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The Man Who Saved India:
He Led The Sikh Regiment To A Complete Rout Of The Enemy





Some war images stick permanently in the mind and that of Lt Gen Harbakhsh Singh, the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Command, India, standing atop the Haji Pir Pass after its capture by India during the 1965 War with Pakistan, is one of them.

However, this was not the only major achievement under the leadership of Gen Harbakhsh Singh.

All the raiding columns of Pakistan’s Gibraltar Force were rounded up by the army. Pakistan’s Operation Grand Slam was checkmated in the Chhamb-Akhnoor sector, though with some loss of territory. An Indian Division was knocking on the gates of Lahore within hours of the three-pronged offensive being launched across the international boundary.

And, in the battle of Assal Uttar, which some quip means ‘real answer’, the famed M-47 Patton tanks of a Pakistani armoured division were stopped in their tracks by a handful of infantrymen and a single Indian Cavalry regiment armed with Centurion tanks of World War II vintage. The skeletal remains of the burnt out shells of the Pattons still dot the landscape around the village.

Gen Harbakhsh Singh, a soldiers’ general, had immense battlefield experience. He had seen action in the North West Frontier Province, been seriously wounded fighting the Japanese in Malaya during World War II, had fought the battle of Shelatang and saved Srinagar from the Pakistani marauders in 1947 and had then gone on to plan and supervise the re-capture of Tithwal from the Pakistan army.

During the 1962 war with China, Gen Harbakhsh was flown post-haste to Tezpur to take over command of 4 Corps when Lt Gen B. M. Kaul had ‘fallen sick’ after the rout at Namka Chu and had been ‘summoned’ to Delhi.

Harbakhsh inspired confidence in the defeated soldiers and commanders and began to once again re-build their morale. He had barely settled down and was busy re-organising the defences in NEFA to thwart further Chinese attacks when, inexplicably, Kaul returned to re-claim his Corps … once the war was over.

Gen Harbakhsh was side- stepped to take over 33 Corps at Bagdogra. Kaul’s was a political appointment -- he was a close relative of the then Prime Minister Nehru -- and, as should have been expected, he once again led 4 Corps to suffer yet another defeat.

The 1965 War with Pakistan saw Gen Harbakhsh achieve still more professional success.

As the Western Army Commander he was responsible for operations in J&K as well as Punjab since there was no Northern Command at that time. Bold and daring in his approach, he did not hesitate to take calculated risks and this is where he fell out with his Chief.

The real truth about whether Gen J. N. Chaudhary, the Chief of the Army Staff, actually ordered Harbakhsh to pull back to the Beas River after receiving exaggerated reports of the progress made by a Pakistani armoured column in the Khem Karan (Amritsar-Firozpur) sector may never be known. Alarmist reports are not uncommon in the fog of war. A good military commander learns to distinguish the truth from fiction by visiting the battlefield and acquainting himself first hand with the prevailing situation.

In his book “In the Line of Duty: A Soldier Remembers”, Gen Harbakhsh has written: “Late at night on the 9th of September, the Chief of the Army Staff rang me up … his advice was that to save the whole army from being cut-off by Pakistan’s armour push, I should pull back to the line of the Beas river.”

Pulling back to the Beas would have meant sacrificing prime territory in Punjab including Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts and would have been a far worse defeat than that suffered at the hands of the Chinese in 1962. The move would have also resulted in bidding goodbye to the entire state of J&K and the army’s 15 Corps that had performed extremely well over there.”

This has been corroborated by Capt Amarinder Singh, ADC to Gen Harbakhsh Singh, who received the Army Chief’s phone call.

He has written: “At 2.30 a.m. the Army Chief, General J. N. Chaudhury, called and spoke to the General and after a heated discussion centred around the major threat that had developed, the Chief ordered the Army Commander to withdraw 11 Corps to hold a line on the Beas river. General Harbakhsh Singh refused to carry out this order.”

