HT Ludhiana Live
The hero of first Kargil battle
(CO), Lt Col Sudarshan Singh, after some persuasion. After the usual recce and preparation on May 15-16, 1965, the troops started the arduous climb up to the staging points for the assaults at 1900 hours (7pm) on May 16.
Reaching the FUP (Forming Up Place where troops organise into assault formations for an attack) around 2am on May 17, the Bravo Company immediately launched the assault, Capt Kang leading with his platoon. The enemy (a platoon plus of the Karakoram Scouts, now regularised as the Northern Light Infantry) fired from their positions 300 metres away on top of a steep slope. A combination of the heavy enemy fire, fatigue from the gruelling climb and the cold (the FUP was covered in snow, making the Rajputs in their OG (olive green) uniforms easy to pick out) made the attack falter a bit. Here the leadership and courage of the company commander, Major Baljit Singh Randhawa from Isapur (Amritsar), came into play.
Snatching a light machine gun, he leapt forward, exhorting his troops to capture the enemy post. The Bravo Company surged forward and achieved its objective. Major Randhawa (30) was killed, taking a full burst of a Pakistani JCO’s carbine while clearing a bunker. He was posthumously awarded a richly deserved MVC (Maha Vir Chakra). Capt Ranbir Kang, who was wounded, was awarded the Vir Chakra. Alfa Company was shot into Black Rocks MAJOR RANDHAWA TOOK A FULL BURST OF A PAK JCO’S CARBINE WHILE CLEARING A BUNKER. HE WAS AWARDED A RICHLY DESERVED MAHA VIR CHAKRA POSTHUMOUSLY by fire support from the 4.2-inch mortars of the writer’s father, Maj Gen KS Bajwa’s unit, 85 Light Regiment.
This small battle’s significance lies in the fact that for the first time, India shed its attitude of passivity in the face of an aggressive enemy and resorted to belligerence, a refreshing change of attitude which paid rich dividends when faced with the test of reacting to Pakistani moves in East Pakistan in 1971.
The Indian army’s morale soared considerably after this victorious episode, which again helped curb Pakistan’s aggressive designs a few months down the line. For 4 Rajput, it was another chapter in their continuing saga of glory. The Punjab government named a road in Amritsar in memory of Major Randhawa.
Col Ranbir Kang ( retd) lives in Mohali. He is currently working on the history of his family’s martial glories. His father, late Brigadier Sukhdev Singh, won the Military Cross in Burma and the Vir Chakra in the First Kashmir War (1947-48) while serving with and later commanding 1st Patiala Rajindra Sikhs. The spirit of the handsome, gallant Major Randhawa continues to guide Bravo Company, 4 Rajput, in all their endeavours.
Lt Gen Sanjiv Chachra has taken over as the new General Officer Commanding-in- Chief (GOC-in- C), Western Command. Commissioned in June 1974 via the NDA/IMA route, he is a second-generation Rajput Regiment officer. His father, who retired as a Major, served with 17 and 20 Rajput (the old Jodhpur Sardar Infantry, now 24 Mech).
Commissioned in 17 Rajput, he commanded the regiment’s 16th Battalion in counter-insurgency operations in the North-East and was awarded the Vishisht Seva Medal ( VSM). As a Lieutenant General, he commanded X Corps, which defends the semidesert area in Southern Punjab and North-West Rajasthan and was later Military Secretary at Army HQ dealing with postings, promotions and careers of officers. On June 24, he was welcomed to the tricity by the Rajput Regiment, of which he is the colonel, through their local association. A gala dinner was organised at a hotel; it was attended by a host of serving and retired officers of the regiment and its associated units like 4 Guards (formerly 1st Rajput) and 13 Mech (formerly 18 Rajput).
Raised on May 15, 1940, the 2nd Field Regiment boasts of two honour titles, those of Point 171 and Letse (honour titles are the artillery’s equivalent of the infantry, cavalry and engineers’ battle honours). Raised with South Indian, Maratha and Sikh batteries, it became a 100% Sikh unit in line with the post-World War 2 decision of the artillery to have only one-class units. Becoming an SP (self-propelled) Regiment in 1946, it has seen a wealth of new equipment over the years. Unlike most Indian entities, the regiment has been well served by a first-class, detailed history of the unit written by its former CO, Lt Gen Anjan Mukherjee, currently the professional head of the artillery as its director general. Later, Gen Mukherjee wrote ‘The God of War – History of the Regiment of Artillery 1966-1999’, a mammoth, well-written book on the arm which has the maximum number of people in the army sporting its cap-badge. The regiment can boast of having produced a large number of senior officers. Truly have all ranks lived up to their regimental motto, ‘Har Maidan Fateh’.
The writer is a Chandigarh-based chronicler of military matters. Share your feedback, suggestions and news at 09316135343 or email at