during the operations in North West Frontier Provinces in 1943-44, J&K in 1948, Nagaland in 1956, Goa in 1962, Ladakh in 1962 and Indo-Pakistan of 1965 and 1971.

Early in his career, as a flight Commander of a Transport Squadron, he successfully organised relief operations during the earthquake and flood catastrophe that had struck Assam in 1950. In October, 1954, he was assigned the command of an Air Force Station in the Eastern Sector. In this capacity he planned and executed counter-insurgency operations in 1956. During these operations he undertook a very hazardous supply dropping mission in which his aircraft received many bullet hits from ground fire. For this act of courage and leadership he was awarded the Kirti Chakra. 

The citation of the Kirti Chakra Award read: “During the operation in the Naga Hills, the outpost garrison at Sakhai was cut off on 27th March 1956 and the hostiles kept up the attack on the outpost throughout the night. Next morning an emergency message was received that unless an immediate airdrop of water and ammunition was carried out at Sakhai, the garrison would have no means of defence. The aircraft which had flown on a normal sortie earlier that day had reported fast deterioration of weather and had suggested stoppages of further flying. The garrison commander pressed that the airdrop was absolutely essential. In the circumstances Wing Commander Dhatigara decided to make the attempt himself. There was also the requirement that the airdrop should be made in a zone of 40 yards by 20 yards. On reaching the spot Wing Commander Dhatigara found that dropping zone was partially covered and the air was very turbulent. After the first run-in, the outpost informed the aircraft that dropping circuit should be changed as the aircraft was being fired upon when passing over the villages of Sakhai, Vishyepu and Khivi. But due to clouds no other circuit was possible. Wing Commander Dhatigara, disregarding the advice from the outpost continued the airdropping operations in spite of bad weather and automatic fire from the hostiles. The supply of water and ammunition was successfully delivered to the garrison in good time and good condition.

By volunteering to carry out the airdrop under very adverse weather conditions and in the face of heavy automatic fire Wing Commander Edul Jahangir Dhatigara displayed initiative, courage and skill which was in the best traditions of the I.A.F.”

After the Goa operations in 1962, he was entrusted the task of clearing Dabolim airport of unexploded bombs and repairing the damaged airfield. He accomplished this heavy task in a short span of six days. For this valuable service he was commended by the Chief of the Air Staff.

In 1964, he was assigned the Command of an operational Wing in the Eastern Sector. In this capacity, he was responsible for the successful operations carried out by Fighters and Transport aircraft against Pakistan in September, 1965. During the Indo-Pak war of 1971, he was the Air Officer Commanding of an operational Wing in the Western Sector and under his inspiring leadership the Wing made conspicuous contributions towards the achievements of Fighter and Bomber squadrons during the operations against Pakistan.

Air Vice Marshal Dhatigara took over as Assistant Chief of the Air staff (Operations) at Air Headquarters in June, 1972. He has successfully tackled intricate operational problems and has established a very amiable and most satisfactory rapport with his counterparts in Army and Naval Headquarters.

Air Marshal Edul Jahangir Dhatigara retired after rendering a distinguished service of the most exceptional order. He passed away on 4th October 2010.

Captain Vijayant Thapar – Besides Being A Soldier with Nerves of Steel Was a Fine Human Being with a Golden Heart

22-year-old Captain Vijyant Thapar, though lived a short life was one crowded with equal measures of valour, victory and kindness; one that best summed up the adage — “live life king-size” 

Capt Vijayant Thapar was born on 26 Dec 1976 in a military family to Colonel V N Thapar and Mrs Tripta Thapar. Having brought up in the army family Capt Thapar always wanted to follow in the footsteps of his father. He pursued his dream and worked hard to get selected in IMA Dehradun. He did exceedingly well in his training and was commissioned into 2 Rajputana Rifles on 12 Dec 1998. Capt Vijayant’s first unit 2 Rajputana Rifles was at Gwalior in 1998. He stayed there for a month before the unit moved to Kashmir to undertake anti-insurgency operations. Here Capt Vijyant was involved in two fierce encounters. While talking to his mother on the telephone he described how he lived through a live encounter in which about thirty bullets were fired at him. Later his unit was tasked to move to Drass in Kargil sector to undertake operations against Pak forces who had occupied Tololing, Tiger Hill, and adjoining heights.

