ARJAN SINGH – THE IMMORTAL HERO
RTIwala Explains everything about DFC Arjan Singh in this report, how the sole Marshal of the Indian Air Force, Arjan Singh, was born on April 15, 1919, in Lyallpur (now in Pakistan) in a family of soldiers. He joined the nascent IAF in 1938 after completing his education from the Government College at Lahore. He had the honor of serving as Chief of the Air Staff from 1964 to 1969. For his distinguished service in commanding the Indian Air Force during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan and in 1966 became the first IAF officer to be promoted to Marshal of the Air Force.
He passed away at the Army’s Research and Referral Hospital on 16 September, Saturday evening, hours after he had been admitted there following a cardiac arrest. He was 98.
An officer who shaped the IAF in its early years as well as during some of its most difficult junctures, Arjan Singh had the honor of leading the fly-past of more than a hundred IAF aircraft over the Red Fort on India’s first Independence Day, August 15, 1947.
The Achievements of India’s Marshal of Air Force: Arjan Singh
In 2002, on the occasion of Republic Day, he was granted the honorary rank of Marshal, the highest military rank attainable, which before him only two Army chiefs, K M Carriappa and Sam Manekshaw, had achieved. He was a man of his words and believed in action. He was an epitome of military leadership. Even if the times were really difficult, his combat skills were a great rescue. The highlights of his early career were the two operational tenures on the Burma.
During the Second World War first, he was a Pilot Officer with Tigers Squadron. And with the passage of time, he was the Commander of the same Squadron. As a consummate Squadron Commander, flying Hurricane fighters in defense of Imphal in 1944, besieged by the Japanese, he had displayed masterly leadership. In an unprecedented step, the then Supreme Allied Commander of the South East Asian Command, Lord Mountbatten, had personally awarded him the Distinguished Flying Cross on the battlefield for his leadership and performance in defeating the Japanese.
Arjan Singh held many important posts in the IAF before taking over as Air Marshal in August 1964. Arjan Singh continued to believe that the 1965 War ended in a stalemate despite India being in an advantageous position. “When the talk about ceasefire started, I had advised Shastriji (Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri), who was under enormous international pressure, against accepting it,” he later recounted. “On the other hand, Pakistan was losing its plane at a fast rate and was keen on accepting the ceasefire. However, because of international pressure and other considerations, India agreed to the ceasefire.” He believed that if they had been given more time, Pakistan would have eloped from the world map.
In the next weeks though, the IAF had established its air superiority, with deep-penetration attacks against enemy targets, including the farthest Pakistani airfields like Peshawar and Mauripur.
For his meritorious services during the 1965 Indo-Pak War, Arjan Singh was honored with the Padma Vibhushan. On January 15, 1966, he became the first officer of the IAF to be promoted to the rank of Air Chief Marshal, at par with a General.
He continued to serve the country in various capacities even after retirement in July 1969. In 1971, he was made India’s Ambassador to Switzerland and in 1974, the High Commissioner to Kenya. He also served as a member of the Minorities Commission and as the Lt Governor of Delhi.
The Final Journey of Shri Arjan Singh, DFC
And today, 18 of September, Marshal of the Indian Air Force, Arjan Singh’s body, was wrapped in the Indian tricolor. The body was taken from his home to the Delhi Cantonment in a gun carriage decorated with marigold flowers. Along with an Airforce band and a tri-service contingent at the funeral site.
Marshal Arjan Singh shall be remembered with awe and respect for is inexplicable leadership capabilities. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who visited Arjan Singh in hospital on Saturday, mourned his death. “We remember his outstanding service to the nation,” he said.
President Ram Nath Kovind mourned: “Sad at the demise of a great air warrior and Marshal of the Air Force Arjan Singh. Condolences to his family and IAF community.”
Rajnath Singh said: “My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family members of Shri Arjan Singh. May God give them strength to bear this colossal loss. Marshal of the IAF, Arjan Singh lived his life like a soldier. The tales of his courage will remain immortal. Deeply pained at his demise.”
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh: “Saddened by the demise of Marshal of the Indian Air Force Arjan Singh Ji. My prayers and condolences are with the bereaved family. Marshal Arjan Singh’s role in WWII & 1965 war will always remain etched in history in golden letters.”
Captain Amarinder Singh declared three-day-mourning in Punjab as a mark of respect to the Marshal.
But we truly believe that his bravery would guide us and his well-led life has made him an immortal hero. He was a true soldier. And we pray that may his soul rest in peace.
(With Inputs from Gehna Kundra)
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