Major Hoshiar Singh Dahiya (he retired later as a Colonel) was an officer in the Indian Army who participated in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 on the Western Sector in Shakargarh, Pakistan. Major Hoshiar Singh was awarded the prestigious Param Vir Chakra for displaying exemplary bravery while facing the enemy and thus became one of the few living soldiers to have been awarded the Param Vir Chakra.
Major Hoshiar Singh Dahiya was born on Wednesday, 5 May 1937 (age 61 years; at the time of his death in 1998) at Sisana village, Sonipat district, Punjab (now in Haryana). Having completed his schooling, Hoshiar Singh joined Jat College. After completing the first year of his college, he decided to join the army. After the completion of his training, he was commissioned in the 3rd battalion of the Grenadiers Regiment in June of 1963.
Family & Caste
Major Hoshiar Singh Dahiya belonged to a Hindu Jat family from Haryana.
His father’s name was Chaudhary Hira Singh.
His mother’s name was Mathuri Devi.
Wife & Children
Major Hoshiar Singh Dahiya got married to Dhano Devi at a very young age. When he got married, he was in class 7th.
He is survived by his 3 sons. 2 of which joined the army as officers and were commissioned in the Grenadier Regiment. One of the two sons joined his father’s unit, the 3rd Grenadiers.
He resided at 42, Krishna Colony, Khati Pura Road, Jaipur, Rajasthan -302012, India
Establishing a foothold in the army
Major Hoshiar Singh Dahiya initially joined as a Sepoy in the 2nd battalion of the Jat Regiment before qualifying for the officer’s examination. After serving for some time as a Sepoy, he was selected for the Army Cadet College (ACC), by showcasing leadership and other officers like qualities. The ACC branch of the Indian Military Academy is responsible for the training and transformation of Sepoys into army officers. After successful completion of his training in June of 1963, he was commissioned in the 3rd battalion of the Grenadier Regiment as a 2nd Lieutenant.
Participation in the 1965 Indo-Pakistan War
During the Indo-Pakistan War of 1965, Lieutenant Dahiya was engaged in operations in the western sector of Rajasthan for which his name was mentioned in several dispatches. In 1969, Lieutenant Dahiya was promoted to the rank of Captain.
Moved to the Western front in 1971
Even though the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971 was majorly being fought in the eastern sector in East Pakistan (now known as Bangladesh), Pakistan thought that if they opened up another front along the Western border of India, they would be able to divert India’s attention towards the Western front and the Pakistan Armed Forces would have an easy victory over the Indians in the East. But India had already taken into consideration the threat of 2 front war with Pakistan and the armed forces were prepared. As a result of which Major Dahiya along with his unit 3 Grenadiers were tasked to capture Jarpal at Shakargarh Sector.
Earning the coveted Param Vir Chakra
Major Dahiya was the company commander of the Charlie Company of the 3rd Grenadiers. On 15 December 1971, his company was tasked to attack and capture Jarpal. The enemy was dug in deep and had fortified their positions as they were expecting an assault from the Indian Army. As soon as the attack commenced, Charlie Company came under heavy and effective fire, inflicting heavy casualties on the company. Major Dahiya, relentlessly moved towards the enemy machine-gun posts and in a hand-to-hand fight, he successfully neutralized the enemy which forced them to retreat.
The Pakistani counter-attack begins
On 16 December 1971, the Pakistani Army counter-attacked the Indian positions thrice with the support of their heavy artillery and tanks. But the attack was repulsed by Indian soldiers inflicting heavy casualties upon the enemy. On 17 December 1971, another massive counterattack was organized by the Pakistan Army on Indian positions with the help of artillery. Major Hoshiar Singh moved without any cover from one trench to the other organizing defence and motivating the troops to hold their ground. During the course of action, Major Hoshiar Singh was severely wounded but he refused to be evacuated so as to be in the battleground among his men and hence he continued to hold his position against a much larger enemy.
During the heavy Pakistani artillery shelling, the Indian crew manning the medium machine gun got injured which made the gun inoperable. Sensing the damage being done to his soldiers, Major Dahiya, though himself being grievously wounded, took control of the MMG and provided effective fire to the Indian troops forcing the enemy to withdraw. By the end of the attack, Pakistan had lost 85 men in the battle including their Commanding Officer and 3 other officers.
Words of his valour as jotted down by the Army itself
The official citation of Major Hoshiar Singh Dahiya made by the Indian Army stated,
Though seriously wounded by enemy shelling, Major Hoshiar Singh again went from trench to trench, moving about in the open with utter disregard for his personal safety, when an enemy shell landed near the MMG post injuring the crew and rendering it inoperative. Major Hoshiar Singh, realising the importance of the machine-gun fire, immediately rushed to the machine gun pit and, though seriously wounded himself, manned the gun, inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy. Though seriously wounded, Major Hoshiar Singh refused to be evacuated till the cease-fire. Throughout this operation, Major Hoshiar Singh displayed most conspicuous gallantry, indomitable fighting spirit and leadership”.
Career after the war
He continued to serve in the army after the war. In 1981, Major Dahiya was posted to the Indian Military Academy as an instructor. Two years later on 8 April 1983, while at IMA he was promoted to the rank of a Lieutenant Colonel. Later on, he went on to be promoted to the rank of a Colonel, after which he commanded his unit, the 3rd battalion of the Grenadier Regiment. He retired from the army in the May of 1988.
Major Hoshiar Singh Dahiya was awarded India’s highest gallantry award, The Param Vir Chakra for his gallant actions in the line of duty and complete disregard for personal safety.
- The Indian Military Academy honoured the brave soldier by unveiling his bust at the gymnasium which was inaugurated by his wife.
- Jaipur’s famous Queen’s Road was renamed Hoshiar Singh Marg to honour the brave soldier.
Major Hoshiar Singh Dahiya died after succumbing to a cardiac arrest. He breathed his last on 6 December 1998.
- After commissioning as an officer in 1963, Major Hoshiar Singh Dahiya was posted at North-East Frontier Agency (NEFA) to keep a tab on the Chinese movement.
- He was a good sports player and was even selected to represent the state of Punjab in Volleyball.
- He was very good in his studies and even stood first in his entire school during his matriculation exam.
- When he was in the Jat Regiment as a Sepoy, his volleyball teammates would often refer to him as “Hoshiare”.
- During the Indo-Pakistan War of 1965, he was deployed with his unit in the Bikaner Sector where while on a patrol he collected a piece of very valuable information on the enemy, that sabotaged the enemy’s advancement.
- As an instructor at IMA, his company, Sinhgarh Company, would remain overall champions for 6 consecutive times. This record till date has not been broken.