Writing on the 1965 War, Maj Gen D. K. Palit has confirmed that such an order was, in fact, issued by the COAS but “… Harbakhsh was adamant and refused to comply. He told Chaudhury that he would not accept a verbal order on such a crucial issue … A written order from the Army Chief never came. In any case the crisis was overcome when under Harbakhsh’s leadership the outgunned Centurions … and 106 mm guns … played havoc with Pakistani Patton tanks in one of the great tactical victories of the war.”

[The Indian positions across the entire war-front were almost totally manned by Sikh soldiers, specifically chosen to replace the withdrawn troops with the express task of turning around Chaudhury’s debacle and saving the situation.]

Well-known analyst K Subrahmanyam has written that Gen J N Chaudhury had sought Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri’s permission to withdraw to the Beas but that Shastri said no.

Columnist Inder Malhotra has written that Gen Chaudhury “panicked and ordered Harbaksh to withdraw his troops behind Beas, and the latter refused.”

However, some other lesser participants in the war [under pressure from their superiors], have expressed disagreement with this version. Among them is Lt Gen Joginder Singh, Gen Harbakhsh’s Chief of Staff. In his book “Behind the Scenes”, Gen Joginder, whose relations with his boss were strained, has said no such order was given by the army Chief. In an article in the Indian Defence Review, Lt Gen Harwant Singh has echoed a similar sentiment. He disparages the accounts of Subrahmanyam and Malhotra through deductive analysis.

Clearly, something transpired on the night of 9 September 1965, between the Chief and his Army Commander.

Lt Gen Harbakhsh Singh was a straight talking, no-nonsense, professional soldier of the Sikh Regiment. He was quick to give credit wherever it was due but brooked no interference with his command and himself gave his undivided loyalty and full support to his subordinates. When the situation so demanded, he had no hesitation in sacking unworthy commanders.

Maj Gen Niranjan Prasad, who had also acquitted himself badly while commanding a division in NEFA against the Chinese, was asked to hand over charge of the Amritsar division for conduct unbecoming of that of a General during war.

Maj Gen Chopra was removed from command for not ensuring that the guns of a field regiment were brought back safely during an organised withdrawal in the Akhnoor sector. Sacking inept commanders in war is a necessary evil as it invariably helps to stem the rot.

Gen Harbakhsh unhesitatingly acknowledged his own mistakes, the few that there were, but did not hesitate to criticise either his subordinates or seniors. He was critical of Gen J N Chaudhury for raising 1 Corps by taking away his reserves, for not agreeing to launch the 1 Corps offensive from Gurdaspur sector towards Sialkot so that at least initially some reserves would be available on the Punjab front (a decision which the COAS must himself have regretted), for issuing direct orders to his subordinates bypassing him -- orders which Harbakhsh was frequently forced to countermand, for failing to visit the front except on three occasions and for writing citations for gallantry and national awards for his subordinates without consulting him.

Rock steady in the face of adversity, Lt Gen Harbakhsh Singh provided outstanding leadership at a critical juncture. He was a genuine national hero and was honoured with the Padma Vibhushan by a grateful nation.

The author is former Director, Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS), New Delhi, India.

[Courtesy: The Statesman. Edited for]

September 15, 2015

Conversation about this article

1: Shashank Modi (Ahmedabad, India), September 15, 2015, 8:28 AM.

Chaudhary, the then leader of India's armed forces, revealed his cowardly nature by lying and denying that he had asked Gen Harbaksh Singh to withdraw the front-line troops and let Pakistan take over a large chunk of Indian territory. Typically, the government then, to hide its own shame, refused to give Gen Harbaksh Singh the promotion to India's top soldier, which he rightly deserved, and allowed a lesser man to take over the coward Chaudhary's rank. God help us if there is another war, given what we have done to the Sikhs of this country. This time around, we're in an even worse situation -- we're now a nation of cowards!

2: Sarvjit Singh (Millis, Massachusetts, USA), September 15, 2015, 10:14 AM.

