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Wednesday, February 27, 2019

get to know Indian History - valour of Lance Naik Karam Singh, winner of Param Vir Chakra

One should feel sad ~ for the real-life story of  Nation’s heroes have not been in School curriculam.  We read more of British history and Moghul history !! – a design by the British and later day Commies.

Decades ago, this book titled ‘Pathinaalu Naatkal’ [14 days] impressed me most…. It was a story on Indo-bangla war … the hero is Indian pilot who gets captured and falls in the hands of a Paki general who hates India…..  the air warfare was so wonderfully depicted with Sujatha touch of humanism….

The Indo – Pak war which liberated Bangladesh officially began on 3rd Dec 1971 when West Pakistan launched a series of pereemptive air strikes on Indian airfields. On 6th Dec 1971,India recognized East Pakistan as Bangladesh.  On 16th  Dec 1971 – Pak forces surrendered to India ~ Lt Genl AAK Niazi, Supreme commander of Pak Army in East Pak surrendered to Lt Gen Jagjit Singh Arora……..  The direct military conflict between India and Pak that gave rise to a new Nation –Bangladesh occurred in 1971. It is considered to be one of the shortest wars in the history.  During the course of the war, Indian and Pakistani forces clashed on the eastern and western fronts. East Pakistan officially seceded from Pakistan on 26 March 1971. Wikipedia reports that between 90,000 and 93,000 members of the Pakistan Armed Forces including paramilitary personnel were taken as Prisoners of War by the Indian Army. It is estimated that between 2,000,000 and 3,000,000 civilians were killed in Bangladesh, and hundred thousands of  women raped by the Pakistani armed forces.

Now more of our own History ~ the day when India became free – 15th Aug 1947,   the state, like Hyderabad and Junagadh, and unlike over 500 other princely states, had not acceded to either India or Pakistan. Its maharaja, Hari Singh, was reluctant to join either of the dominions and wished to keep his state independent. Threat from Pakistan was imminent.  On October 22, 1947, over 5,000 tribesmen, with weapons and transport supplied by the Pakistani Army, entered Kashmir and seized Muzaffarabad, Domel and Uri and surged towards Srinagar. Two days later, the Maharaja offered to accede to India and asked for immediate military assistance. VP Menon, secretary in the ministry of states, flew to Jammu and got the instrument of accession signed by the maharaja on Oct 26.

Operation J&K commenced at first light on the morning of Oct 27. One after another more than a hundred planes, both civilian (BOAC) and military (RIAF), flew out of Safdarjung Airport, ferrying weapons, rations and troops of the Sikh regiment led by Lt Col Ranjit Rai who was one of the first soldiers to sacrifice his life, but not before his unit had succeeded in establishing a bridgehead on the Baramula-Srinagar road which halted the invasion and saved Srinagar.

On hearing that Indian troops had landed in Srinagar Pakistani governor general Mohammad Ali Jinnah ordered General Douglas Gracy, acting chief of the Pakistan Army (both India and Pakistan had British officers in top echelons) to move his troops into Kashmir on the Rawalpindi-Srinagar road towards the Banihal pass and cut off Kashmir from Jammu and the rest of India.  Mountbatten and his chief of staff, General Hastings Ismay, flew to Lahore on November 1. They spent over three hours with Jinnah discussing Junagadh, Hyderabad, and Kashmir. When Mountbatten suggested impartial plebiscites the Quaid-e-Azam spurned the proposal.

On November 8, Nehru wrote to his Pakistani counterpart, Liaquat Ali, enumerating India's proposals: Pakistan should publicly compel the raiders to withdraw; India would withdraw its troops as soon as the raiders withdrew and law and order was restored; both governments should make a joint request to the UN to hold a plebiscite at the earliest. By mid-November Indian forces had retaken Uri and secured the Valley.  Jhangar was captured in March 1948 and Rajouri taken next. By early March the threat to the lines of communication from Jammu to Naushera was neutralized. Having fully secured Ladakh and Rajouri Poonch, India accepted ceasefire for which international pressure had been building up and could not be resisted any longer. The guns fell silent on the last night of 1948 and ceasefire became effective from January 1, 1949.

India agreed to a plebiscite subject to certain very specific conditions, the most important of which was that Pakistan should withdraw all its troops and vacate the entire territory of the former princely state of Jammu & Kashmir. This Pakistan refused to do and still refuses to do.  Yet some fools, who have not read History would write on social media that India has not so far conducted referendum in Kashmir.

On 13 Oct 1948, when the Pakistani attackers tried to recapture the Richhmar Gali of the South and Nastachur Pass of the East of Tithwal respectively and they planned to re-attack and capture the Richmar Gali. Lance Naik Karam Singh at that time was commanding the section of Richmar Gali. The fight began with an initial attack of howitzers and guns. All the bunkers were destroyed by heavy firing from the enemy’s side. All the communication links and lines got damaged and there were no ways for Karam Singh to communicate with the commander, in order to ask for any assistance and updating the situation. But Lance Naik Karam Singh did not give up his high morale and went bunker to bunker to give aid to the wounded crew men, he was himself badly injured, but he showed the attitude of a lion and rescued two injured comrades and brought them back to the main company position.

The enemy got to grab its positions near the Frontline but Karam Singh was completely fearless stepped forward in front of the enemy and bayoneted the invader to death. Singh overpowered the enemy so much that the enemy became clueless and they finally decided to set back. The battle of Tithwal would always be remembered for the great actions of Lance Naik Karam Singh; his daring spirit had been commendable that made him a true deserver of the Param Vir Chakra.

Subedar and Honorary Captain Karam Singh PVC, MM (1915 – 1993) became the first living recipient of the Param Vir Chakra (PVC), India's highest award for gallantry. Singh joined the army in 1941, and took part in the Burma Campaign of World War II, receiving the Military Medal for his actions during the Battle of the Admin Box in 1944. He also fought in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947, and was awarded the PVC for his role in saving a forward post at Richhmar Gali, south of Tithwal. He was also one of the five soldiers chosen to raise the Indian flag for the first time after independence in 1947.

We did not study the Battle of Tithwal of 1948 and sadly, Indians do not know much about their hero Param Vir Chakra awardee Capt Karam Singh.  As the battle at Tithwal continued for months, the Pakistanis grew desperate and launched a massive attack trying to  capture the Richhmar Gali, located south of Tithwal, and the Nastachur Pass, east of Tithwal.  Although outnumbered ten-to-one by the Pakistani troops, the Sikhs repelled their attacks multiple times. Under the heavy Pakistani fire, Singh moved from position to position, boosting the morale of his men and intermittently throwing grenades. Despite being wounded twice, he refused evacuation and continued to hold the first line of trenches.  Singh’s valour is exceptional and commendable. 

In the 1980s, the Shipping Corporation of India (SCI),   named fifteen of its crude oil tankers in honour of the PVC recipients. The tanker MT Lance Naik Karam Singh, PVC was delivered to SCI on 30 July 1984, and served for 25 years before being phased out. The government also built a memorial in his honour at the District Administrative Complex in Sangrur.

Jai Jawan ! long live our soldiers ~ mera Bharat mahan hai !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
27th Feb 2019.

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