Joginder Singh (soldier)

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Joginder Singh
Joginder SIngh PVC.jpg
Born (1921-09-26)September 26, 1921
Moga, Punjab
Died October 23, 1962(1962-10-23) (aged 41)
Allegiance British India
Service/branch British Indian Army
Indian Army
Years of service 1936–1962
Rank Subedar
Service number JC-4547[1]
Unit 1 SIKH
Battles/wars Second World War
Indo-Pakistani War of 1947
Sino-Indian War
Awards Param Vir Chakra

Subedar Joginder Singh Sahnan, PVC (26 September 1921 – 23 October 1962), was an Indian Army soldier, and recipient of the Param Vir Chakra. Singh was recruited into the First Battalion of the Sikh Regiment in 1936. During the 1962 Sino-Indian War, he was commanding a platoon at Bumla. Though being heavily outnumbered, he led his troops in the face of the enemy and fought until becoming wounded and made a prisoner of war. He later died in Chinese captivity.

Early life[edit]

Joginder Singh was born on 28 September 1921 in Mahalakalan near Moga, Punjab. He spent his childhood in the same village. Due to financial constraints of his family, Singh was not able to complete his education. He was motivated to join the Army, on feeling that it would give him an "identity and purpose".[2]

Military career[edit]

Singh was recruited in to the 1st Battalion of Sikh Regiment on 28 September 1936.[3][1] After joining the Army, he identified his interest in education, and soon passed the Army Education Examination. He was subsequently appointed as the Unit Education Instructor.[4] He served in the Second World War on the Burma front, and in Srinagar during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947–1948.[3]

Sino India War[edit]

Owing to the flat Tibetan plateau, the geographically benefited Chinese occupied most of the forward areas along the border towards Tibet. Even after continuous protests by India over China's intrusion, the Chinese troops continued to occupy several hundred square kilometers of the Indian territory. As days passed, China enormously increased the number of garrisons and roads, to support its troops. To counter the Chinese, then Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru asked for plans. However, plan proposed by the Indian Army was rejected. Instead, he approved a plan called the "Forward Policy", which was proposed by a civilian official from the Intelligence Bureau. The plan was to establish a number of small posts facing the Chinese. Due the severe rise in public criticism against Chinese intrusions, Nehru implemented the "Forward Policy" against army's advice.[5] The Army's concern was that the Chinese had geographical advantage, and also maintaining numerous small posts would be untenable if the Chinese superior forces attack. This was ruled out by Nehru, who felt that whatever may the case, the Chinese wouldn't attack. But the Chinese did, and the war began.[6]

Battle at Bumla[edit]

With the growing escalations of Chinese intrusion into the Indian territory, on 9 September 1962, then Defence Minister of India Krishna Menon made a decision to evict the Chinese troops south of Thala ridge. This decision was endorsed by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, who was in London to attend the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference. Subsequently, the 7th Infantry Brigade was ordered to move to Namka Chu, which was considered as militarily unsound and an advantageous ground for the Chinese. This move was extremely criticized by the Indian media, who publicized it with "sensational headlines", arguing India's military offensive capability.[7]

The Chinese getting aware of these developments, attacked the unprepared Indian post at Namka Chu. Though the Indian troops resisted the attack, heavy casualties had been suffered owing to inadequate ammunition, weak communication lines etc. Soon after the attack, the Chinese forwarded to Tawang. Midway they encountered an Indian post at Bumla,[7] held by a platoon of 20 men[3] from the 1st Battalion of Sikh Regiment. The post was under the command of Subedar Joginder Singh.[7] The Chinese attacked the post in three waves, each comprising 200 men.[1] Though the initial attach was repelled successfully, by the end of first wave, the platoon was depleted to half of its strength. Singh was also wounded, but refused evacuation. Soon the ammunition exhausted, and the survivors are only left with their bayonets.[8]

Unmindful of their safety, the Indian soldiers charged towards the Chinese, shouting the war cry Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh.[a] The Chinese lines were scattered on this sight, and many of them became victims to the bayonets. Due to heavy numbers and superior weapons, the Chinese were able to sustain the last charge by the Singh and his soldiers.[8] Before Singh was overpowered and captured by the Chinese, he single-handedly killed fifty enemy soldiers with his bayonet. He later succumbed to his injuries and died in Chinese captivity.[3]

