Major Harminder Singh
At about 1 p.m. on 13 April 1999, information was received that some Pakistani Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) mercenaries were hiding in the congested locality of Khan Mohalla, in the Sudarkut Bala village, approximately 40 km north of Srinagar in Baramula district of the Kashmir Valley. Working swiftly on this tip off, Major Harminder Pal Singh, 18 Grenadiers, with approximately 50 men under his command, reached the locality by 1:30 p.m. and established a cordon around it. Soon after, they commenced a search for the mercenaries.
When the search party was approximately 40 metres from the suspected houses, the mercenaries opened heavy automatic fire, and a fierce fire-fight ensued thereafter. In this fire, Major H.P. Singh sustained bullet injuries on his left arm, while two other soldiers received splinter injuries from a rifle grenade fired by the mercenaries. The search party was now pinned down in the open, and the fire-fight intensified.
Major Singh and his troops held their ground. Realising the seriousness of the situation, in spite of being injured and with utter disregard to personal safety, he boldly charged towards the side window of a room from where effective fire was being brought down on the search party, and swiftly eliminated two mercenaries at point blank range. The third mercenary however, retaliated immediately. In the process, Major Singh sustained a gun shot wound on his temple. He engaged the mercenary to the last till he succumbed to his injuries.
The mercenary tried to flee, but was shot dead by the search party, and the firing died down. Major H.P. Singh had fearlessly led his column from upfront, setting a personal example for his command to emulate. He made the supreme sacrifice of his life while fighting the Pak ISI sponsored proxy war and safe guarding the integrity of his motherland. His mortal remains, draped in the tricolour, were sent to his village, on 14 April 1999 where he was cremated with honours reserved for the bravest.
When the nation celeberated the tercentenary of the Khalsa Panth in April 1999, this brave officer upheld the martial spirit of the Khalsa by his supreme sacrifice. There can be no better example of the spirit of Service Before Self – the motto of the Indian Army – where Major Harminder Pal Singh, despite having suffered grevious injuries, continued to lead his troops from the front and eliminated two mercenaries before laying down his life. He was honoured with the Shaurya Chakra, for his gallantry and devotion to duty, it is highest peacetime award.