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Joginder Singh (soldier)

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Subedar Joginder Singh Sahnan, PVC (28 September 1921 – 23 October 1962), was an Indian Army soldier who posthumously received India's highest military gallantry award, the Param Vir Chakra. Singh joined the British Indian Army in 1936, and served in the 1st battalion of the Sikh Regiment. During the 1962 Sino-Indian War, he was commanding a platoon at the Bum La Pass in the North-East Frontier Agency. Though heavily outnumbered, he led his troops against a Chinese assault and defended his post until he was wounded and captured. Singh died from his injuries while in Chinese custody.[2]

Joginder Singh Sahnan

Joginder SIngh PVC.jpg
Born(1921-09-28)28 September 1921
Mahla kalan, Moga district, Punjab, British India
Died23 October 1962(1962-10-23) (aged 41)
Bum La Pass, North-East Frontier Agency, India
AllegianceBritish India
Service/branchBritish Indian Army
Indian Army
Years of service1936–1962
Service numberJC-4547[1]
Unit1st battalion, Sikh Regiment
Battles/warsSecond World War
Indo-Pakistani War of 1947
Sino-Indian War
AwardsParam Vir Chakra

Early lifeEdit

Joginder Singh was born on 28 September 1921 in Mahalakalan, Moga district, Punjab, British India. He spent his childhood in the same village. His father Sher Singh Sahnan belonged to an agricultural Saini Sikh family which had relocated to Mahalakalan from the village Munak Kalan (Often pronounced as Munaka) in Hoshiarpur district.[3][4][5] His mother was Bibi Krishan Kaur Bhela. Joginder Singh married Bibi Gurdyal Kaur Banga, who was from a Saini family in the village Kothay Rara Singh, near Kotkapura. He went to primary school in Nathu Ala village and went to middle school in Daroli village.[3] He decided to join the army, considering that it would give him an "identity and purpose".[6]

Military careerEdit

On joining the British Indian Army, Singh was posted to the 1st battalion of the Sikh Regiment (1 Sikh) on 28 September 1936.[1][7] 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.[6] He served in the Second World War on the Burma front, and in Srinagar during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947–1948.[7]

Sino-India WarEdit

There had long been disagreement between India and China over disputed borders in the Himalaya region. To counter the increasing Chinese intrusions into disputed territory, then Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru asked for strategies for dealing with them. However, the proposal put forward by the Indian Army was rejected. Instead, he approved a plan proposed by a bureaucrat called the "Forward Policy". This called for the establishment of a number of small posts facing the Chinese. Due the severe rise in public criticism against Chinese intrusions, Nehru implemented the "Forward Policy" against the advice of the army.[8] The army's concern was that the Chinese had geographical advantage. Additionally, maintaining numerous small posts would be untenable if the Chinese superior forces attacked. This was ruled out by Nehru who believed the Chinese would not attack. But the Chinese did, initiating the Sino-India War.[9]

Battle at Bum LaEdit

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 Nehru, who was in London to attend the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference. Subsequently, the 7th Infantry Brigade, which included 1 Sikh, was ordered to move to Namka Chu, which was considered as militarily unsound and an advantageous ground for the Chinese. This move was strongly criticized by the Indian media, who publicized it with "sensational headlines", arguing India's military offensive capability.[10]

The Chinese, aware of these developments, attacked the unprepared Indian post at Namka Chu. Though the Indian troops resisted the attack, they took heavy casualties due to inadequate ammunition and weak communication lines. Soon after the attack, the Chinese advanced to Tawang. Midway they encountered an Indian post at the Bum La Pass, held by a platoon of 20 men from 1 Sikh.[10][7] The post was under the command of Singh, now a subedar.[10] The Chinese attacked the post in three waves, each comprising 200 men.[1] Though the initial two attacks were repelled successfully, by that time, the platoon was depleted to half of its original strength. Singh was also wounded, but refused evacuation. Soon the ammunition was exhausted, and the survivors were only left with their bayonets.[11]

The Sikh soldiers then charged towards the Chinese, shouting the war cry Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh.[a] The Chinese lines were scattered at this sight and many were bayoneted. Due to heavy numbers and superior weapons, the Chinese were able to withstand the last charge by Singh and his remaining soldiers.[11] Before Singh was overpowered and captured by the Chinese, he single-handedly killed several Chinese soldiers with his bayonet. He later succumbed to his injuries and died in Chinese captivity.[7]

Param Vir ChakraEdit

Though being heavily outnumbered, Singh led his men, and kept their morale up, in the face of enemy. For his action of gallantry on 23 October 1962, he was awarded the Param Vir Chakra.[12] 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, [13]

On hearing the news of Singh's death, his elder daughter died.[6] The Chinese sent his ashes with full military honours to the battalion on 17 May 1963.[7] The urn was later brought to the Sikh Regimental Centre at Meerut, and eventually handed over to his wife.[7]

Other honoursEdit

Singh's statue at Param Yodha Sthal, National War Memorial, New Delhi

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.[14] 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.[15]

In popular cultureEdit

The 2018 biopic Subedar Joginder Singh is based on Singh's life and his action during Sino-Indian War. The lead role was played by Punjabi actor-singer Gippy Grewal.[16]



  1. ^ English: Hail the Khalsa who belongs to the Lord God! Hail the Lord God to whom belongs the victory.[12]


  1. ^ a b c Chakravorty 1995, p. 58.
  2. ^ Maninder Dabas (6 July 2017). "The Story of Subedar Joginder Singh - Who Crushed Waves Of Chinese Attacks At Bum La In Tawang In 1962". Retrieved 15 November 2018.
  3. ^ a b Saini Jagat: Utpati Ate Vikas, pp 121, Prof. Surjit Singh Nanuan, Manjota Publications, Patiala, 2008
  4. ^ Tributes paid to Subedar Joginder Singh Saini, October 23, 2017, Daily Ajit (Punjabi Edition), Jalandhar
  5. ^ "He became the second Saini Sikh to get the PVC after Capt Gurbachan Singh Salaria, who earned the award posthumously leading a Khukri charge in December 1961 at Katanga, Congo, while on a UN Mission ",When the will became a weapon, The Tribune, Sunday, August 05, 2018| url=
  6. ^ a b c Cardozo 2003, p. 72.
  7. ^ a b c d e f 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. Archived from the original on 2 November 2017. Retrieved 21 November 2017.
  8. ^ Cardozo 2003, p. 73.
  9. ^ Cardozo 2003, p. 74.
  10. ^ a b c Cardozo 2003, p. 69.
  11. ^ a b Cardozo 2003, p. 70.
  12. ^ a b Chakravorty 1995, p. 59.
  13. ^ Cardozo 2003, pp. 70–71.
  14. ^ "Subedar Joginder Singh PVC Ship". Shipping Data. ED Web Consulting. Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 21 November 2017.
  15. ^ Sanchari Pal (27 September 2017). "Remembering Param Vir Subedar Joginder Singh and His Extraordinary Tale of Bravery". The Better India. Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 21 November 2017.
  16. ^ "Gippy Grewal on PVC Subedar Joginder Singh biopic: It's a massive responsibility to play this national hero". The Indian Express. 16 August 2017. Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 21 November 2017.


Joginder Singh (field hocke)


  • Cardozo, Ian (2003). Param Vir : our heroes in battle (1st ed.). New Delhi: Lotus Collection. ISBN 9788174362629.
  • Thapliyal, B.C. Chakravorty ; edited by U.P. (1995). Stories of heroism. New Delhi: Allied Publishers. ISBN 978-81-7023-516-3.

Further readingEdit

  • 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