Havildar Major Piru SinghParamVir Chakra
Following tensions between the newly independent nations of India and Pakistan, war broke out over control of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir in October 1947, shortly after Singh returned from Japan. In July 1948, Pakistan launched offensive strikes in the Tithwal sector of Jammu and Kashmir, and captured a ring contour on 8 July. This forced the Indian troops stationed in the forward positions across river Kishanganga to retreat. In an attempt to reverse the situation, Singh’s unit, the 6th Battalion of the Rajputana Rifles, was moved from Uri to Tithwal, and was assigned to the 163rd Brigade. The troops took position on the Tithwalbridge.
On 11 July, the Indian troops commenced their attack. These strikes continued for another four days. But reports regarding the situation suggested that the Pakistanis were still in command of a strategically important position and the Indian commanders decided that these had to be captured before the advance could continue. Apart from this position, another position was also to be captured by the Indians. The task of capturing these two positions was assigned to the 6th Rajputana Rifles. Two companies were assigned to the operation, with the battalion’s ‘C’ Company securing the second position after the first was captured by ‘D’ Company.
On 18 July, the ‘D’ Company launched its first attack at 01:30. The path to the position held by the Pakistani troops was just 1 metre (3 ft 3 in) wide, and deep ravines lay on either side. This narrow path was overlooked by hidden Pakistani bunkers that allowed both observation and clear fields of fire for the defending troops. As they advanced, the Indian company was subjected to heavy shelling from the Pakistanis, and within half an hour the company had recorded fifty-one casualties.
During the battle, Singh’s section, leading the company, was sheared down to half strength due to heavy casualties. Singh rushed towards a Pakistani medium machine gun post, which was causing most of the casualties, during which he suffered multiple shrapnel wounds across his body as the Pakistani defenders began rolling grenades down from the heights. Undeterred, Singh continued to advance adopting the battle cry, “Raja Ramchandra Ki Jai”. Soon he occupied the post killing the men on guard with his bayonet and Sten gun.
But by the time he captured the position, the rest of his company lay dead or wounded. Singh was left alone to achieve the objective assigned. He advanced towards the second Pakistani medium machine gun post. At this juncture, he was almost blinded by a grenade that blast at his face. His Sten gun ammunition had run out. Singh moved out of the trench and lobbed grenades at the next Pakistani post. Meanwhile, he jumped into another trench, and killed two Pakistani soldiers with his bayonet. Before he was able to move out of the trench, he was hit by a bullet in his head. As he succumbed to his wounds, Singh hurled a grenade into a nearby Pakistani trench.
On 17 July 1948, Company Havildar MajorPiru Singh was posthumously was awarded the India’s highest military decoration, the ParamVir Chakra. The citation reads of follows.
BHARATH MATHAA KI JAI