Gen Harbaksh Singh was a true soldier, he was one of the last few WWII veterans who became commanders in the newly created India. He has a stadium named after him in Delhi Cantt. I had the pleasure of living in the same residential colony where he settled after retirement. Incidentaly only few houses away from another Sikh Flying Ace from WWI - Sardar Hardit Singh Malik. In 1962 India suffered humiliation at the hands of the Chinese, and in 1965 Pakistanis were over-confident of capturing not only Kashmir but also the Indian side of Punjab. No Sikh could tolerate invaders over Amritsar. An order verbally issued by the country's Chief of the Armed Forces was rightfully ignored, and the sheer initiative and bravery of the soldiers (who were mostly Sikhs) under Harbaksh Singh's leadership saved the day. Sadly, his name is being left out these days from history books ... for the wrong reasons. If I am not mistaken, Harbaksh Singh was also very instrumental in the 1947 war over Kashmir with Pakistan, otherwise India would have lost what was left of Kashmir. As far Sikhs are concerned, the mysterious and untimely death of Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri on foreign soil - Tashkent, USSR -- and then Indira Gandhi's ascension to power and not letting Lt Gen Harbaksh Singh to become Chief -- an appointment which was agreed upon by Lal Bahadur Shastri but revoked by Indira Gandhi -- sowed the seeds of mistrust among Sikhs. I have heard that subsequently Indira Gandhi supported those Sikhs who removed their turbans, but full keshdhari Sikhs were denied roles they were qualified for. Capt Amarinder Singh's book is the best tribute to Gen Harbaksh Singh.

3: Kaala Singh (Punjab), September 15, 2015, 12:42 PM.

Relations between India and its neighbours - Pakistan and China -- are no better today then they were in the 1960s and 1970s. If another conflict happens in the future, Sikhs should not become gun-fodder again. Sikhs should sit back and relax and watch the "tamaasha" as the Pakistanis and Chinese give them a whipping. After all, that's what they did -- watching and enjoying the "show" when Sikhs were being burnt alive on the streets of India in 1984. Dealing with Pakistanis and Chinese won't be as easy for them as surrounding a family of five with a mob of 500, the latter under police protection, and then burning them alive. It will be a different ballgame ... watching a nation of cowards handle a real war.

4: Onkar Singh (New Delhi, India), September 15, 2015, 12:54 PM.

People here think they can easily outdo Pakistan on the strength of their American and Israeli supplied weaponry. N-a-a-n-h! India won't have a snowball's chance in hell. Don't forget China! And guess what? China is already grabbing several miles of Indian territory by the week, and -- no surprise here! -- this country is suddenly suffering from a serious case of constipation!

5: Col. Naresh Sehgal (Nagpur, India), September 15, 2015, 1:06 PM.

Gen Harbaksh Singh's handling of the 1965 war, if given its due, is guaranteed to place him in the golden pages of the history of modern warfare. His strategy and tactics are studied in military institutions everywhere.

6: R.S. Minhas (Millburn, New Jersey, USA), September 15, 2015, 1:21 PM.

A relative of mine who is a ship captain in the merchant navy had visited a Pakistani port city in the late eighties. My relative being visibly a Sikh, a retired Pakistani soldier who had fought in the 1965 war for Pakistan approached him and struck up a conversation in Punjabi. The Pakistani soldier kept shaking his head and saying it was 'all soft' till they ran into the Sikhs. Then it was impossible as they ran into what he described as "loha" (iron in Punjabi).

7: Kaala Singh (Punjab), September 15, 2015, 1:24 PM.

@5: Here is an interesting incident that happened in 1987. China occupied a piece of land in Arunachal Pradesh and the Indian Army launched what is called "Operation Chequerboard," planned and led by the same General Sundarji who convinced Indira Gandhi to attack the Golden Temple. India deployed a large number of troops in the area, the Chinese build-up took some time but when it happened, India quickly realized that the "Op-Chequerboard" won't be as easy as "Op-Bluestar" and, realizing that India was in for a whipping worse than 1962, Rajiv Gandhi had to run to Beijing to calm down the enraged Chinese. China still retains control of that area and has occupied much more since then.

8: Uma Shankar Srivastava (Jaipur, Rajasthan, India), September 15, 2015, 2:03 PM.

