Baba Harbhajan Singh

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Sepoy/Captain "Baba"

Harbhajan Singh
Born30 August 1946
Died4 October 1968
Some say Nathu La,[1] some say between Tukula and Dengshuka.[2] All of these location are in south-east Sikkim.
RankSepoy/ Captain (Honorary)
Service number2456687[3]
Unit23rd Punjab Regiment
AwardsMaha Vir Chakra

Sepoy/Honorary Captain "Baba" Harbhajan Singh[a] (1946-1968) was an Indian army soldier who served from 30 June 1965. He was posthumously awarded Mahavir Chakra India's second highest gallantry award.

Life and military career[edit]

Harbhajan Singh was born into a Sikh family on 30 August 1946 in the village of Sadrana (now in Pakistan). He completed his preliminary education at a village school, and then matriculated from DAV High School in Patti, Punjab, in March 1965. He enlisted as a soldier in Amritsar and joined the Punjab Regiment (India).[3]

Death, legacy and associated legend[edit]

Singh was martyred in 1968 near the Nathu La in eastern Sikkim, India. Harbhajan Singh's early death at the age of 22 is the subject of legend and religious veneration that has become popular among Indian Army regulars (jawans), the people of his village and apparently soldiers of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) across the border guarding the Indo-Chinese border between Sikkim and Tibet.[2][1][5]

Baba Harbhajan Singh memorial and shrine
Harbhajan Singh memorial (7348781594).jpg
East Sikkim, Sikkim, India - panoramio.jpg
Coordinates27°21′57″N 88°50′16″E / 27.36587°N 88.83790°E / 27.36587; 88.83790
LocationOn the route between Sherathang and Kupup (NH 717B), Sikkim, India

He has come to be known as "Saint Baba".[6] Every year on 11 September, a jeep departs with his personal belongings to the nearest railway station, New Jalpaiguri, from where it is then sent by train to the village of Kuka, in the Kapurthala district of the Indian state of Punjab. While empty berths on any train of the Indian Railways are invariably allocated to any waitlisted passenger or on a first-come-first-served basis by the coach attendants, a special reservation for the Baba is made. Every year a seat is left empty for the journey to his hometown and three soldiers accompany the Baba to his home. A small sum of money is contributed by soldiers posted in Nathula to be sent to his mother each month and his village still remembers him as martyr and undertook the initiative to help his family.[7][8]

In popular culture[edit]

Bhuvan Bam and Divya Dutta came together for a short-film, Plus-minus, which was loosely based on Singh's life and legacy. The film was directed by Jyoti Kapur Das.[9] It won the Best Short Film at the 64th Filmfare Awards.[10]


  1. ^ He is often confused with Maj Harbhajan Singh who was martyred in battle at the 14,500 feet (4,400 m) Nathu La, a mountain pass between Tibet and Sikkim where many battles took place between the Indian Army and the PLA during the 1967 Chino-Indian war.[4]
  1. ^ a b Mannewar, Prafulla (14 February 2021). Curiously Wandering. Notion Press. pp. Chapter 1: Hero of Nathula. ISBN 978-1-63714-511-1.
  2. ^ a b Jha, Rajan (2 June 2018). FACE OFF: A War that Never Ends. Girje Publisher. p. 52. ISBN 978-81-937915-0-9.
  3. ^ a b "Sepoy Harbhajan Singh". (Honourpoint). Retrieved 26 October 2021.
  4. ^ "MAJ HARBHAJAN SINGH (IC-14655)". Gallantry Awards. Ministry of Defence, Government of India. Retrieved 26 October 2021.
  5. ^ Saksena, Abhishek (25 January 2021). "The Hero Of Nathula Pass – Spirit Of Baba Harbhajan Singh That Guards India's Border". Retrieved 24 July 2017.
  6. ^ "Baba Harbhajan Singh: A Dead Soldier still on duty". 4 July 2015. Archived from the original on 21 December 2021. Retrieved 15 January 2017.
  7. ^ Unnithan, Sandeep (16 October 2006). "38 years after death, Capt Harbhajan Singh guards border with China 'in spirit'". India Today. Retrieved 26 October 2021.
  8. ^ Thomas, Samuel. "Harbhajan Singh of Upper Sikkim". Archived from the original on 7 August 2006.
  9. ^ Plus Minus, Entertainment Times, The Times of India, 14 September 2018, retrieved 7 May 2021
  10. ^ "Bhuvan Bam, Divya Dutta on their short film Plus Minus winning big at Filmfare Awards 2019". Firstpost. 31 March 2019. Retrieved 7 May 2021.