Service No: IC-8497

Date of Birth : Nov 29, 1935

Birth Place: Gurdaspur, Punjab

Service: Army

Last Rank: Captain

Service Years: 1957–1961

Unit : 3/1 Gorkha Rifles

Arm/Regt : 1 Gorkha Rifles

Operation: Congo Ops

Awards: Param Vir Chakra

Date of Martyrdom : Dec 5, 1961

Captain Gurbachan Singh Salaria PVC

Capt Gurbachan Singh Salaria was born on 29th Nov 1935 in Jamwal village near Shakargarh( erstwhile united Punjab) and subsequently his family moved to Jangal village in Gudaspur district of Punjab. Son of Sri Munshi Ram and Smt Dhan Devi, he joined the illustrious King George Royal Indian Military College (Now known as Rashtriya Military School) Bangalore in 1946 and later moved to the King George Royal Military College Jalandhar (Now Rashtriya Military School  Chail in Himachal Pradesh). Capt Gurbachan then went on to join the 9th batch of National Defence Academy at Khadakwasla and subsequently the Indian Military Academy. IN 1957, he was commissioned into 1 Gorkha Rifles, an infantry regiment known for its fearless soldiers and numerous battle exploits.

 

Capt Gurbachan Singh Salaria was part of the Indian contingent for the UN operation in Congo. The UN operation in Congo lasted from July 1960 to June 1964. The objectives of the operation included ensuring the withdrawal of Belgian forces, preventing civil war and removing all foreign military personnel not under UN command and all mercenaries. India sent 99 Infantry Brigade for the operation in March 1961 and Capt Gurbachan Singh Salaria’s unit, 3/1 Gorkha Rifles was part of that brigade.

 

Congo Ops: 05 Dec 1961

 

During Dec 1961, Capt Salaria’s unit, 3/1Gorkha Rifles was deployed in Elizabethville in Katanga province, the Headquarters of UN Command. It was located in the conflict ridden south eastern part of the country. On 5th Dec 1961, Capt Salaria was tasked for a challenging mission of removing roadblocks set up by the rebels near the airfield. Capt Salaria with a small force of 16 soldiers, supported by a 3-inch mortar, attacked the enemy roadblock near Elizabethville airfield and established a UN roadblock there. However, Capt Salaria and his platoon met strong opposition from a large number of rebels armed with automatic weapons and armoured carriers. The rebel force consisted of 90 heavily armed men and two armoured carriers.

 

Despite a numerically superior enemy Capt Salaria decided to take them head on and launched a deadly assault leading his men with the Gorkha cry, ” Jai Mahakali, Ayo Gorkhali” meaning “Victory to Mahakali, Gorkhas are here”. He moved on the battlefield exemplifying the motto of his regiment, which says, “Kafir hunu bhanda marnu ramro” meaning “It is better to die than to be a coward”.  Capt Salaria was like a man possessed and his naked courage came to the fore during the operation. He attacked the rebels ferociously and eliminated many of them quickly in close combat. However during the heavy exchange of fire he got a burst of automatic fire into his neck and fell down. He later succumbed to his injuries and was martyred. The entire rebel force soon got disintegrated owing to the sustained assault by Capt Salaria and his comrades.

 

Capt Gurbachan Singh Salaria was given the nation’s highest gallantry award, “Param Vir Chakra” for his cold courage, unfaltering leadership and supreme sacrifice. He became the first and the only recipient of this coveted award given to a soldier in an UN operation.

The citation for the Param Vir Chakra awarded to him reads:

 

On 5 December 1961, 3/1 Gorkha Rifles was ordered to clear a roadblock established by the gendarmerie at a strategic roundabout at Elizabethville, Katanga. The plan was that one company with 2 Swedish armored cars would attack the position frontally and Captain Gurbachan Singh Salaria with two sections of Gorkhas and two Swedish armored personnel carriers would advance towards this roadblock from the airfield to act as a cutting-off force.

 

Captain Salaria with his small force arrived at a distance of 1500 yards from the roadblock at approximately 1312 hours on 5 December 1961 and came under heavy automatic and small-arms fire from an undetected enemy position dug in on his right flank. The enemy also had two armored cars and about 90 men opposing Captain Salaria’s small force.

 

Captain Salaria appreciating that he had run into a subsidiary roadblock and ambush and that this enemy force might reinforce the strategic roundabout and thus jeopardize the main operation, decided to remove this opposition. He led a charge with bayonets, khukris, and grenades supported by a rocket launcher. In this gallant engagement, Captain Salaria killed 40 of the enemy and knocked out the two armored cars. This unexpected bold action completely demoralized the enemy who fled despite their numerical superiority and protected positions.

