Rankoti recalls Capt CN Singh’s feat
Garhwal Rifles played a significant role in the 1965 war with Pakistan. The battalion personnel like those of other regiments have made the supreme sacrifice of their lives in the line of duty. 2nd Garhwal Rifles had proud privilege of playing a decisive role in dislodging Pakistan forces and recapturing an Indian post under Operation Hill.
Honorary Capt Ram Prasad Ranakoti, 76, of 'Superb Second' was one such brave soldier who fought the Pakistan intruders and troops in the Jammu and Kashmir sector. He was recruited at the age of 20 as Rifleman in 2nd Garhwal Rifles at a recruitment rally held at the Garhwal Rifles Regimental Centre at Lansdowne on November 16, 1960. He retired as Honorary Capt in 1992 after putting in 32 years of active service.
Hony Capt Ranakoti recalling the contribution of 2nd Garhwal Rifles to the war says on August 5 the battalion was ordered to search for a group of Pakistan intruders in the vicinity of the Galuthi area in Jammu and Kashmir. Commanding Officer of the battalion Lt Col Ujjagar Singh was a bright and brave commander. Capt Chandra Narayan Singh attached with Headquarters 120 Infantry Brigade was tasked with accomplishing the task. He made an elaborate plan and during the search operation we encountered heavy machine gun and mortar fire. He instantly knew the enemy had superior numerical strength and took the bold decision to launch a night attack. We were a handful of men and Capt CN Singh led us in the face of grenade bursts and heavy mortar fire. He was killed by a machine gun burst within 10 yards of the enemy post.
Hony Capt Ranakoti says in the action 40 enemy soldiers were killed and many injured. The enemy left behind considerable quantities of arms, ammunition and equipment. Throughout this operation, Capt CN Singh displayed exemplary courage and made the supreme sacrifice of his life. He was posthumously awarded Mahavir Chakra.
This attack was termed the first offensive attack by the Indian Army. In the attack, Capt CN Singh, and Rifleman Pushkar Singh made the supreme sacrifice of their lives, and were awarded with Mahavir Chakra, and Sena Medal, respectively.
After seeing the splendid performance of 2nd Garhwal Rifles under the leadership of Commanding Officer Lt Col Ujjagar Singh, the battalion was assigned the task of capturing India’s own post under Operation Hill.
Hony Capt Ranakoti said the battalion was merged with 5 Sikh Light Infantry, 2nd Dogra, and 7 Sikh Regiment stationed at Mahindra in Jammu and Kashimir. An offensive was launched and the post was recaptured.
The second battalion of the Garhwal Rifles is now over 100 years old. The battalion was raised by Lt Col JT Evatton on March 1, 1901, at Lansdowne. Soon after raising, the battalion got on to the business of training and achieved the desired field service efficiency. Besides training, troops also had to build their own barracks, known till date as Evatt Lines at Lansdowne, which is a testimony to the solid foundation of the battalion.
On August 4, 1914, the Great War broke out. The battalion, which was at Lansdowne at its permanent station in India, was mobilised and it set sail to France through Karachi. The war saw many heroic deeds of the battalion. Late Rifleman Gabar Singh Negi won the coveted Victoria Cross. The battalion won the battle honour Neuve Chappelle and also established itself as a fighting force to reckon with during the battles in Mesopotamia and Turkey. The battalion bagged 1 Victoria Cross, 5 CMGs, 10 DSOs, 10 IDMs, 12 IDSMs and 1 Russian Cross of St George.