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Basantar Brigade pays tribute to war heroes

Syeda Farida
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Lt. Gen W.A.G.Pinto, GoC of 54 Infantry Division after capture of a location in Pakistan. --PHOTO: by arrangement
Lt. Gen W.A.G.Pinto, GoC of 54 Infantry Division after capture of a location in Pakistan. --PHOTO: by arrangement

The Basantar Brigade in Mehdipatnam gears up to commemorate the 41st anniversary of the historic battle in the annals of Indian history post Independence. On the night of December 16, 1971, the Brigade spearheaded the march of the Indian Army across the Basantar river in Jammu & Kashmir when the Indian position Jarpal in Shakargarh sector was attacked by a Pakistani armoured regiment. Outnumbered but undeterred, the Indian troops emerged victorious in this fierce battle.

Raised on August 1, 1966, at Golconda by Brigadier B.D. Man Singh, the 47 Infantry Brigade glorified itself in many operations. But the formation definitely had the distinction of being baptised by fire in 1971. The day is commemorated every year as Basantar Day by the 47 Infantry Brigade, which was later christened Basantar Brigade after the war.

Solemn reminder

The Basantar Brigade (part of 54 Infantry Division) led the march of the Indian Army into the Shakargarh Bulge. That the Pakistani forces were pitted against the best military outfit of India was proved by the ensuing battle.

Lt. Gen W.A.G.Pinto, the General Officer Commanding of the 54 Infantry Division, who led the troops to victory, revisited the war in his book Bash on Regardless . The battle resulted in the capture of a significant area under the control of Pakistan in Chhamb sector, apart from cutting off the line of retreat for Pakistani troops. Of the 142 Pakistani tanks destroyed in the Western front during the 1971 war, 42 were accounted for in the Battle of Basantar.

The war memorial located in the Basantar Brigade at Mehdipatnam stands as a solemn reminder of the soldiers who laid down their lives and displayed indomitable fighting spirit.

Exemplary bravery

Even after his tank was aflame and he was grievously injured Second Lt. Arun Khetarpal denied the breakthrough that the Pakistani Army was aiming at. He laid down his life fighting and was awarded the Param Vir Chakra (PVC) posthumously.

Seriously wounded by shelling Major Hoshiar Singh did not let this deter him from inflicting heavy casualties on the Pakistani forces, leading by example. He was awarded the Param Vir Chakra for his gallantry and leadership. The formation has glorified itself in numerous operations since then and is regarded as one of the most decorated Brigades of the Indian Army today. Doesn’t the brigade’s motto -- Bash on Regardless -- sum up its fighting spirit?

The Basantar Brigade’s motto – Bash on regardless – exemplifies its fighting spirit

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