Dewan rai

Service No: IC-12

Date of Birth: 06 Feb 1913

Place of Birth : Gujranwala(Pun)

Service: Army

Last Rank : Lieutenant Colonel

Last Unit : 1 Sikh

Arm/Regt : The Sikh Regiment

Operation: J&K Ops

Date of Martyrdom : 27 Oct 1947

Lt Col Dewan Ranjit Rai MVC

Lieutenant Colonel Dewan Ranjit Rai was born in Gujranwala in present day Pakistan on 6th February 1913. He completed his schooling from Bishop Cotton School at Shimla and later attended the first course at the prestigious Indian Military Academy, Dehra Dun. He was commissioned on 1st February 1935 at the age of 22 years and was attached to British Army regiment for a year. Subsequently he was posted to the 5th battalion of 11 Sikh Regiment on the 24 February 1936. By 1944, he had been promoted to the rank of acting Major. Later in the year 1947, he was selected for posting as Military Attaché to USA but as the Indo-Pak war broke out, he was selected to lead a mission to Kashmir.


Indo-Pak war : Oct 1947 


During Oct 1947, Lt Col Dewan Ranjit Rai was commanding the 1st battalion of Sikh Regiment in Gurgaon and was busy making arrangements for the refugees, when Kashmir was invaded by Pakistan. On 27 October 1947, Lt Col Ranjit Rai along with his C and D companies took off in IAF Dakotas from Delhi on a mission to save the town of Srinagar and it’s airfield from falling into the hands of Tribal Lashkars. This invasion of J and K was under the overall command of Maj Gen Akbar Khan of Pak army and had been code named, ‘General Tariq.’  Lt Col Ranjit Rai and his two companies landed at Srinagar at 9.30 am on 27 Oct and swung into action after initial assessment of the situation.


Lt Col Ranjit Rai dispatched C company under Capt Kamaljit Singh to Baramulla to defend that town.  D company under Maj Harwant Singh was sent to Srinagar to carry out a flag march to restore order and confidence amongst the population. He himself decided to stay on at the airfield and await the arrival of his remaining two companies and take them to Baramulla. Capt Capt Kamaljit on approaching Baramulla, realized that it had fallen to the invaders and decided to take up defences at Mile 32; a few miles short of Baramulla. Maj Harwant Singh after the flag march in Srinagar, left one platoon for the protection of the bridge over Jhelum at Sopore ( 7 miles East of Srinagar ) and another platoon for the defence of the airfield. He along with one platoon then joined C Company at mile 32 at 4.30am on 28 Oct. The total strength of about 140 to 150 men at Mile 32 was still too less to face thousands of invaders.


Lt Col Ranjit Rai  had no communications with his troops because the aircraft carrying the communication equipment had developed a snag and had en-route force landed at Jammu. When his two other companies did not arrive on the morning of Oct 28, he decided to move forward and join his troops at Mile 32 leaving instructions with the adjutant that as soon as the remaining two companies land these be sent forward without delay. Around 11.30 AM, the enemy, a few thousand invaders supported by heavy machine guns and 3 inch mortars attacked the position at Mile 32. This attack was successfully repulsed and when the enemy realized that that it could not dislodge Lt Col Ranjit Rai and his men, it decided to outflank them with a view to cut them off from the rear.


When the remaining two companies did not arrive and the situation at Mile 32 became untenable, Lt Col Ranjit Rai decided to withdraw his troops from Mile 32. However by then the withdrawal route was nearly cut off by the enemy. It was during this very difficult task of extricating his troops from the enemy cordon that Lt Col Ranjit Rai fell to an enemy bullet. Lt Col Ranjit Rai was gallant soldier and a fine officer who led from the front and proved to be an inspirational commanding officer. He was given the nation’s second highest gallantry award, “Maha Vir Chakra” for his outstanding leadership, fighting spirit and supreme sacrifice. He became independent India’s first officer to receive the Maha Vir Chakra (posthumously).

The citation of Maha Vir Chakra awarded to him reads:

Lieutenant Colonel Dewan Ranjit Rai was the Commanding Officer of 1 Sikh. Immediately on landing at Srinagar, on 27 October 1947, he appreciated that it was imperative to hold and oppose the raiders as far away as possible from the vital city of Srinagar and its adjacent airfield. As very little time was at his disposal, he personally conducted reconnaissance and operations at such personal risk that he was eventually killed. By his complete disregard of personal danger and his determined and inspired leadership, the raiders were stopped sufficiently far away to enable a build-up for the eventual decisive defeat.


The officer gave his life in a successful endeavour to save Srinagar by displaying courage of the highest order.

Profile Maintenance

This profile is currently being maintained by However, we would invite the family members, unit/formation or former colleagues of this brave soldier to contribute additional information and maintain this memorial site as well, thereby assisting us in our endeavour to spread awareness about this great Indian and inspire future generations.

  • If you find any information that is incorrect or inappropriate or have additional information about the soldier that can be added to his memorial site, please contact us by using the tab given below.

Honourpoint.intakes utmost precaution towards factual correctness of the uploaded data and makes sure that the data is from a credible source. However, we do not take responsibility for authenticity of the content and Honourpoint.inor any of its members cannot be held responsible for any misappropriation of the uploaded content.


    2019 at 12:30 pm Reply

    The great solider, who fought and sacrificed his life immediately after independence. We should always remember the first martyr post independence.

  • Sutapa Maity

    2021 at 7:37 pm Reply

    Great salute and regards for great soldier, who was fighting outstanding leadership and he became independent India ‘s first officer to receive the Maha Vir Chakra.

  • Capt B K Aiyer ( Retd ) , 37 Coorg Regt .

    2022 at 4:37 pm Reply

    When we have such Great War Heroes like Col Rai MVC , we must not throw away these ranks to Sports Persons / Film stars who can honoured in different ways . As per our constitution, military ranks are Titles which the holder can carry to his graves . The practice of honouring our national sports persons / film stars / by giving them military ranks must STOP. Those given already must be withdrawn forthwith .

  • Col NN Bhatia (Retd)

    2022 at 6:31 pm Reply

    ‘The Infantry Day’
    On 27 Oct 1947 my uncle late Group Captain (then Wing Cdr) KL Bhatia, VrC landed the first military aircraft in Srinagar carrying the first Indian troops into combat in Independent India. The Dakota carried IC -12 Lt Col Diwan Ranjit Rai CO 1 Sikh with 20 jawans synonymous to a weak platoon. The same evening Lt Col Diwan Ranjit Rai was martyred on 27 Oct 1947 leading his men and defending Pattan outnumbered by the overwhelming strength of Pak-sponsored invaders. He was the first officer of the Indian Army after independence to fight a battle on 27 Oct 1947 and was martyred and awarded the first MVC of India while my uncle was awarded VrC. Ever since this day is e celebrated as ‘The Infantry Day’. Over the years 12 Squadron the IAF and 1 Sikh have become affiliated with each other. That is the reason, why my cousin Mr. Ranjeet Bhatia s/o legendary my legendary maternal uncle late Group Captain KL Bhatia, VrC is so often invited by the infantry regiments and formation headquarters and 12 Squadron IAF for the Infantry Day as a special guest.
    So, this day has a unique significance for the Nation, as it was on this day in 1947 that Infantry-men from the Indian Army became the first troops to land at Srinagar airport, an act which turned back the invaders from the outskirts of Srinagar and saved the state of Jammu and Kashmir from a Pakistan backed tribal invaders & became ‘THE INFANTRY DAY’ as a matter of GREAT pride.

Post a Comment