20th martyrdom anniversary of Major Harminder Pal Singh

Even though it was 20 years ago that Major Harminder Pal Singh had laid down his life protecting the nation during the Kargil conflict, he continues to live on in his family’s memories. Major Singh was shot by the enemy in Baramulla district of north Kashmir on April 13, 1999.

He was posthumously awarded the Shaurya Chakra for his service to the nation.

A student of Khalsa Senior Secondary School, Kharar, and Government College, Mohali, it was always his dream to join the armed forces.

His father Harpal Singh had retired as a Captain from the Army. The family lives in Sector 70, Mohali.

“He had joined the NCC. I think he was also inspired by the fact that I was in the armed forces,” recalls Capt Harpal Singh (retd), proudly.

Major Singh had first cleared the exam to become a pilot in the Indian Air Force, but did not meet the medical requirements. Dedicated to the cause of serving the nation, he later got commissioned in the 18 Grenadiers.

On the fateful day, Major Singh was engaged in an “eyeball-to-eyeball encounter” with three militants in a remote region of north Kashmir. He was shot through the temple by the third militant, but only after he had shot the other two.

The Major led the commando platoon of his battalion, in what was subsequently described as a “dare-devil” operation in Sadurkotbala village in Manasbal.

The family received the news of his martyrdom around 7.30 pm on April 13, 1999. Major Singh’s son Navteshwar Singh, who is now a student of Punjab Engineering College, was only three months old then.

“At that time, thousands of Sikhs had gathered at Anandpur Sahib on Baisakhi. The then CM of Punjab, Parkash Singh Badal, got the news of my son’s demise at Anandpur Sahib where he expressed his condolences,” recalls Capt Harpal Singh. He said the government had been supportive of the family since his son’s martyrdom.

Major Singh’s wife was awarded a job in the office of the District Food and Supplies Controller, Punjab.