It was a tearful adieu as a number of people from all walks of life, including army officers, bureaucrats and close family friends, came to pay their last respects to Brigadier Sant Singh, 94, who was among the only six persons to be awarded Maha Vir Chakra (MVC) & Bar. He died at Fortis Hospital, SAS Nagar, on Tuesday night.
The soldiers from 5 Sikh Light Infantry (LI), which Brig Sant Singh had commanded in the past, had come from Mamun Cantonment, Pathankot, to provide military funeral honour.
The wreaths were laid on behalf of Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president Capt Amarinder Singh, Army Commander Western Command and Commanding Officer of 5 Sikh LI Colonel K Sandeep Kumar.
Born in Khera village of Faridkot district, Brigadier Sant Singh had joined the Army around the World War 2 in Burma (Myanmar). He also fought wars with Pakistan in 1948, 1965 and 1971; besides the 1962 war with China, and won the MVC both in 1965 and 1971 wars, before retiring in 1973.
Special principal secretary (to the Punjab CM) KJS Cheema and SAS Nagar senior superintendent of police GS Bhullar also paid their tributes.
Surprisingly, no senior official from the UT administration and the Chandigarh municipal corporation, were present, or, laid wreath on their behalf.
General VP Malik (retired), who led the Army to victory in the Kargil War, commented, “A brave soldier... we will never forget Brig Sant Singh’s contribution to the country.”
Lt Gen Gurbaksh Singh Sihota, who retired as Army Commander of Southern Command, and, is currently president of the War Decorated of India (TWDI), said, “He was a great man and pride of The War Decorated of India (TWDI). He did a lot for us. He looked after widows and their children, worked for our cause, and brought glory to Punjab. Even raindrops coming from the sky today are a sign of the heaven’s blessings upon him.”
Colonel Kumar said, “He commanded my unit from 1964 to 1968. During the Indo-Pak war in 1965, he captured Op Hill for which he was awarded Maha Vir Chakra. Recently, we celebrated golden jubilee of 5 Sikh LI, and his recorded message was played to soldiers.”
No UT admn official present
“It’s shocking that no UT or MC official was present at the cremation of decorated soldier Brig Sant Singh. He was the last surviving veteran, who got the MVC twice. It shows how much respect the powerful lobby has for the saviours of the country,”said nominated MC councillor Major DS Sandhu (retired).