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The remains of Brigadier Sant Singh, twice decorated for bravery with Mahavir Chakra, the country’s second highest gallantry award in 1965 and 1971 wars, were consigned to flames with service honours here on Thursday.
A contingent of the battalion which Brig Sant Singh had commanded, 5 Sikh Light Infantry, especially came from Mamun, near Pathankot, to present military honours to their former commanding officer. They were led by the present commanding officer of the battalion, Col K Sandeep Kumar and the Subedar Major of the unit, Subedar Major Satnam Singh.
The Sikh Light Infantry jawans presented and reversed arms at the funeral ceremony before the pyre was lit by Manveer Singh Randhawa, the grandson of Brig Sant Singh. Buglers from the battalion sounded the ‘Last Post’ followed by ‘Rouse’ as a two-minute silence was observed on the occasion.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Col Kumar said that his battalion had lost an inspiring personality. “He had taken over the command of 5 Sikh LI in 1964 and went on to command it till 1968, leading it to earn the Battle Honour ‘Op Hill’ in the 1965 war,” he said. He added that on the golden jubilee of the battle honour some months back, Brig Sant Singh had sent a specially recorded message which was played in the battalion and he had sounded as inspiring as ever.
A large number of retired Army officers paid their respects to Brig Sant Singh led by the former Chief of Army Staff, General VP Malik (retd) who is also a former Colonel of the Sikh Light Infantry Regiment. Serving Army officers from the Western Command Chandimandir also laid wreaths on behalf of the senior officers of the command.
Prominent among those present on the occasion was Lt Gen GS Sihota (retd), Vir Chakra, former GOC-in-C Western Command, who is now the President of War Decorated India, an association of those gallantry awardees who were decorated for bravery in the face of external aggression. Also present were Brig NS Sandhu (retd), Maha Vir Chakra, Capt Reet MP Singh, Vir Chakra, Lt Col HIS Dhaliwal (retd), Vir Chakra, Brig KS Chandpuri (retd), Mahavir Chakra, Lt Col SS Sohi (retd), presdient of Ex-Servicemen Grievances Cell and Brig KS Kahlon (retd).
A wreath was also laid on behalf of former Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, by his close aide, Major Amardeep Singh Natt. Pradeep Chhabra, former Mayor of Chandigarh and sitting councillor and former councillor Chandermukhi Sharma also paid their respects.
Director Defence Services Welfare, Punjab, Brig JS Arora (retd0 alsi laid wreath on behalf of the minister for defence services welfare, Janmeja Singh Sekhon while Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, KJS Cheema, laid a wreath on behalf of Punjab CM, Parkash Singh Badal.
In a statement issued later in the day, Punjab CM expressed grief and sorrow over the demise of Brig. Sant Singh. He recalled the services rendered by Brig Sant Singh and said it was a huge loss to the nation and everyone would be ever indebted to the great son of the soil who always remained on forefront to defend its border from the external invasions on one hand and upholding the supreme traditions and glory of the armed forces on the other.
UT Administration, MC fails to pay respect
Despite the fact that the war hero, Brig Sant Singh, was a resident of Chandigarh and had also been a member of the Municipal Corporation, there was no representation of officials either from the Chandigarh Administration or the MC. Brig Sant Singh had remained a nominated councillor of the MC from 2002 onwards for one term. Even the Punjab CMs representative, KJS Cheema, arrived late at the funeral as did the SSP Mohali, Gurpreet Singh Bhullar. The veterans present on the occasion deplored the absence of a minister from Punjab government as well as UT burecaucracy and said that sending representatives at the last rites of a war hero was not sufficient to pay him respects.