Place of Death: Jammu & Kashmir
Service / Branch: Indian Army
Years of Service: 1992 – 1999
Unit: 18 Grenadiers
Major Harminder Pal Singh proved to be a true follower of Sikh gurus, when in a heroic act he laid down his life for the defence of his motherland on the very day the nation was celebrating tercentenary celebrations of the founding of Khalsa. He hailed from Ropar, in the vicinity of which Anandpur Sahib is located.
In very few armies of the world, it is the officers who lead even minor operations. Indian army is one such army. In the expanding counter-insurgency operations, there is not much disparity in the casualties suffered by the officers and the ranks. Our army officers inspire ranks by personal heroism. While the country’s politicians have been messing up the problem connected with security and squandering the initiatives gained through the valour of our security forces, the men-in-uniform have been delivering successful blow to the enemy.
In a daredevil operation in a congested locality of Sadar kootballa village in the vicinity of Manasbal area of Kashmir valley, Major HP Singh was leading the commando platoon of his battalion. He was an officer who ate with his men and played cards with them. He boosted the morale of his soldiers by leading always from the front, when ever situation warrantted.
On the morning of April 13, Major HP Singh received information about the presence of four Hizb-ul-Mujahideen terrorists hiding in the locality of Sader koot bala. He started with his 32 men and surrounded 12 houses ataround1 PM in the Khan Mohalla. In the low visibility that prevailed due to an intense dust-storm earlier, Major Singh was the first to enter the houses. The operation was difficult as the soldiers had to expose themselves in the built-up area to prevent any collateral damage to civilians or their property. A search of five houses revealed no militants.
Commandos then approached the next set of houses through an alley. Terrorists hiding in these houses opened fire with automatic weapons through a window in ground floor, from a close range. The bullets struck Major HP Singh in the left arm. He fell down but quickly regained his composure and took cover behind a rock. Major shot a militant through the head, when he sneaked through a window on the second floor of the house. The terrorist came tumbling down.
Undeterred by his injury, Major Singh went after the other kill. He managed to lob a grenade through the ground-floor window and followed it, up with a burst from his automatic rifle. Major’s next task was to cut off the escape route of the third militant. Unfortunately, Major Singh’s bullet-proof helmet slipped off. The surviving militant shot him dead with a bullet that pierced through his temple. In a befitting tribute to this sant-sipahi (saint soldier),
Lt Gen Krishan Pal, Commander 15 Coprs, said ‘Maj Singh’s action is significant on this occasion of the tercentenary celebrations. He upheld the spirit of Guru Gobind Singh and rose to fight evil’. Punjab government has announced that it will grant a job to his wife and build a suitable memorial in his honour. But Major Singh did not die for Punjab alone. He died for the entire nation.