India was occupied by invaders for millennia. Things did not begin to change until Guru Gobind Singh came along and transformed a community into lions and hawks. I believe that without the strength and integrity of Sikhs, India will be marauded by scoundrels from within, invaders from the outside. In fact, the process has already begun. Gen Harbaksh Singh was not a blip ... he was representative of all that Sikhs have done for us. Modi and his gang are representative of all that can, and has gone wrong with this country ... again! No, I'm not a Congress party supporter. I am a patriotic Indian through and through, a real one, not the current caricature being touted by our politicians!

9: Kaala Singh (Punjab), September 15, 2015, 2:47 PM.

If Gen Harbaksh Singh was on the ground, Air Marshal Arjan Singh was in the air. The air campaign led by him also played a significant role in the war. It was war between Sikhs and Pakistan and not between India and Pakistan or should I say it was a fight between Muslim-Punjabis and Sikh-Punjabis. With Sikhs being out of the picture now, it would be interesting to see how the Bhaiyyas perform in the next war. Looks like they already know their capabilities and have already bought hi-tech weapons worth a 100 billion dollars in the last few years. We know that much of the money has gone into pockets and not into arms. We also know that they are good in a mob supported by the police, let's see how they perform on a real battlefield. Everybody agrees that the Sikhs saved them in the past wars. It remains to be seen if Israeli weapons operated by Bhaiyyas can save them in future conflicts. My gut feeling says they might have to import some Israelis too, to operate these weapons as they did in the Kargil war. We have already seen a ship and submarine worth a billion dollars each going up in flames -- in peace time, with no enemy in sight -- and so many Indian fighter planes falling off the sky without India even pretending to be at war.

10: Kulvinder Jit Kaur (Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada), September 15, 2015, 4:07 PM.

If ever there is a war between India and China or Pakistan, unfortunately Punjab lies in the middle, geographically. People in Punjab will get hurt no matter what. There will be no sitting back and enjoying the "show", as someone commented. We keep coming back to square one. It is this kind of discrimination as meted out to Gen. Harbaksh Singh and others that started the agitation in Punjab. All they were asking for was fair and just treatment. However, rather than resolving it, it was always misinterpreted mischievously and opposed. So the agitation kept snow balling and we have seen the results. Matters are still unresolved and getting more complicated by the day for the Sikhs as well the country. I hope someone can see the light and see to resolving the just demands rather than trying to quash them or distort them. When wounds are allowed to fester ...

11: Kaala Singh (Punjab), September 15, 2015, 5:28 PM.

@10: It should be possible to keep the Sikhs and Punjab out of the conflict. As far as China is concerned, Punjab is nowhere in the middle, in fact it is far away from the conflict zones of Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh. Any conflict with China is not likely to affect Punjab, as evidenced by 1962 and 1987. It is only when a war happens with Pakistan that Punjab might get caught in the cross-fire. The boundary in Punjab is a settled boundary with no disputes, it is only the boundary in J&K which is disputed and a conflict is most likely to happen there, which is, again, far away from Punjab. Did the Kargil conflict affect Punjab in any way? If you delve a little bit deeper in the conflicts between India and Pakistan since 1947, all of them have been short-duration and “limited" wars” and not full-blown protracted wars; they were planned to achieve a specific objective and end the conflict quickly. Any future conflict will also be a limited-war, not spread over a large geographical area. 1947 was in Kashmir, 1971 was in Bangladesh, it was only in 1965 that Punjab got caught in the middle and that too because India launched an attack on Pakistani Punjab to relieve pressure on its forces in the J&K sector. This is unlikely to happen in the future as Pakistani Punjab is very well defended now and even in 1965 they fought the Indians to a stand-still. All these countries cannot afford a full-blown war and any future conflict will be limited in nature and would end quickly and the conflict zones are far away from Punjab. So my argument does hold water, Sikhs can and should stay out of it.

12: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), September 15, 2015, 6:16 PM.

The cover photograph of General Harbaksh Singh with Sikh Officers in the background is so awesome that every gurdwara, Sikh Home and military museum should have an enlarged version. An absolutely awesome soldier!

13: Sunny Grewal (Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada), September 15, 2015, 7:27 PM.

Are you trying to tell me that Hindus were unable to defend the borders of their country? Well, that's never ever happened before, has it?

