Full-fledged war was still a few weeks away but clashes had begun taking place between India and Pakistan along the eastern border in the run-up to the 1971 Indo-Pak War that led to the creation of Bangladesh. Major Daljit Singh Narang emerged as a key player in the initial days that saw India gain the upper hand and demoralise the enemy.
He would be honoured posthumously with the Maha Vir Chakra, India’s second highest military award.
The Battle of Garibpur
Located just inside the border of what was then East Pakistan, Garibpur was on an important highway leading from India to Jessore. In mid-November, an infantry battalion of the Indian Army moved in to occupy the area in order to pre-empt and prevent enemy raids into Indian territory.
They were assisted by the C squadron of 45 Cavalry headed by Maj Daljit Singh Narang that comprised 14 PT-76 tanks. But they faced an attack by two enemy battalions supported by M24 Chaffees.
Major Daljit Singh Narang skillfully and boldly manoeuvred his squadron, catching the enemy tanks by surprise and destroying many of them.
Standing On The Gun Turret
”With utter disregard for his personal safety and undeterred by heavy enemy fire, he directed the fire of his squadron standing on the turret of his tank,” says the citation for the Maha Vir Chakra awarded to him.
When one of the tanks of his squadron was hit, he immediately, at immense risk to himself, rushed to assist its crew in pulling out, returned to his own tank and continued to direct his squadron effectively, it points out.
His courage and fearlessness so inspired his command that they successfully decimated the enemy squadron
– MVC Citation
By the time the Pakistanis realised what was happening, 11 of their tanks had been destroyed; three others were abandoned. The Indian side was reported to have lost only three tanks.
Early Life And Career
Daljit Singh Narang was born on 20 May 1935 in Peshawar, Pakistan.
He was 21 years old when he joined the Indian Army in December 1956. He was commissioned in 45 Cavalry, an Armoured Regiment of the Armoured Corps.
Vir Chakra Awardees
Three soldiers of the Indian Army were awarded the Vir Chakra for display of gallantry in the same sector on the same day.
“21 November 1971. During the 1971 War, these soldiers were deployed in the Eastern Sector. They displayed great resilience, battle skill and courage in fighting the enemy with determination…” the Indian Army said on Twitter.
21 November 1971. During the 1971 War, these soldiers were deployed in the Eastern Sector. They displayed great resilience, battle skill and courage in fighting the enemy with determination. For unprecedented gallantry, awarded #VirChakra @PIB_India @SpokespersonMoD pic.twitter.com/zpFFHEm4ty
— ADG PI – INDIAN ARMY (@adgpi) November 21, 2018