 

Captain Salaria was wounded in his neck by a burst of automatic fire but continued to fight till he collapsed due to profuse bleeding. Captain Salaria’s gallant action prevented any enemy movement of the enemy force towards the main battle scene and thus contributed very largely to the success of the main battalion’s action at the roundabout and prevented the encirclement of UN Headquarters in Elizabethville. Captain Salaria subsequently died of his wounds.

 

Captain Salaria’s personal example, utter disregard for personal safety, and dauntless leadership inspired his small but gallant force of 16 Gorkhas to hold on to their position, dominate the enemy and inflict heavy casualties despite the enemy’s superiority in numbers and tactical position. Captain Salaria’s leadership, courage, and unflinching devotion to duty and disregard for personal safety were in the best traditions of our Army.

  • The Shipping Corporation of India Ltd (SCI), named fifteen of her Crude Oil Tankers in honour of the Param Vir Chakra recipients. The crude oil tanker named  “Capt. Gurbachan Singh Salaria, PVC” was delivered to SCI on 26-10-1984.
  • The courageous story of Capt Salaria was immortalized in the 1988 television serial, “Param Vir Chakra” by Chetan Anand. His role was essayed by the actor Brando Bakshi.
  • A square in NDA has been named as “Salaria Square” in his honour.
  • A stadium and a park have been set up by 14 Gurkha Training Centre at Subathu in Himachal Pradesh as a tribute to Capt Salaria.
  • The Army Postal Service issued a special cover on 05 Dec 1992 to honour him.
  • Maj Gen RP Singh who was battalion adjutant during that operation recalled  Salaria showing him his own right hand and saying , ‘Wait and see, this star will take me to great heights’. ‘I did not know that his day of reckoning and attaining fame was just a few days away. Or that he would never know of this fame since it would come when he was in his heavenly abode’.
  • His brother Sukhdev who lives in Pathankot and is bedridden recounts, ‘We had no worries then; we would splash around in the stream. What beautiful days they were. Now Gurbachan is gone and I can’t walk, but whenever I think of him that is the first memory that streams into my head’.
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  • http://twdi.in http://www.newindianexpress.com
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9 Comments
  • janakiraman

    2017at3:22 pm Reply

    It was indeed a heroic effort by Capt Salaria. The country will always remember this great sacrifice.

  • Glorie

    2017at1:06 pm Reply

    I salute your heroism and sacrifice. We shall forever remain indebted to you for your service to the nation. Jai Hind

  • Mukesh kumar singh

    2017at2:03 pm Reply

    A bravery hero of India always memorable

  • Valsan Kunnath

    2017at3:14 pm Reply

    Big Salute to the Brave Son of Bharath Captain Gurbachan Singh Salaria, Param Vir Chakra
    “Duty beyond Death” “Soldiers go beyond call of Duty”
    You will always be Saluted for your Patriotism,Indomitable Courage and Supreme Sacrifice to the Motherland.
    INDIAN FLAG WILL ALWAYS FLY HIGH
    JAI HIND….VANDE MATHARAM

  • Rajesh salaria

    2021at9:34 am Reply

    Sir / madam
    I belong to near village from captain gurubachan singh salaria . In Wikipedia show salaria was saini and Sikhism. …. But we are dogra rajput …… Saini salaria are other …… But in punjab salaria are chandervanshi rajput…… We belong to Hinduism ….. This miss understanding create problem to each caste.. please take action as soon as possible …. We are dogra rajput and we belong to hindu ….. That’s all

    • Nikhil Guleria

      2022at12:50 pm

      Yes sir ,even MP candidate from gurdaspur from BJP for By election Swaran Singh Salaria belong to rajput ,their are many villages of salaria rajputs in pathankot ,i have many relatives at that place ,and one is from the same village of Gurbachan salaria,they are hindu rajputs ,i dont know how can a person do such a blunder mistake of calling him saini ,even in many rajput events their family are honoured and they are proud to belong to rajput family ,i hope they correct their mistake in wikipedia

    • Popin singh

      2022at1:10 pm

      Please give us your contact Number

    • Saini Abhi

      2023at7:52 am

      But saini also a rajput community…saini community belongs to chandrvanshi kashtriyas ..salaria gotra king data Sher Singh salaria represents saini community in jammu

  • ANAND SAN

    2022at9:01 pm Reply

    He WAS THE HERO OF PAST TOMORROW AMD FUTURE.( I DIDN’T GIVE COMMA BECAUSE HE NEEDS NOT TO BE COMMA NOW)

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