14: Arjan Singh (USA), September 15, 2015, 8:15 PM.

I own the autobiography of Lt. Gen Harbaksh Singh, aptly titled: "In the Line of Duty: A Soldier Remembers." Readers must not confuse this with the Clint Eastwood movie. This is a real soldier in the line of fire not once but many times in his life; unlike the make-believe Hollywood movie. I knew about this military leader while growing up in India and other Sikh military officers, and made a conscious decision not to join the Indian defence forces. This book is a must read for every young boy/girl not only for military history but to learn leadership skills. I choose not to spoil the fun by divulging the details of this masterpiece; but let us just say that Lt. Gen Harbaksh Singh was airlifted in the nick of time to save the present day Indian Kashmir region; else that too would have been lost to the Pakistani irregular forces. Canons were also air-lifted from Patiala (courtesy of Patiala's Sikh Royal family) to the Kashmir front to stop the irregular forces in their tracks as newly-created India lacked sufficient firepower. One has to read the first-hand account on how the Indian military leaders of the day were actually hiding, instead of leading from the front. (I am being too polite as this is a public forum.) Hence, the complete defence was left in the hands of the Sikhs! Here is the Amazon link to the book:

15: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), September 15, 2015, 8:17 PM.

In the few glittering pages of Indian History, Lt. General Harbaksh Singh's name will remain immortalized. Writing about this part of history, Sirdar Kapur Singh in 'Sikhism & Politics', published by SGPC, says: "In the Indo-Pakistan conflict of 1965, it is now known that but for the obduracy of a certain Sikh General it had almost been decided to abandon the entire Punjab west of Ambala to the invading Pakistani tanks. Just a week or ten days of occupation of the Sikh Homeland by the soldiers of Marshal Ayub Khan and not a single Sikh virgin or a single Sikh rupee or a single Sikh sacred spot would have retained its purity or dignity. And the Sikh world, its generals, barristers and psychoanalysts notwithstanding, would have been enveloped by darkness and decay for fifty years at least if not forever." In an interview, the General said very emphatically, "I had absolute confidence that I will not allow them to enter Amritsar." The contribution of the General to the nation is so great that certain concerned quarters made specific suggestions to honour General Harbaksh Singh during the forthcoming tercentenary celebrations of the Khalsa. It is no exaggeration that his contribution for this Nation and especially for the Punjab is no less than that of Banda Singh Bahadur or Hari Singh Nalwa, but that was not to be and nobody even cared to invite him for the celebrations. This morning when I rang up an Akali activist and told him about the sad demise of the general, the question was, "Who was General Harbaksh Singh?"

16: Brig Nawab Singh Heer (Ret.) (New York, USA), September 15, 2015, 10:13 PM.

A few things emerge. 1) General Harbaksh Singh was a soldier's General, and savior of India in 1965. He defied orders of his Chief at great personal risk, to save Punjab. He had guts, moral courage and wisdom of a true General. Indians/Punjabis must treat him at the level of Gen Hari Singh Nalwa and Baba Banda Singh Bahadar. His photo must be placed in gurdwaras and museums. Sikhs are still the back-bone of the Indian Army and they will fight the next wars equally well as they did in the Kargil War. We must continue our traditions of chivalrous soldiering, it will come handy one day. Pakistanis adore Sikhs for being a formidable enemy. Encourage our youngsters to join the armed forces in North America in numbers, for we are born soldiers. Guru made us so!

17: Arjan Singh (USA), September 15, 2015, 11:39 PM.

#15. S. Sangat Singh ji: Inspite of the neglect of the so-called Akali leaders and the SGPC, I did my own painstaking research and found out about Lt. Gen Harbaksh Singh and read his life story and service to the Sikh nation. I say ‘painstaking’ as I belong to the younger generation who was never taught in the Indian school system or in the modern Punjab (post-1975) about achievers like this General. It takes a laser-like focus and tremendous research skills to keep the memories of such leaders alive. The silver lining is that Sikh history has not been created by an elite group or coterie of leaders. Instead, the Sikh way of life is democratic and real power lies in the hands of each person and each family. It would be a waste of time and foolhardy to expect that an Akali activist or SGPC headquarters would know about Lt. Gen Harbaksh Singh. My humble suggestion is to buy a few copies of his autobiography and keep them at your local gurdwara and discuss his life with the children at the gurdwara or at a local event so that even Malaysians can learn how leadership is done. Real power lies in your hands, not at some central organization.

