Army commemorating war hero Lt Gen Sagat Singh’s birth centenary


JAIPUR: Indian army is holding a series of events in Rajasthan to commemorate the birth centenary of legendary war veteran Lieutenant General Sagat Singh, notable for his pivotal role in liberation of Goa from Portugese rule and later liberation of Bangladesh.

A three-star General in the Indian Army, Singh was born in Kusumdesar (Moda) village in Churu district on July 14 1919.

“The celebrations have started under the aegis of South-Western command from July 8 with motivational lectures in schools at Jaipur and other parts of the state,” defence spokesperson Col Sombit Ghosh said.

The events will also include unveiling of the General’s bust and dedicating the sports stadium at Jodhpur Military Station in his honour and a seminar on his legacy on July 16 and 17 at Jodhpur, he said.

The seminar will feature speakers from Indian Army and academia, as well as from his immediate family, who will dwell on the leadership, personality attributes and first hand operational accounts of Lieutenant General Sagat Singh, Ghosh said.

Chief minister Ashok Gehlot is scheduled to unveil the epitaph of Singh in Jaipur on July 13.

Singh had commanded the elite 50 Parachute Brigade in 1961 when he was singularly instrumental in the liberation of Goa from Portuguese rule.

While commanding a Mountain Division in Sikkim in 1967, the general was instrumental in giving a strong fight to the Chinese at Nathu La, which lies on the old silk route between Tibet and India, where he held on to the watershed against all odds.

He is also attributed with the quelling of the Mizo insurgency.

In December 1971, Singh, in a bold and audacious maneuver outflank and surprise the Pakistani Army at Dacca which led to the unconditional surrender of over 98,000 Pakistani soldiers.

“For this inspirational leadership as a Military Commander in war, the Nation bestowed him with the Padma Bhushan,” Ghosh said.

Singh was also present at the time of signing of the surrender instrument by then General Niazi of Pakistan Army.

During the 1962 Sino-Indian war, Nathu La witnessed skirmishes between soldiers of the two countries. Shortly thereafter, the pass was sealed and was closed for trade.  In order to help Pakistan during the 1965 War, the Chinese served an ultimatum and demanded that India withdraw her posts at Nathu La and Jelep La.

Sagat Singh, who was GOC 17 Mountain Division and on the rank of Major General, refused to vacate Nathu La reasoning that Nathu La and Jelep La were passes on the watershed, which was the natural boundary.

The McMahon Line, which India claimed as the International Border, followed the watershed principle, and India and China had gone to war over this issue, three years earlier.

Vacating the passes on the watershed would give the Chinese the tactical advantage of observation and fire into India while denying the same to the Indian troops.

In response, the Chinese through loudspeakers warned the Indian troops, they made threatening postures. Throughout 1966 and early 1967, Chinese propaganda, intimidation and attempted incursions into the Indian territory continued.

On Sep 11, 1967, the Chinese opened fire, causing several casualties among the Indian troops working on the wire fence. The Indian Army also retaliated causing greater damage on Chinese. The clash came to end with Nathu La intact with India.

Chinese wanted to intimidate Sagat singh and annex Nathu La, however Singh never got perturbed and stood his ground. As a result the myth of chinese invincibility was broken and Nathu La remains in Indian possession. (AGENCIES)


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