Rare case of courage of conviction
It is not very common to come across one who opts to stand by his convictions and stake all. However, our army does show up, once in a while, an officer who displays courage to stand by, against all manner of odds, a cause he considers to be in the best interest of his troops, unit or formation. Lt Gen Harwant Singh (retd) writes.chandigarh Updated: Dec 13, 2013 09:35 IST
It is not very common to come across one who opts to stand by his convictions and stake all. However, our army does show up, once in a while, an officer who displays courage to stand by, against all manner of odds, a cause he considers to be in the best interest of his troops, unit or formation. One has seen some very talented officers fall by the way side because they stood by their conviction and declined to bend or change their stance and fall in line with the wrongdoings of their seniors.
In this context, one needs to recall the case of Brigadier Sukhjit Singh (retd), a highly decorated officer who stood by the best interest of his regiment and gallantly faced the wrath of the then defence minister, Bansi Lal. The charitable trust of Sukhjit's regiment had a large farm, where Sukhjit was one of the trustees. Some politically influential persons tried to grab a part of the land through devious means. These people had contacts with Bansi Lal, who as defence minister tried to brow beat Sukhjit.
Brigadier Sukhjit Singh, a Maha Vir Chakra awardee, was then holding a coveted appointment in the military operations directorate at the army headquarters and was well on his way to moving into the highest ranks in the military. So the choice for him was to bow before the pressure from the defence minister and take the ladder to higher ranks or stand by the interests of his regiment and his own convictions.
Sukhjit had distinguished himself in the 1965 war against Pakistan, during the tank battles in the Dera Baba Nanak sector and had come to be adored by his troops for his courage. If the enemy could not push him around, surely the defence minister could do no better. Being a man of honour and no pushover, he stood his ground against the inappropriate interest being displayed, in the case, by the defence minister. However, when the higher command in the military buckled before the defence minister and failed to stand by Sukhjit, and his regiment's just cause, he simply resigned from service, to the great loss of the military.
Brigadier Sukhjit had no personal interest in this case, but being a staunch regimental officer and to protect its interests, has kept engaged with the ongoing legal case. He is a man of unimpeachable integrity and character and has always lived by the highest standards of probity. He enjoys the greatest respect in army circles and outside. He is the erstwhile Maharaja of the state of Kapurthala. He has presented to The Scinde Horse (his regiment) artefacts and other items whose cost would amount to a couple of crores of rupees.