Major Shaitan Singh, PVC (Param Vir Chakra) was an Indian Army officer, who was awarded Param Vir Chakra, the highest wartime gallantry medal, posthumously, for his leadership and courage during the Sino-Indian War of 1962.
In 1962, India and China clashed. actually, the Chinese attacked and we defended ourselves. The 13 Kumaon was posted at Rezang La, Ladakh, a crucial place as it had a landing strip, open in all weather. At a height of 5000 meters. (Which is a damnably high altitude where mere breathing becomes a feat) 3 Platoon positions defended this area…and there were 123 soldiers in all.
The Chinese attacked on the 18th November morning, number 7 and number 8 platoons were the ones who bore the brunt of the attack…there were no survivors in No 7 platoon, all the soldiers died fighting, some of them jumped in the trenches to fight hand to hand combat with the oncoming Chinese. Number 8 platoon fought to the last round (they were down to their last ammunition, the last bullet)
Major Shaitan Singh moved from one platoon to another under intense firing and shelling…he did so to direct his men and to encourage them. An officer has a certain number of men directly under his command. A hero officer will inspire his men to fight like demons. the Indian soldiers were outnumbered 1 to 5 but when they saw their leader fight fearlessly and lead the charge, they followed. Shaitan Singh was wounded but he kept fighting. Finally, he was being carried away by 2 of his men and he realized that the enemy was concentrating their fire on him and his bearers. He asked them to leave him and to get to safety.
He breathed his last, alone in the open behind a boulder from his wounds, and in the biting cold. He was 37 years old.
Around a 1000 Chinese were killed and wounded.
On 21 Nov, the Chinese declared ceasefire….they stopped fighting!
108 Indian soldiers died out of a total of 123 and a further 9 were severely injured.
The citation for the Param Vir Chakra awarded to him reads:
Major Shaitan Singh was commanding a company of an infantry battalion deployed at Rezang La in the Chusul sector at a height of about 17,000 feet. The locality was isolated from the main defended sector and consisted of five platoon-defended positions.
On 18 November 1962, the Chinese forces subjected the company position to heavy artillery, mortar, and small arms fire and attacked it in overwhelming strength in several successive waves. Against heavy odds, our troops beat back successive waves of enemy attack. During the action, Major Shaitan Singh dominated the scene of operations and moved at great personal risk from one platoon post to another sustaining the morale of his hard-pressed platoon posts. While doing so he was seriously wounded but continued to encourage and lead his men, who, following his brave example fought gallantly and inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy. For every man lost to us, the enemy lost four or five. When Major Shaitan Singh fell disabled by wounds in his arms and abdomen, his men tried to evacuate him but they came under heavy machine-gun fire. Major Shaitan Singh then ordered his men to leave him to his fate in order to save their lives.
Major Shaitan Singh’s supreme courage, leadership and exemplary devotion to duty inspired his company to fight almost to the last man.
We at Indian Special Forces salute you Major Shaitan Singh for your courageous act and for your service to this nation and its people.