18: Kaala Singh (Punjab), September 16, 2015, 1:56 AM.

@16: I would like to know your expert opinion on a subject that I am deeply interested in -- Has India ever won a war since its creation in 1947? In my opinion, the answer is NO -- they have never won a war. 1) 1947 — India claims whole of Kashmir but Pakistan takes away half of it and whatever is left with India is due to the efforts of the Sikh troops of the Sikh kingdom of Patiala. 2) 1962 -- Beaten to a pulp by the Chinese. The Chinese stopped further advance only after the US makes threatening noises. 3) 1965 -- It was a draw with no clear victory for anybody. Pakistan would have surely won had there not been Sikhs fighting for India. 4) 1987 – (Sri Lanka operations against LTTE)--Indian army mauled so badly that they literally ran away from there. 5) 1999 Kargil — India was totally helpless until Israeli help arrived in the form of drones for intelligence gathering and bombing and other hi-tech weapons and finally the US forced Pakistan to withdraw. If we study the history of the subcontinent -- a huge and ancient land of more than a billion people, the only other community whose military history is worth talking about are the Marathas. Other than this it is all fictionalized and romanticized history of inconsequential people like "Rani Laxmi Bai of Jhansi" who made no difference in the real world. The military achievements of Sikhs did make a huge impact in the real world and is acknowledged by everyone.

19: Kaala Singh (Punjab), September 16, 2015, 3:09 AM.

@13: The Hindus have never been able to defend themselves without using somebody else to man the front lines. A story that I heard from one of my relatives and later confirmed it myself is relevant here. There is a place in Gujarat whose name is "Sardar" -- not like so many other places named in Gujarat after Sardar Patel, it got its name due to the Sikhs who fought here in one of the wars with Pakistan. The interesting thing here is that a large well-equipped Pakistani force attacked this place on the Gujarat border. Not finding anybody else to defend that place, the desis sent the Punjab Armed Police (PAP) of those days. Can you imagine a police force which is not meant for military combat being asked to fight a well trained army? But the PAP fought very well and stopped the Pakistani advance until the army arrived. Where was the Border Security Force which is India's so-called first line of defence and why was the PAP asked to defend that area? Yes, this was the same area where the Sikhs were literally requested to settle and defend and they worked hard to make the land fertile. In our times, Modi and his crew wanted to uproot these very Sikhs after they had made the land fertile and productive, and handover the land to Gujaratis. That is why I say, Sikhs should not lay down their lives for these cowards again.

20: Sarvjit Singh (Millis, Massachusetts, USA), September 16, 2015, 9:28 AM.

Comments on #9 and #15: #15 -- Gen Harbaksh Singh died many years ago. #9 -- In 1965 there was agreement between AM Noor Khan and MIAF Arjan Singh to not escalate the air war. That is why the air war was limited in action. It was the Army who saved the day. Also, we need to give due credit to the non-Sikh heroes of the war as well.

21: Rup Singh (Canada), September 16, 2015, 7:30 PM.

Salute to the great general. Wish we had some of our great generals negotiating with the British before partition, instead of the ones who put us in a hellhole called India. Our destiny would have been quite different.

22: Brig Nawab Singh Heer (Ret.) (New York, USA), September 16, 2015, 10:08 PM.

@19: In the 1971 Indo-Pak War, the Indian Army not only won the war but also created history by creating a separate nation - Bangla Desh by separating East Pakistan from the West.

23: Arjan Singh (USA), September 17, 2015, 11:27 AM.

