India

General Sagat Singh: The Real Hero of the 1971 War

‘A fantastic General who had change into a legend in his lifetime.’
‘India won’t see the likes of Sagat Singh once more.’
Prakash Bhandari salutes the reminiscence of the navy genius who captured Dacca in the 1971 War.

IMAGE: Lieutenant General Sagat Singh after which Major General Okay V Krishna Rao — later the military chief — with Havildar Dil Bahadur Chettri at Sylhet throughout the 1971 War. Photograph: Kind courtesy EasternCommand_IA/Twitter

2021 is the golden jubilee yr of the formation of Bangladesh. In the chilly month of December 1971, courageous Indian troopers captured 93,000 Pakistani prisoners in 14 days of a multi-front navy engagement that noticed the delivery of a brand new nation.

Lieutenant General Sagat Singh was the unsung hero of that conflict, instrumental in the fall of Dacca.

General Sagat was the General Officer Commanding of the Tezpur (Assam)-based 4 Corps and it was he who, regardless of being injured by machine-gun hearth, efficiently performed the daring night-time heliborne operations over the rivers of then East Pakistan and the treacherous terrain which ensured the fall of Dacca so rapidly and decisively, resulting in the historic give up at the Dacca Racecourse at 4.32 pm on December 16, 1971.

 

General Sagat Singh: The Real Hero of the 1971 War

IMAGE: General Sagat addresses the troops. He was identified for his modern navy techniques. Photograph: Kind courtesy Bharat Rakshak

Sagat Singh joined the military as a sepoy in the erstwhile princely state of Bikaner and rose to change into a normal. He was a born navy hero and it appeared that his complete life was geared to main his males into battle.

“In 1971, in a major logistic achievement, he moved his Corps to Agartala. When the operations commenced, his Corps relentlessly attacked and defeated the Pakistani forces, crossed river lines and terrain considered impossible in an innovative use of helicopters that has never been repeated,” remembers Major General Randhir Singh (retd), ADC to General Sagat throughout the 1971 War.

“His knowledge of operational war was perhaps without parallel,” provides General Randhir, creator of a e book on General Sagat. “He can be compared with the best generals of the First and Second World Wars.”

General Sagat Singh: The Real Hero of the 1971 War

IMAGE: Then military chief General Sam Manekshaw addresses the troops after the give up ceremony. General Sagat is on the future discipline marshal’s proper. Photograph: Kind courtesy Bharat Rakshak

After the Instrument of Surrender was signed on December 16, 1971, then prime minister Indira Gandhi visited Dacca, profusely thanked General Sagat and noticed to it that he stayed in Dacca to help the Mujibur Rahman authorities.

Colonel Ranvijay Singh (retd), General Sagat’s son, remembers that his father all the time led from the entrance and regardless of how troublesome a mission was, carried the under-command with him.

Even as a really senior commander, provides the colonel, he uncovered himself routinely to hazard — he narrowly escaped dying many instances — and went past the name of responsibility to attain the “task plus” by capturing Dacca in a really distinctive approach.

Colonel Ranvijay says his father differed in techniques and technique with the increased command, and that’s how courageously he lived his life.

In his foreword to General Randhir’s e book A Talent For War: The Military Biography of Lt Gen Sagat Singh, Lieutenant General S Okay Sinha (retd), who later grew to become the governor of Jammu and Kashmir, writes: ‘This biography… describes intimately how the most distinguished battlefield commander of the Indian Army performed operations throughout the liberation of Goa, dealt with insurgency in Mizoram, broke the fable of ten ft tall Chinese troopers by getting the higher of them throughout a giant skirmish in Sikkim and offered dynamic management to his Corps towards all odds, main his formation from the entrance in the Indo-Pak War of 1971.’

‘His excellent management was a significant component contributing to the unprecedented victory of the Indian Army in over a millennium,’ declares General Sinha.

General Sagat Singh: The Real Hero of the 1971 War

IMAGE: A portrait of General Sagat at the Sagat Singh block at the formation headquarters in Tezpur. Photograph: Kind courtesy EasternCommand_IA/Twitter

After the conflict, when General Sagat was outmoded and his junior, Lieutenant General Okay Okay Singh, was made his boss, General Sinha stated, ‘I thought-about it very unlucky that the higher-ups ought to deal with a conflict hero who had achieved a lot for the nation in such an unfair and unjust method.’

On General Sagat’s dying, General Okay Okay Singh paid him the final tribute: ‘A fantastic General who had change into a legend in his lifetime. India won’t see the likes of Sagat Singh once more.’

General Sagat Singh: The Real Hero of the 1971 War

IMAGE: A bust of General Sagat in Jaipur. Photograph: ANI Photo

Towards the finish of 1991, I referred to as on General Sagat and his spouse Kamla Kumari at Meghna, their appropriately named bungalow after the river in Bangladesh. The normal, a strikingly good-looking and supremely assured man, was in the autumn of his life. At 6′ 3″ — towering over us all — the conflict hero stood ramrod straight, and with no bitterness.

Among the many issues he instructed me that day in Jaipur, one distinctly stands out in my thoughts: “em>Bhay kya hota hai, maine aaj tak nahi jana (I know not what fear is).”

“I have not known anyone — before or since — who could say it with such conviction,” asserts General Randhir Singh.

General Sagat Singh handed away in 2001. One of India’s and the world’s most interesting generals, he deserves to be remembered and honoured far more than he has been.

Prakash Bhandari is a veteran political commentator primarily based in Jaipur.

Feature Presentation: Rajesh Alva/Rediff.com

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