Param Vir Chakra[edit]

Though being heavily outnumbered, Subedar Joginder Singh desperately led his men in face of the enemy, and fought until the last moments. For his gallantry actions on 23 October 1962, Subedar Joginder Singh was awarded the Param Vir Chakra.[9] The citation reads:

Subedar Joginder Singh was the commander of a platoon of the Sikh Regiment holding a defensive position at a ridge near Tongpen La in NEFA. At 0530 hours on 23 October 1962, the Chinese opened a very heavy attack on the Bumla axis with the intention of breaking through to Towang. The leading battalion of the enemy attacked the ridge in three waves, each about 200 strong. Subedar Joginder Singh and his men mowed down the first wave, and the enemy was temporarily halted by the heavy losses it suffered. With in a few minutes, a second wave came over and was dealt with similarly. But the platoon had, by then, lost half its men. Subedar Joginder Singh was wounded in the thigh but refused to be evacuated. Under his inspiring leadership the platoon stubbornly held its ground and would not withdraw. Meanwhile the position was attacked for the third time. Subedar Joginder Singh himself manned a light machine-gun and shot down a number of the enemy. The Chinese however continued to advance despite heavy losses. When the situation became untenable Subedar Joginder Singh and the few men that were left in the position fixed bayonets and charged the advancing Chinese, bayoneting a number of them before he and his comrades were overpowered. Throughout this action, Subedar joginder Singh displayed devotion to duty, inspiring leadership and bravery of the highest order.

— Gazette of India Notification No.68—Press/62, (Cardozo 2003, pp. 70–71)

Singh was survived by his wife, Gurdial Kaur, and three children. On hearing the news of Singh's death, his elder daughter died.[2] The Chinese sent his ashes with full military honours to the battalion on 17 May 1963. The urn was later brought to Sikh Regimental Centre at Meerut, was eventually handed over to his wife.[3]

Other honours[edit]

In the 1980s, the Shipping Corporation of India (SCI), a Government of India enterprise under the aegis of the Ministry of Shipping, named fifteen of its crude oil tankers in honour of the PVC recipients. The tanker MT Subedar Joginder Singh, PVC was delivered to SCI in 1984, and served for 25 years before being phased out.[10] In Singh's honour, a memorial statue has been built near the Office of District Collector in Moga, and a monument has been built at IB ridge by the Indian Army.[11]

In popular culture[edit]

A biopic is being made on Singh's life and his action during Sino-Indian War. The lead role is being played by Punjabi actor-singer Gippy Grewal.[12]


  1. ^ English: Hail the Khalsa who belongs to the Lord God! Hail the Lord God to whom belongs the victory.[9]
  1. ^ a b c Chakravorty 1995, p. 58.
  2. ^ a b Cardozo 2003, p. 72.
  3. ^ a b c d e Maninder Dabas (18 August 2016). "The Story of Subedar Joginder Singh - Who Crushed Waves Of Chinese Attacks At Bum La In Tawang In 1962". Indiatimes. Times Internet Limited. Retrieved 21 November 2017. 
  4. ^ Cardozo 2003, p. 2003.
  5. ^ Cardozo 2003, p. 73.
  6. ^ Cardozo 2003, p. 74.
  7. ^ a b c Cardozo 2003, p. 69.
  8. ^ a b Cardozo 2003, p. 70.
  9. ^ a b Chakravorty 1995, p. 59.
  10. ^ "Subedar Joginder Singh PVC Ship". Shipping Data. ED Web Consulting. Retrieved 21 November 2017. 
  11. ^ Sanchari Pal. "Remembering Param Vir Subedar Joginder Singh and His Extraordinary Tale of Bravery". The Better India. Retrieved 21 November 2017. 
  12. ^ "Gippy Grewal on PVC Subedar Joginder Singh biopic: It's a massive responsibility to play this national hero". The Indian Express. 16 August 2017. Retrieved 21 November 2017. 


Further reading[edit]

  • Rawat, Rachna Bisht (2014), The Brave: Param Vir Chakra Stories, Penguin Books India Private Limited, ISBN 978-01-4342-235-8 
  • Reddy, Kittu (2007), Bravest of the Brave: Heroes of the Indian Army, New Delhi: Prabhat Prakashan, ISBN 978-81-87100-00-3