#22. Brig Sahib: thanks for pointing that out. Based on my research this was also the largest number of soldiers to surrender as POWs after WWII. I can only imagine that the Sikh officers must have treated them as per the rules of engagement in spite of numerous war-time atrocities committed in East Pakistan by the Pakistanis. #20. Sarvjit ji: I do give credit to the non-Sikh heroes; of course that goes without saying. I grew up knowing about the legendary Sam Manekshaw, another accomplished military leader. The root issue is this: that the Sikh community is ready to give credit and help to others with an open hand; but reciprocity is not to be found. Very few in India will come to help the Sikh community in their constant struggle to maintain their unique identity in India and around the world. In contrast, let me give you an example of another selfless soldier by the name of Lt. Colonel Chanan Singh Dhillon. He not only served valiantly in WWII but was also captured multiple times in Italy and Germany by the Fascist forces. I can only imagine that he must have shown tremendous courage and empathy with his fellow POWs that the International Red Cross appointed him as the Chief Man of Confidence. Most folks would lead a quiet and comfortable life after the war; but this gentleman campaigned tirelessly for the full recognition of the sacrifices and services of the Indian subcontinent, and of African and Caribbean origin soldiers. This campaign resulted in the building of a large memorial in London (the Memorial Gates) that was inaugurated by the Queen in 2002. Not only are Sikh defense officers effective in combat but also show leadership skills in civilian life. Lt. Col. Chanan Singh is a fine example of such an officer. I can guarantee you that most kids have not even heard of him in Punjab, let alone the rest of India.

24: Sunny Grewal (Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada), September 17, 2015, 1:51 PM.

@22: How much success would India have had if General Shabegh Singh (later, shaheed of 1984 - Amritsar fame) and his Sikh soldiers had not infiltrated into East Pakistan and trained East Bengal insurgents to demoralize and defeat the Pakistani military in East Pakistan?

25: Kaala Singh (Punjab), September 17, 2015, 11:51 PM.

@24: Bangladesh and Vietnam proved one thing -- smaller non-state actors fighting established States having well-developed armies have to use guerrilla style "hit and run" tactics instead of the conventional "hold your ground" tactics, #22 will support me on this one. This is one of the reasons why the LTTE got defeated in Sri Lanka so soon in the second round (they fought as guerrilla force in the first round) -- they thought that they had become as strong as a conventional army and fought to hold their positions at a great cost, whereas they should have done the opposite. Gen Shahbeg Singh excelled in guerrilla tactics. I am completely at a loss to understand why he chose to confine himself in the Golden Temple in 1984. Did they think they had become as strong as the fourth largest army in the world that they could hold their positions without serious damage to the complex and the human cost to the pilgrims? He could have achieved something had he been leading the resistance fighters from elsewhere. Finding solutions for the future starts with analyzing what went wrong in the past.

26: Sunny Grewal (Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada), September 18, 2015, 12:37 PM.

@25: I don't think anyone actually expected the Indian army to invade the Darbar Sahib complex.

27: Arjan Singh (USA), September 18, 2015, 3:22 PM.

#24 and #26. Sunny ji: This article is about a man who lived in a very different social environment, i.e., the British Raj and post-Independence India, and fought very different battles and wars. Even though the British were colonists, I must admit the rule of law prevailed more or less -- albeit to serve British interests primarily -- in their administration and in pre-Independence India. The rule of law has completely collapsed in India of the 1970s and in the decades following, but especially in today's India. Today, it is non-existent. The life of Gen. Shabegh Singh, his accomplishments, mistakes, travails and final battle in Amritsar deserve a separate write-up and discussion. I feel that by bringing him into this discussion we are moving away from the primary discussion on the life of Lt. Gen Harbaksh Singh.

28: Bambra (Delhi, India), September 19, 2015, 6:00 AM.

Such a luminary is not easy to find today. Gen Harbaksh Singh stands out tall. As a child I have witnessed the Indian Army contingents marching from North Block to the New Delhi Railway Station in 1962 and in 1965 we were patrolling for lights out against enemy air raids. We owe respect to the General for everything he achieved and making the Sikh Community proud. However there has been a severe let down by the civilian leadership in not acknowledging and portraying the good of such great soldiers and which has deprived the Sikh Youth in knowing and building upon such heritage. Instead they have been led astray into the world of addictions. Need a broader effort on part of the community to address the decay.

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He Led The Sikh Regiment To A Complete Rout Of The Enemy "

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