Hon'ble Pres­i­dent of In­dia, Shri Ram Nath Kovind

1913-1999

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Lt Gen Har­bakhsh Singh was one of In­dia’s most out­stand­ing com­man­ders. Born in 1913 at Badrukhan, Pun­jab, he grad­u­ated from Govern­ment Col­lege, La­hore and was an alum­nus of the first course at the In­dian Mil­i­tary Acad­emy (IMA), Dehra Dun. His fa­ther Capt. Har­nam Singh was an Army doc­tor and el­der brother was Lt. Gen Gur­baksh Singh. He was one of the few of­fi­cers to have seen ac­tion as a Pla­toon Com­man­der, a Com­pany Com­man­der, a Bat­tal­ion Com­man­der, a Bri­gade Com­man­der and later as an Army Com­man­der. Har­bakhsh was at­tached to the Bri­tish Ar­gyl and Suther­land High­landers be­fore be­ing com­mis­sioned in 5 Sikh in 1935. He saw ac­tive ser­vice with the High­landers on the North­West Fron­tier. In just seven years, he rose to Com­pany Com­man­der of 5 Sikh in Malaya against the Ja­panese. Wounded in the head, he needed to have a steel plate in­serted per­ma­nently and was still in hos­pi­tal when the Al­lies sur­ren­dered Malaya and Singapore to the Ja­panese in 1942. Har­bakhsh spent the next three years in nearstar­va­tion as a prisoner of war. He was re­leased in 1945. On Novem­ber 22, 1947, he com­manded the 161 Bri­gade in the op­er­a­tion against Pak­istani-backed forces and tribes­men who at­tacked Srinagar and saved the city in a bril­liantly planned op­er­a­tion. On May 17, 1948, his bri­gade, in a light­ing move, se­cured all ter­ri­tory from Hand­wara to Kis­hanganga over the Nasta Chun Pass and Tith­wal. He com­manded 5 Di­vi­sion, 4 Corps and later 33 Corps. He fi­nally com­manded the West­ern Army Com­mand. Af­ter In­dia’s 1965 vic­tory, when In­dia was re­turn­ing Pak­istani ter­ri­tory, Har­bakhsh Singh or­dered all mosques that had been dam­aged in shelling be re­paired and re­painted. Prayers were of­fered be­fore they were handed back with full dig­nity. He was dec­o­rated with the Padma Vib­hushan. Padma Bhushan and a Vir Chakra. He passed away on Novem­ber 14, 1999 and was cre­mated with full mil­i­tary hon­ours in Delhi.

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