Children, meet the men of steel who gave supreme sacrifice to keep our country safe. With acts of selfless bravery, they have won the country”s highest wartime gallantry award that is the Param Vir Chakra. But how well do you know them? Here”s a look at what they have done to win what”s arguably the highest honour of the country.
Major Somnath Sharma (Posthumous)
Major Sharma was awarded the medal for his bravery in the Kashmir operations in November 1947. Even though his right hand was cast in a plaster, he insisted on being with his comrades in the battle. While he was busy fighting the enemy, a mortar shell exploded on the ammunition near him. His last message to Brigade HQ was received a few moments before he was killed. He said, “The enemies are only 50 yards from us. We are heavily outnumbered. We are under devastating fire. I shall not withdraw an inch but will fight to our last man and our last round.” The brave soldier gave his life fighting, but prevented the fall of Srinagar and perhaps the Kashmir Valley to Pakistan. Major General Amarnath Sharma received India”s first and highest wartime gallantry medal, Param Vir Chakra, on behalf of his son.
Param Vir Chakra (PVC)
India”s highest military decoration is awarded for the highest degree of valour or self-sacrifice in the presence of the enemy. The medal has been awarded 21 times, 14 of which were posthumous awards, and 16 were awarded for their action in Indo-Pakistan conflicts alone.
Lance Naik Karam Singh
Lance Naik Karam Singh was enrolled in 1 Sikh Regiment on September 15, 1941. He had earned a Military Medal in World War II. During the Jammu & Kashmir operations in 1948, the Indian Army made substantial gains in the Tithwal Sector. Karam Singh was honoured for his outstanding role in the battle of Tithwal.
Second Lieutenant Rama Raghoba Rane
He served with distinction during the 1947-48 Jammu & Kashmir operations. On March 18, 1948, the Indian Army recaptured Jhangar, which was lost to the enemy in December 1947. Indian troops then planned an advance from Naushahra to Rajouri. Rane made a substantial contribution in facilitating the Indian advance on Rajouri. The gallant effort made by Rane during this critical advance earned him the
Param Vir Chakra.
Naik Jadunath Singh (Posthumous)
Naik Jadunath Singh was enrolled in the 1 Rajput Regiment on November 21, 1941. During the Jammu & Kashmir operations in the winter of 1947, the capture of Jhangar on December 24th, by the Pakistani raiders, placed them in an advantageous position in the Naushera sector. At a most critical stage in the battle for the defence of Naushera, he saved his picket from being overrun by the enemy. Naik Jadunath Singh was honoured with the Param Vir Chakra, posthumously.
Company Havildar Major Piru Singh (Posthumous)
Enrolled in the 6 Rajputana Rifles on May 20, 1936. During the Jammu & Kashmir operations in summer of 1948, Pakistani raiders mounted a strong counter offensive in the Tithwal Sector. The enemy also forced the Indian Army to vacate their forward positions across river Kishanganga. After the setback, Indian troops took position on the Tithwal ridge. Havilder Major Piru Singh laid down his life, in a brave fight against the enemies, leaving for the rest of his comrades a unique example of single-handed bravery and determined courage.
Captain Gurbachan Singh Salaria (Posthumous)
Captain Gurbachan Singh Salaria was born on November 29, 1935, in Gurdaspur, Punjab. He was commissioned in the 1 Gorkha Rifles on 9 June 1957. After the Belgians quit Congo, a civil war situation developed in that country. When the United Nations decided upon military intervention to retrieve the situation, India contributed a brigade of around 3,000 men to the UN Force. Captain Salaria prevented the enemy from going to the roundabout thereby saving the UN Headquarters in Elizabethville from encirclement. For his extraordinary leadership and devotion to duty, he was awarded the highest wartime medal, posthumously.
Major Dhan Singh Thapa
Major Dhan Singh Thapa, born on April 10, 1928 in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, was commissioned in the 8 Gorkha Rifles on August 28, 1949. The Sirijap Valley, north of the Pangong Lake in Ladakh, was considered vital for the defence of Chushul airfield. The 1/8 Gorkha Rifles had outposts there to thwart any enemy encroachment in the area. One of these outposts named Sirijap-1 was held by a platoon of “D” Company under the command of Major Dhan Singh Thapa when the Chinese attack came on October 21, 1962. Major Thapa repulsed the attack, inflicting heavy losses on the enemy. For his gallant act, Major Dhan Singh Thapa was honoured with the Param Vir Chakra.
Subedar Joginder Singh (Posthumous)
On September 28, 1936, he was enrolled in the 1 Sikh Regiment. During the 1962 Indo-China War, Subedar Joginder Singh commanded a platoon in the Tawang Sector of North East Frontier Agency. On October 23, the Chinese launched an attack on the Bum La Pass. Subedar Joginder Singh and his platoon stood firm like a rock. Singh, despite a wound in the thigh, refused evacuation. He manned a light machine gun and killed a large number of enemies till all ammunition with the platoon had been exhausted. Subedar Joginder Singh and his men fell upon the advancing enemy and bayoneted many to death. Subedar Singh was killed in this epic battle. He is remembered for his inspiring leadership, courage and devotion to duty.
Major Shaitan Singh (Posthumous)
Major Shaitan Singh, son of Lieutenant Colonel Hem Singhji, was commissioned in the Kumaon Regiment on August 01, 1949. During the 1962 Indo-China conflict, 13 Kumaon was deployed in Chusul Sector. The battalion led by Major Shaitan Singh held a crucial position at Rezang La, at a height of 5,000 metres. The expected Chinese attack on Rezang La came on November 18. Unmindful of his personal safety, Major Shaitan Singh moved from one platoon post to another and encouraged his men to fight. He was wounded and laid his life for the country.
Company Havildar Major Abdul Hamid (Posthumous)
Company Quarter-Master Havildar Abdul Hamid was enrolled in the 4 Grenadiers on December 27, 1954. During the 1965 Indo-Pak War, 4 Indian Division was entrusted with the responsibility of capturing Pak territory East of Lchhogil Canal and contain possible enemy attack on Kasur-Khem Karan axis. The enemy tanks had penetrated the forward company positions. Hamid was commanding a recoilless gun detachment. He knocked out two enemy tanks. By this time the enemy brought down concentrated machine gun and high explosive fire on him. But he kept on firing. He was mortally wounded by a high explosive shell. Hamid was honoured for the supreme sacrifice with the Param Vir Chakra, posthumously.
We will bring you some more stories of the glorious men of the armed forces in the next edition.