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Sitrep | Remembering a martyred war hero

It is appreciable that rural people of India continue to defend the country, accepting sacrifices by their family members with a lot of courage and strength

punjab Updated: May 21, 2017 14:27 IST
Mandeep Singh Bajwa
Mandeep Singh Bajwa
Hindustan Times
India,Punjab,Indian armed forces
Paramjit Kaur, wife of slain Naib Subedar Paramjit Singh flanked by the martyr's parents. The valiant traditions of rural Punjab continue to motivate young men to contribute to the country’s defence. (PHOTO BY AUTHOR)

On December 17, 1971, 2 Sikh launched an attack to recapture Pul Kanjri village and border post in Amritsar district. Just over a platoon strength of the battalion took on two plus companies of the Pakistani 43 Punjab and prevailed. Later on a determined counter-attack by the enemy’s 15 Punjab was beaten off by them. A couple of months after the war, my father took over 54 Brigade deployed for the defence of Amritsar. I was taken to Pul Kanjri to see for myself the scene of the Ludhiana Sikhs’ triumph and hear about the stirring tale of Lance Naik Shinghara Singh.

Commanding the leading section, he found his men pinned down by intense machine-gun fire from a well-sited bunker. Nothing deterred, he slowly crawled up to the enemy fortification, lobbed in a grenade and physically pulled out the machine-gun. In the process, Shinghara Singh was shot multiple times and attained martyrdom shortly afterwards. 2 Sikh took the Pul Kanjri complex and held it. Even at that tender age, I was so moved by the brave Majhail’s valour that tears rolled down my cheeks and dropped on the soil sanctified by his blood. A grateful nation awarded him the Maha Vir Chakra. His memory was kept alive by a fair at his village, Chohla Sahib, district Tarn Taran, on the anniversary of his martyrdom.

My vow taken forty-five years ago to visit the braveheart’s home was fulfilled recently. I was moved to see that ex-servicemen of Chohla Sahib had persuaded their Panchayat to donate two acres of land and developed a very fine park in his memory, complete with lush green lawns, boundary walls, trees and Shinghara Singh’s statue. Now they await a dignitary to inaugurate it.

Lessons from a Martyr’s Family

The family of Naib Subedar Paramjit Singh of 22 Sikh, recently martyred on the LOC was stoic in the face of their bereavement when I met them at their village, Vein Poin in Tarn Taran district recently. Theirs was a quiet acceptance of their shattering loss. Beyond that, there was a great deal of anger against the enemy, Pakistan, whose troops had committed this dastardly and unsoldierly act. The anger extended to our own political masters for not extracting a strong price from the enemy as vengeance. Understandably, there was anxiety about the children’s uncertain future. The Punjab government would do well to issue a formal letter reiterating its promises of jobs.

These are the salt of the earth, our rural families who have been sending their young sons to defend the country with their sweat and blood, bearing their grievous losses with fortitude and continuing to serve us generation after generation. My humble salute to the family of the Subedar and those of our countless defenders.

Sukanya Class Offshore Patrol Vessels

INS Sharada, which came to the aid of the pirate-threatened Liberian ship in the Gulf of Aden on May 17, is an offshore patrol vessel of the Sukanya class designed to protect India’s exclusive economic zone. Though lightly armed, the class can be upgraded to light frigates with the addition of heavier armament. INS Subhadra and INS Suvarna have been used as proving vessels for the Dhanush ship-based ballistic missile including the stabilisation platform for launching in rough weather.

(Please write in with your narratives of war and military life to msbajwa@gmail.com or call/WhatsApp on 093161-35343)

First Published: May 21, 2017 14:22 IST