Chamba’s braveheart— Sardar Singh

Sepoy Sardar Singh was awarded Vir Chakra for his conspicuous gallantry in 1991

Col Dilbag Dabas (Retd)

The military history of Himachal starts with the history of the 131-year-old Dogra Regiment. In all wars, pre or post independence, the gallant Dogras of Himachal have proved their mettle and made the tiny state proud by adding to the tally of gallantry award winners from the state. Sardar Singh is one such son of the soil nurtured by Himachal, which is rightly referred to as the nursery of military bravehearts.

Sardar Singh, son of Dharam Singh, was born on August 10, 1964, at Hatthian village in Chamba district. Hatthian is popularly known as a Dogra village since the youth from the village traditionally chose the Dogra Regiment and continue to do so and with pride. Following the tradition, Sardar Singh also got himself enrolled in the Dogra Regiment on October 26, 1983, and was allotted the 2nd Dogra Battalion.

India and Pakistan have fought intermittently since 1984 at Siachen Glacier, where not a single blade of grass grows, yet it remains the highest battle ground on earth. And not without reason, as the strategic importance of the glacier can never be over-emphasised. The Indian Army occupies almost all dominating heights on the Saltoro Ridge, west of Siachen Glacier. To maintain the hold and also to dominate the tactically important features north and west of the ridge, the Indian Army has been launching operations in the region since 1984 at the time and place of its choosing. Operation Meghdoot in April 1984, Operation Rajiv in July 1987 and Operation IBEX in April 1989 are some of the decisive operations successfully launched by the Indian Army since 1984. The 2nd Dogra Battalion was part of 'Operation IBEX' and during one fierce skirmish in the operation, with the enemy superior in numbers, Sepoy Sardar Singh of 2nd Dogra, almost singlehandedly thwarted the enemy's assault and earned for himself the coveted Vir Chakra.

On the night of April 30, 1989, Sepoy Sardar Singh was part of a detachment guarding the feature called bump from south western approach. Before the enemy launched an attack on the bump, after having been relieved by Lance Naik Prem Singh, he had just returned to his snow tent, taken off his boots and was warming himself near a small stove. On hearing the sentry Lance Naik Prem Singh's alarm, he quickly picked up his weapon and rushed out barefoot, into the snow and ice, to his post.

Instantaneously, he saw almost section strength of the enemy soldiers barely 20 yards away crouching and firing at the sentry. He immediately opened fire at the attacking party and calmly picked off three of the enemy soldiers. 

In the fire fight, sentry Lance Naik Prem Singh got injured and fell. Sepoy Sardar Singh, with total disregard to personal safety, crawled through the hail of bullets and evacuated sentry Lance Naik Prem Singh to  a nearby snow tent. 

Sepoy Sardar Singh removed the magazine from the sentry's rifle, put it in his pouch and came out again to face the enemy. He crawled to an advantageous position and engaged the enemy with accurate fire. During the cross fire, Sepoy Sardar Singh was hit by a bullet in the shoulder, but despite the wound, barefoot and in that biting cold, he continued to engage the enemy singlehandedly and kept the attackers at bay till the neighbouring platoon personal joined in the fight. After having been outnumbered, the enemy retreated leaving behind its dead and wounded. Undoubtedly, Sepoy Sardar Singh was instrumental in breaking up the enemy's attack on tactically important bump feature that night.

For his raw courage, determination and conspicuous gallantry in the face of a superior enemy, Sepoy Sardar Singh was awarded the Vir Chakra.

For Himachali youth, military has not just been another profession, but a way of life, an honourable life. And Sardar Singh and all other brave-hearts whet the appetite of young Himachalis to follow into their footsteps. 

The battle account of his bravery reads...

“On the night of April 30, 1989, Sepoy Sardar Singh was part of a detachment guarding the feature called bump from south western approach. Before the enemy launched an attack on the bump, after having been relieved by Lance Naik Prem Singh, he had just returned to his snow tent, taken off his boots and was warming himself near a small stove. On hearing the sentry Lance Naik Prem Singh's alarm, he quickly picked up his weapon and rushed out barefoot, into the snow and ice, to his post. Instantaneously, he saw almost section strength of the enemy soldiers barely 20 yards away crouching and firing at the sentry. He immediately opened fire at the attacking party and calmly picked off three of the enemy soldiers. In the fire fight, the sentry Lance Naik Prem Singh got injured and fell. Sepoy Sardar Singh, with total disregard to personal safety, crawled through the hail of bullets and evacuated the sentry to the nearby snow tent. Sepoy Sardar Singh removed the magazine from the sentry's rifle, put it in his pouch and came out again to face the enemy. He crawled to an advantageous position and engaged the enemy with accurate fire. During the cross fire, Sepoy Sardar Singh was hit by a bullet in the shoulder, but despite the wound, barefoot and in that biting cold, he continued to engage the enemy singlehandedly and kept the attackers at bay till the neighbouring platoon personal joined in the fight. After having been outnumbered, the enemy retreated leaving behind its dead and wounded. Undoubtedly, Sepoy Sardar Singh was instrumental in breaking up the enemy's attack on tactically important bump feature that night.”

(The writer is a veteran Gunner, 6 Field Regiment)

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