On 11 June 1999, Capt Vijayant’s battalion under the command of Col M.B. Ravindernath, was tasked to capture the feature Tololing. After the initial assault by Major Mohit Saxena was held up, on the night of 12th June’99, Capt Vijayant Thapar led his platoon to capture a Pakistani position called Barbad Bunker which proved crucial for the onward battle for Tololing. During this attack 2 Pakistani soldiers were killed in the melee of fire from sides and behind. Tololing was the first victory for Indian army on 13th June 1999 and was the turning point in the war.

Later on 28 June, 2 Raj Rif was given the task of capturing Three Pimples, Knoll and Lone Hill area. The attack started with Capt Vijayant’s platoon leading on a full moon night along a razor sharp ridge with no cover to offer. There were intense and accurate artillery shelling and heavy enemy fire. He lost some of his dear men and some more were injured causing the attack to be disrupted. However, with his indomitable spirit and strong determination, he moved ahead along with his troops through a ravine to face the enemy. It was a full moon night and was a very difficult position to capture. The troops of enemy’s 6 Northern Light Infantry had all the advantages.

At 8 PM the attack commenced when 120 guns opened fire and rockets lit up the sky. In this heavy exchange of fire 2 Raj Rif moved with Capt  Vijayant Thapar leading the attack. Among the first to fall in this battle was Sep Jagmal Singh, Capt  Vijayant’s very dear orderly. Finally, Capt Vijayant’s company secured a foothold on Knoll. By this time his company commander Major P Acharya had been killed.  Enraged at this news, Capt  Vijayant surged ahead with his comrade Naik Tilak Singh. Both of them started engaging the enemy merely 15 meters away. There were three enemy machine guns firing towards them. After about an hour and a half of fierce exchange of fire Capt  Vijayant realized that the enemy machine guns had to be silenced to continue their advance towards their objective.

The ridge beyond Knoll was very narrow and sharp and only 2 or 3 soldiers could walk abreast. The danger of getting killed here was very real and therefore Capt Vijayant decided to go ahead himself with Naik Tilak Singh. Capt  Vijayant in a daring move surged ahead to do that but was hit by a burst of fire that struck him on his head. He fell in the arms of his comrade Naik Tilak Singh. Capt  Vijayant, who was just 22 years old, was martyred but motivated by his daredevilry and leadership, his troops later charged at the enemy and fully captured Knoll. The victory at Knoll on 29 June 1999, is a saga of unmatched bravery, grit and determination. 

Capt Vijayant Thapar was awarded, “Vir Chakra” for his gallantry, unyielding fighting spirit and supreme sacrifice.

Though Vijayant Thapar has left the world, he has left a touching legacy which exemplifies his golden heart. In 1999, a six year old Kashmiri girl named, Ruksana had lost her speech when her father Mohammad Akbar was brutally murdered by militants in front of her eyes in her village in Kupwara district of Jammu and Kashmir. In the same year that Ruksana’s father was murdered, Captain Vijayant Thapar, who was posted in the district learnt about Ruksana from her aunt and started loving the child immensely. This beautiful relationship developed into trust and Capt Thapar’s persistent efforts paid off when Ruksana started speaking again. Capt Thapar would contribute a small amount of money each month to the girl’s poor family towards her education.

In the letter that Captain Thapar wrote to his family before the Tololing assault, he passionately declared that if he were to be reincarnated as a human, he would join the Army and fight for the nation again. He also urged his family to donate his organs, and continue to take care of Ruksana. Describing their bond, he requested his family to keep sending her money every month. Colonel Thapar, who is Captain Thapar’s father, stated that although the family lives in Noida, they have honoured the wishes of their late son, stayed in touch with Ruksana, and send her money on an annual basis. In fact, Colonel Thapar had met Ruksana and her mother in 2015 and was happy to see that she was going to school regularly.