Indian Army remembers fallen heroes of 1971 Battle of BasantarDecember 16th, 2010 - 4:48 pm ICT by IANS
By Sarwar Kashani
Mathura (Uttar Pradesh), Dec 16 (IANS) The Indian Army Thursday remembered its fallen heroes in the 1971 war with Pakistan by celebrating a hard-won victory in a fierce tank battle of Basantar in western sector.The next of kin of two winners of the Param Vir Chakra - the highest war-time gallantry award - were felicitated at the ceremony in the army’s Strike 1 Corps headquarters in this Uttar Pradesh garrison town.
Eightyfive-year-old mother of Second Lieutenant Arun Khetrapal, killed in the battle between the armoured regiments of the Indian and Pakistani armies, was the guest of honour at the ceremony. She was given a memento citing the “supreme sacrifice” of her son who died fighting at the age of 21.
The son of Colonel Hoshiar Singh, who was also killed in the battle on the western front, was also given a memento on the occasion.
Earlier, Lt. Gen. S.R. Gosh, heading the Western Command, and Lt. Gen. A.K. Singh who heads the Strike 1 Corps, laid floral wreaths at the war memorial in the army cantonment here, erected in memory of the fallen heroes.
The Indian Army had won the battle to secure the area in the Punjab-Jammu sector.
A coffee table book summarising the history of Strike 1 Corps was also released on the occasion.
The battle of Basantar, also known as the battle of Barapind, fought Dec 4-16, was one of the vital victories for India in the 1971 war in the western sector of India.
Basantar is a tributary of the river Ravi that flows in the states of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. The battle took place in the Shakargarh sector, a bulge of Pakistan boundary in the Indian territory.
The point was strategic for both sides as it comprised road links to Jammu from Punjab which, if cut off by Pakistan, could have led to snapping of a key link to Jammu and Kashmir.
According to war records, Pakistan had an advantage of having an army base in Sialkot close to the battle zone, but the Indian Army maintained a base at Pathankot, nearly 300 km from Shakargarh.
Kheterpal, who served in 17 Poona Horse, a cavalry unit, fought the battle on a T-55 tank after he was ordered to establish a bridgehead across the Basantar river, covered with deep minefields.
He fiercely attacked and overcame the enemy defences along with his tank troop, and destroyed nearly 10 Pakistani Patton tanks before his tank was also hit and burst into flames. The gallant officer was mortally wounded.
Remembering the dead lieutenant, Maheshwari Khetrepal said her son had done “nothing extraordinary” by offering his life. “This was his duty and he had joined the army to protect the nation. He did me proud. I’m an equally brave mother,” she told IANS in a choked voice.
Major (as he was then) Hoshiar Singh was a 3 Grenadiers Regiment officer, who led his troops to capture Jarpal in the Shakargarh sector during the battle. Singh met with fierce resistance from the Pakistan Army but he went from trench to trench and repulsed the enemy attack along with his company. He was seriously wounded, but Singh refused to be evacuated till ceasefire.
He retired as a colonel before he died Dec 6, 1998.
(Sarwar Kashani can be contacted at email@example.com)
- Indian Army remembers fallen heroes of Battle of Basantar (Lead) - Dec 16, 2010
- Mother recalls young lieutenant who'd win Param Vir Chakra in 1971 - Dec 16, 2010
- Lt. Gen. S.K. Singh is new army vice chief - Nov 01, 2011
- Gen. V.K. Singh: Tough soldier who lost a legal battle (Profile) - Feb 10, 2012
- Indian Army to celebrate 71st Armour Day - Apr 30, 2009
- Last veteran of 1971 war Gen. Ghosh retires - May 31, 2012
- Indian Army recalls 1971 victory - Dec 16, 2011
- India remembers hero of 1947 Pakistan war - Jul 15, 2012
- India to hold massive war game this winter - Jun 10, 2011
- Army officer cremated with full military honours - Aug 22, 2011
- India's massive winter war game begins this week - Oct 02, 2011
- Indian Army's armoured regiment honoured - Oct 01, 2011
- Pakistan war-gaming to counter India's military plan - Jun 05, 2011
- India's first field marshal Sam Manekshaw remembered - Apr 03, 2012
- Bikram Singh will be next Indian Army chief (Lead) - Mar 03, 2012
Tags: army base, battle zone, cantonment, coffee table book, corps headquarters, floral wreaths, garrison town, guest of honour, himachal pradesh, indian army, indian territory, kashani, param vir, river ravi, second lieutenant, supreme sacrifice, tank battle, war records, western sector, won victory