Marshal Singh passes away at 98
War hero is the only officer of the IAF to be promoted to five-star rank
War hero Marshal Arjan Singh, who led the Indian Air Force during the 1965 India-Pakistan conflict, died last night.
IAF sources said he passed away around 7.30pm (IST).
Ninety-eight-year-old Singh, the only officer of the IAF to be promoted to five-star rank, equal to a Field Marshal in the Army, was admitted to the Army’s Research and Referral hospital on Saturday morning after he suffered a cardiac arrest, the defence ministry said.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and the three Service chiefs — Gen. Bipin Rawat, Admiral Sunil Lanba and Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa — visited Singh at the hospital.
Modi mourned the death of Marshal Arjan Singh and said India will never forget his excellent leadership in the 1965 India-Pakistan war when the Indian Air Force saw substantial action.
“India mourns the unfortunate demise of Marshal of the Indian Air Force Arjan Singh. We remember his outstanding service to the nation,” he tweeted.
President Ram Nath Kovind yesterday condoled the passing away of Arjan Singh, praising him for his contribution in the 1965 war.
“Marshal of the IAF Arjan Singh was a WW II hero and won our nation’s gratitude for his military leadership in the 1965 war.”
An icon in the country’s military history, Singh had led a fledgling IAF in the 1965 war when he was just a 44-year-old.
As Pakistan launched its Operation Grand Slam with an armoured thrust targeted at the vital town of Akhnoor in Jammu and Kashmir, he led the IAF with courage, determination and professional skill.
The fighter pilot, who inspired the IAF despite constraints on the full-scale use of air combat power, was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian honour, in 1965.
Born on April 15, 1919 in Lyallpur in the northern Indian state of Punjab in undivided India, his father, grandfather and great grandfather had served in the cavalry.
Educated at Montgomery, British India (now in Pakistan), he had joined the RAF College, Cranwell in 1938 and was commissioned as a Pilot Officer in December the following year.