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Tuesday, August 29, 2006


I don't remember much of my Nanaji (maternal grandfather), though his memory is kept alive through his portrait, his sword of honour, his medals and his photographs with Indira Gandhi. All of these adorn my Naniji's (grandmother) house in Chandigarh.

There is also a book 'Bravest of the Brave' that captures his war exploits and they are truly worth writing about.

On my annual vacation, I spent a lot of time looking at the serene portrait, wondering how this calm looking man was the one leading his troops to war, to victory. Some of his heroics were written about in the book on India's war heroes and each time after looking at his photographs and portrait, I would flip the pages of this book to re-live some of the moments that re-wrote so many things in the time of war.

My Nanaji, Brigadier Sampuran Singh, some of his friends in arms tell me was destined for greater things, but a cruel twist of fate cut short his life. I was less than two years old when he died of heart complications, to me he remains a picture perfect memory who did all these brave things:

During the Indo-Pak conflict of 1965, then Lt Col Sampuran Singh was commander of the 19 Punjab battalion. To advance to the Haji Pir Pass it was essential for our troops to capture a tactical feature held by two Pakistani companies. Two attempts to capture it had failed.

On 28th August, a battalion of Punjab Regiment, which had been ordered to capture the feature, was pinned down by heavy enemy fire. At this crucial moment Lt Col Sampuran Singh, who was commanding the battalion, personally led his men in an attack on the objective with courage and determination. In total disregard of his personal safety, he advanced with his men against intense enemy fire and captured Bedori.

In this operation, Lt Col Sampuran Singh displayed courage and leadership of a high order. This earned him the Vir Chakra (VrC).

After the capture of Haji Pir Pass, it became necessary to secure the road to Kahuta. When, due to heavy enemy opposition, the task became very difficult, Lt Col Sampuran Singh was detailed to secure a strategic ridge which linked up that position with the forward position of an infantry brigade. He immediately pushed forward with his men, charged the enemy and captured the ridge, thus establishing the link. Disregarding his own safety, he moved forward and in three successive attacks pushed the enemy back.

Throughout, Lt Col Sampuran Singh displayed exemplary courage and leadership of a high order for which he was awarded the Maha Vir Chakra (MVC).