The birth centenary of India’s greatest soldier and commander, Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw fell on April 3. To my mind it didn’t evoke the kind of response that it should have from the armed forces or the public. Manekshaw was not only the architect of India’s victory in the 1971 war but lessons drawn from his life, career, ideals and leadership style will remain relevant forever. May I suggest that some of his admirers set up a society to perpetuate his memory and the ideas of leadership as enunciated by him? That would be a fitting tribute to him and a means to inspire future generations with values drawn from his stirring life.
A VALIANT SON OF PUNJAB
Naib Singh, the son and grandson of soldiers was a braveheart from Mallewala, Faridkot district, who joined the Sikh Regiment in 1960. 1971 found him serving with the regiment’s 6th battalion. Raised at Meerut on February 9, 1962, the battalion is known throughout the Indian Army as ‘Chhe Sikh’ revelling in its motto of ‘Agey Kadam’ (Forever Forward). Commanding a section Naib Singh was part of the unit’s doughty defence of Poonchh under command 93 Brigade of 25 (Ace of Spades) Division.
On the intervening night of December 3/4, the enemy launched a strong attack on our position known locally as the helipad in a bid to capture the heights around the town. Naik Naib Singh directed his men coolly, motivating them to bring down a blistering fire on the attackers. Realising that the enemy were almost upon them he came out into the communication trench connecting his bunker and took on the Pakistanis in hand to hand combat killing an enemy soldier with his bayonet.
Unfortunately, he was killed by an air burst shell. Naib Singh made the supreme sacrifice but the 6 Sikh defences held firm the unit being awarded the battle honour ‘Defence of Poonchh’ and the theatre honour ‘Jammu & Kashmir 1971’, a just reward for a most gallant effort indeed. For his cool courage, leadership and determination to defend his post, Naik Naib Singh was awarded the Vir Chakra.
A memorial erected in his honour by his fellow villagers and family members keeps alive his memory. A trust formed in his memory renders charitable services to the local people. This includes a modern hospital with diagnostic and treatment facilities which are a boon for the area. An annual function on the anniversary of his martyrdom is held in the village. Just another valiant son of the nation, just another village in Punjab but the efforts put in by the villagers to maintain their legacy of courage and martial traditions must not just be applauded but emulated.
INS VIKRAMADITYA AFFILIATION
The Bihar Regiment has forwarded a proposal to Naval HQ for affiliation with INS Vikramaditya, the navy’s latest modified Kievclass aircraft carrier which finally entered service on November 16 last year after years of negotiations, refurbishments and delays. The Vikramaditya reached Karwar naval base on the western coast in Karnataka on January 7 after a round the world voyage from Severodvinsk in northern Russia. After induction of the air group and induction of operational systems she is now fully operational. Meanwhile, the Bihar Regiment’s proposal is getting the active consideration of the naval brass.