Marshal of the Indian Air Force Arjan Singh will get state funeral tomorrow

Agencies, New Delhi | By
Sep 17, 2017 08:27 PM IST

Arjan Singh is the first and only officer to have been elevated to Marshal of the Indian Air Force. The 1965 war hero’s funeral will be held on Monday.

A state funeral will be accorded to Marshal of the Indian Air Force Arjan Singh and the national flag will fly at half mast in all government buildings in New Delhi on Monday in his honour, the home ministry has said.

Marshal of the Indian Air Force Arjan Singh speaks during a conference on the aerospace Industry in New Delhi.(HT FILE PHOTO)
Marshal of the Indian Air Force Arjan Singh speaks during a conference on the aerospace Industry in New Delhi.(HT FILE PHOTO)

Arjan Singh, the hero of the 1965 India-Pakistan war and the only Air Force officer to be promoted to five-star rank, died at the Army’s Research and Referral Hospital at the age of 98 on Saturday.

“As a mark of respect to the departed dignitary, a state funeral will be accorded and national flag will fly half-mast on the day of the funeral (September 18) in Delhi on all buildings where it is flown regularly,” a home ministry spokesperson said on Sunday.

Singh’s funeral will be held at Brar Square at 10:am on Monday.

The war hero

Singh was entrusted with the responsibility of leading the IAF when he was only 44 years old, a task he carried out with elan. He was the chief of the IAF when it found itself at the forefront of the 1965 conflict.

Singh, who had flown more than 60 different types of aircraft, had played a major role in transforming the IAF into one of the most potent air forces globally and the fourth biggest in the world.

Known as a man of few words, he was not only a fearless fighter pilot but had profound knowledge about air power which he applied in a wide spectrum of air operations. He was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian honour, in 1965.

Promoted to the rank of Squadron Leader in 1944, Singh also flew close support missions during the crucial Imphal campaign and later assisted the advancing of the allied forces to Yangon, formerly called Rangoon.

Towards the end of the 1962 Sino-India war, he was appointed as the deputy chief of air staff and became the vice chief of air staff the next year.

On August 1, 1964, Singh took over as the chief of air staff (CAS) in the rank of Air Marshal. He was the first air chief who kept his flying category till his CAS rank.

A testing time came in September 1965 when Pakistan launched Operation Grand Slam, in which an armoured thrust targeted the vital town of Akhnur in Jammu and Kashmir, he was summoned into the defence minister’s office with a request for air support.

When asked how quickly the IAF will be ready for operations, he replied with his characteristic nonchalance, “ an hour”. And true to his word, the Air Force struck the Pakistani offensive in an hour.

Leaders mourn demise

Condoling his death, Goa CM Manohar Parrikar called him the father of IAF’s modernisation efforts.

“His dedication to our nation and his exemplary leadership capabilities will continue to inspire our armed forces,” Parrikar said in a tweet.

On Saturday, leaders across political spectrum hailed the contribution of Singh, the only officer of the IAF to be promoted to five-star rank, equivalent to a Field Marshal in the Army.

President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the nation in mourning the demise of the war hero.

“Marshal of the IAF Arjan Singh was a WW II hero & won our nation’s gratitude for his military leadership in 1965 war,” Kovind said on Twitter.

Modi said India would never forget his excellent leadership in the 1965 war when the Indian Air Force saw substantial action.

“India mourns the unfortunate demise of Marshal of the Indian Air Force Arjan Singh. We remember his outstanding service to the nation,” he tweeted.

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