The Living Legend: PVC Honorary Captain Bana Singh


Bana Singh was born into a Sikh family in Kadyal in Jammu and Kashmir on 6 January 1949. He enrolled in the Indian Army on 6 January 1969 into the 8th Battalion of the Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry (JAK LI). He was trained at the High Altitude Warfare School in Gulmarg and also at another school at Sonamarg. He has seen action in two operations i.e. Operation Meghdoot and Operation Rajiv. 

OPERATION RAJIV


Operation Rajiv was an Indian Army operation to capture the highest peak in the Siachen area in 1987. In 1987, the strategically important Siachen area had been infiltrated by the Pakistani forces. The Pakistanis had captured an important position, which they called "Quaid post". The post was located at a height of 6500 metres on the highest peak in the Siachen Glacier area. From this feature, the Pakistanis could snipe at Indian army positions since the height gave a clear view of the entire Saltoro range and Siachen glacier. The enemy post was virtually an impregnable glacier fortress with ice walls, 457 metres high, on either side.

On 18 April 1987, the Pakistanis from Quaid Post fired on the Indian troops at Point Sonam (6,400 m), killing two soldiers. The Indian Army then decided to evict the Pakistanis from the Post. Naib Subedar Bana Singh was posted in Siachen on 20 April 1987, as part of the 8th JAK LI regiment, which was given the task of capturing the Quaid Post. On 29 May, a JAK LI patrol led by Second lieutenant Rajiv Pande made at an unsuccessful attempt of capturing the post, resulting in deaths of 10 Indian soldiers. After a month of preparation, the Indian Army launched a fresh operation to capture the post. This operation, called "Operation Rajiv" in honour of 2nd Lt Rajiv Pande, was headed by Major Varinder Singh.

Starting on 23 June 1987, Major Varinder Singh's task force launched multiple attacks to capture the post. After initial failures, the 5-member team led by Nb Sub Bana Singh successfully captured the Quaid post on 26 June 1987. Nb Sub Bana Singh and his fellow soldiers, including Chuni Lal, climbed the steep 457 m high wall of ice. The team approached the Quaid Post from an unexpected direction, using a longer and more difficult approach than the other teams. There was a blizzard, resulting in poor visibility, which gave cover to the Indian soldiers. After reaching the top, Nb Sub Bana Singh found that there was a single Pakistani bunker. He lobbed a grenade into the bunker and closed the door, killing those inside. The two sides also got involved in a hand-to-hand combat, in which the Indian soldiers bayoneted some of the Pakistani soldiers outside the bunker. A few Pakistani soldiers jumped off the peak. Later, the Indians found six dead bodies of Pakistani soldiers.

On 26 January 1988, Nb Sub Bana Singh was awarded the Param Vir Chakra, the highest wartime gallantry medal in India for his bravery during Operation Rajiv. The peak which he captured was renamed Bana Top in his honour. At the time of the Kargil War, he was the only PVC awardee who was still serving in the Army.



A year after the end of Kargil War (during which he was the only PVC awardee still serving in the Army), Singh quietly retired after 32 years of exemplary service to the nation and returned home to Kadyal, the small village in Jammu where he was born. He now lives in a humble farm-fringed home while his son, Rajinder Singh, has followed in his illustrious footsteps to join the Indian Army in 2008 at the age of 18. The J&K Government named a stadium in the RS Pura area of Jammu after him and sanctioned an amount of Rs 5,000,000 for its development in 2010. 


CITATION

NB SUB BANA SINGH

8 JAK LI (JC-155825)

Naib Subedar Bana Singh volunteered to be a member of a task force constituted in June 1987 to clear an intrusion by an adversary in the Siachen Glacier area at an altitude of 21,000 feet. The post was virtually an impregnable glacier fortress with ice walls, 1500 feet high, on both sides. Naib Subedar Bana Singh led his men through an extremely difficult and hazardous route. He inspired them by his indomitable courage and leadership. The brave Naib Subedar and his men crawled and closed in on the adversary. Moving from trench to trench, lobbing hand grenades and charging with the bayonet, he cleared the post all intruders.

Nb Subedar Bana Singh displayed the most conspicuous gallantry and leadership under the most adverse conditions.

Quartered in snow, silent to remain. When the bugle calls, they shall rise and march again. 

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