In the annals of history of India, Colonel (Retd) Hoshiar Singh is a legend. He was awarded India’s highest military honor, the Param Vir Chakra and earned a great name for himself in the glorious history of the Indian Armed Forces. He played a crucial role in the 1971 war with Pakistan and successfully repulsed the enemy’s frontal attack resulting in the capture of an enemy post.
On December 15, 1971, Col Hoshiar Singh, then a major, was commanding the left forward company of the Grenadiers across the Basantar river in Shakergarh section, adjoining the border areas of Pathankot. He was ordered to capture the enemy locality at Jarpal (Punjab province of Pakistan). Undeterred by the intense shelling and effective crossfire from enemy machine guns, he led the charge and captured the objective after a fierce hand to hand fight. The enemy reacted and put in three counter-attacks the next day; two of these were supported by armor. Major Hoshiar Singh, unmindful of the heavy shelling and tank fire and in utter disregard of his personal safety, went from trench to trench motivating and encouraging his men to stand fast and fight. The enemy attack was successfully repulsed and the enemy retreated leaving behind 85 dead bodies, including those of their commanding officer – Lieutenant-Colonel Mohammed Akram Raja, and three other officers. Though seriously wounded, Hoshiar Singh refused to be evacuated till the ceasefire. Throughout this operation, he displayed most conspicuous, indomitable fighting spirit and leadership in the highest tradition of the Indian army. The greatest secret of his remarkable success has been a close personal rapport with his men. He grew with his company in the same battalion for a long period which helped him cement the ties with his men.
This gallant hero of India was born on 5th May 1936 in Sisana village of district Sonipat, Haryana. The village, about 25 kilometers from Sonipat on Rohtak road, is fairly large with predominantly Jat population. It has contributed more than 250 soldiers to the Indian army. Colonel Hoshiar Singh’s father was a respectable farmer and his mother Mathuri Devi, a kind-hearted housewife. He got married to Dhanno when he was studying in 7th class. This illustrious couple had three sons. After his schooling and one year’s study at the Jat College, Rohtak, he joined the Indian Army as a soldier. He was commissioned as an officer in the Grenadiers Regiment on 30 June 1963. His first assignment as an officer was in NEFA (North East Frontier Agency). There, he took many grave risks of life while negotiating in the most inhospitable jungles and mountains. These personal risks made him the unquestioned leader of his men who were prepared to die at his call. In the 1965 Indo-Pak war, he saw some action in the Rajasthan sector. Whatever his post, he served the Indian army with courage, devotion, and distinction. He was of the view that peace time training is the crux of performance in the battle. Officers, according to him, should take the personal interest and fully involve themselves in this training which besides equipping them fully for any war- like an emergency, also develops in them a sense of self-confidence and capacity to command men and material. This generates implicit faith in the commander and his men would never desert him in time of stress and strain. The physical presence of the officer in the midst of war maintains the morale of the soldiers and keeps them fighting fit.
Hoshiar Singh was promoted to the rank of colonel before he retired from the Indian Army. On 6th December 1998 Colonel (retd) Hoshiar Singh passed away. He left an ever inspiring saga of courage and valour for the youngsters of the country.
Taken from HARYANA REVIEW, JUNE 2010
Written by – Nishant Prabhakar