Service No : 4061833Y

Date of Birth : June 1, 1961

Place of birth : Tehri Garh(U khand)

Service : Army

Last Rank : Rifleman

Unit : 5 Garh Rif

Arm/Regt : The Garhwal Rifles

Operation : Op Pawan

Awards : Vir Chakra

Martyrdom : May 24, 1988

Rifleman Kuldip Singh Bhandari VrC

Rifleman Kuldip Singh Bhandari hailed from Aleru Village in Thauldhar Block of Tehri Garhwal district in Uttarakhand and was born on 01 Jun 1961. Son of Shri Mahendra Singh Bhandari and Smt Pingala Devi, Rfn Kuldip Singh joined the Army in the year 1981 at the age of 20 years. He was recruited into the 5 Garhwal Rifles of the famed Garhwal Rifles Regiment, one of the most decorated regiments in the Indian army.


By 1988, Rfn Kuldip Singh had served in the Army for nearly seven years and had developed into a dedicated and professionally competent soldier. By then he had served in various operational areas and honed his field-craft skills to take on any eventuality in an operational environment. During 1988, Rfn Kuldip Singh's unit was deployed as a part of the IPKF in Sri Lanka. 


Sri Lankan Operations(Op Pawan): 24 May 1988


During May 1988, Rfn Kuldip Singh's unit 5 Garh Rif was deployed in Sri Lanka as part of IPKF that was sent in 1987. Pursuant to the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord, Indian forces were inducted into Sri Lanka in August 1987 to disarm various militant groups that were disrupting peace in the land. The dreaded LTTE—known for its guerrilla warfare—refused to disarm and attacked the IPKF, forcing the IPKF to launch several combat operations to quell the militants. The IPKF launched the operation, code-named “Op Pawan” with a mandate to neutralize the operational capability of the LTTE in and around Jaffna. The aim was to render the rebel movement directionless in the face of the impending assault on the LTTE strongholds by the IPKF. Initially, only 54 division of the Army was inducted but the escalation of the operations brought three more divisions 3, 4, and 57 into the conflict. By May 1988, Indian forces had undertaken numerous operations against LTTE but the war was far from over.  Rfn Kuldip Singh’s unit, 5 Garh Rif, was involved in Op Pawan and was tasked with one such operation on 24 May 1988.


Based on the information received from intelligence sources about the location of a militant hideout, the security forces decided to launch a search and destroy operation on 23 May 1988. As the troops of 11 Garh Rif suffered casualties in the operation, soldiers of 5 Grah Rif were sent as reinforcement and Rfn Kuldip Singh was one of them. He joined the operation as Light Machine gunner number one and was tasked to search and sweep the area in jungles south of Alampil in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka, where a huge militant hideout had been located the previous day. His section came under heavy fire from the militants and as a result, light machine gunner number 2 got fatally wounded and in the absence of his comrade, Rfn Kuldip Singh kept engaging the militants for quite some time. Finding a few more of his colleagues injured and lying around him, he realized the gravity of the situation, and despite the intense volume of militant fire, Rfn Kuldip Singh lifted his comrade on his back and helped one more colleague of his to evacuate them to his platoon Headquarters. After that, he came back to his position and found that the militants' fire had become more intense from his right. He immediately changed his position and started engaging the militants' position. Owing to his daring action, Rfn Kuldip Singh could be easily singled out by the militants and ultimately became the target of their burst fire which pierced his head. Rifleman Kuldip Singh soon succumbed to his injuries and was martyred. Rfn Kuldip Singh was a brave and committed soldier, who laid down his life at the age of 27 years in the service of the nation. Rfn Kuldip Singh Bhandari was awarded “Vir Chakra”, for his exceptional courage, unyielding fighting spirit, and supreme sacrifice during the operation.


Rfn Kuldip Singh Bhandari is survived by his mother Smt Pingala Devi.

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