Thursday, Jun 30, 2022

Better Late Than Never: Kargil War Hero And Vir Chakra Awardee Promoted From Head Constable To ASI

Satpal Singh, who had killed Captain Karnal Sher Khan of the Northern Light Infantry and three others during Kargil War in 1999, now directs traffic in a small town in Punjba’s Sangrur district.

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In 1999, Sepoy Satpal Singh won the Vir Chakra for his exceptional bravery on the Tiger Hill during Kargil war.

Today, he is an Assistant Sub inspector with Punjab Police. He was promoted from a Head Constable to ASI on Friday after a report in The Indian Express described how Satpal now directs traffic in a small town in Punjba’s Sangrur district.

Satpal was part of the 8 Sikh team of two officers, four JCOs and 46 ORs (other ranks), tasked to help the 19 Grenadiers capture Tiger Hill. He killed Captain Karnal Sher Khan of the Northern Light Infantry and three others.

Today marks the 20th anniversary of Kargil Vijay Diwas - the day Kargil War formally came to an end after Indian soldiers successfully recaptured the mountain heights seized by the Pakistani Army.

Satpal Singh, who is now 46 years old, recalls the events of the day when he helped in recapturing the Tiger Hill. “We had reached out position by the evening of July 5, 1999,” Satpal Singh told the newspaper. “It was bitterly cold and all we had with us were the clothes we were wearing. Either we could carry extra woollens or extra arms and ammunition. The choice was obvious.”

The Sikh regiment had been directed to help the 18 Grenadiers regiment recapture Tiger Hill. Eighteen people died while pushing back Pakistani forces. Several others, including the two officers in the team – Major Ravindra Parmar and Lieutenant RK Sehrawat – were injured. Following this, Subedar Nirmal Singh of 8 Sikh took command.

The war veteran said that before being killed by a direct hit to the head, Subedar Nirmal Singh instructed the regiment’s soldiers to shout out “Bole So Nihal Sat Sri Akal” and rush the enemy and the officer leading them. “I took four bullets as I fired my LMG [light machine gun],” Singh said. “There was hand-to-hand combat.”

The war veteran said he pounced on a “tall, well-built man dressed in a tracksuit” who was leading the Pakistani troops. “There was chaos all around, both sides hurling abuses at each other as they fought,” Satpal Singh added. “I managed to kill him.”

After completing his service in the Army, Satpal was discharged in 2009. He joined Punjab Police the following year and was working as a head constable till today.

In an interview to English daily The Indian Express, Satpal said, “May be I made a wrong decision. I did not get any weightage for my Vir Chakra. I joined under the ex-servicemen quota. I am a Head Constable now.”

“Sportspersons winning medals are also given higher ranks…I killed a man who was awarded Pakistan’s highest gallantry award. Anyway, God is kind. He kept me alive. I just feel bad for my unemployed post-graduate son,” he said.