Mar­shal Singh passes away at 98

War hero is the only of­fi­cer of the IAF to be pro­moted to five-star rank

Gulf News - - India -

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.

PTI

Ar­jan Singh

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