Captain Salaria – The Only UN Peacekeeper To Receive PVC
This post is dedicated to one of the many brave officers of our armed forces who serve the nation selflessly. In this post, we will talk about captain Gurbachan Singh Salaria. After going through the post, you will have a clear picture of his deed and tale of bravery.
So let's begin
- Captain Gurbachan Singh Salaria, PVC (29 November 1935 – 5 December 1961) was an Indian Army officer and member of a United Nations peacekeeping force.
- He is the only UN peacekeeper to receive the Param Vir Chakra (PVC), India's highest wartime military decoration.
- Tale of his father who was in Dogra Squadron of the Hodson's Horse in the British Indian Army motivated him to join the forces at a very tender age.
- He studied at King George's Royal Military College (KGRMC) and after passing out he joined the Joint Services Wing of the National Defence Academy (NDA).
- After graduating from NDA, he got into IMA and was initially commissioned into the 2nd battalion, 3 Gorkha Rifles, but was later transferred to the 3rd battalion, 1 Gorkha Rifles in March 1960.
- The Congo Crisis
- In June 1960, the Republic of the Congo became independent from Belgium, but mutiny broke out between black and white civilians.
- Belgium sent troops to protect people from fleeing, and The Congolese government asked the United Nations (UN) for help.
- Under the command of Brigadier K. A. S. Raja, India contributed the 99th Infantry Brigade, around 3,000 men, to the UN force.
- On 5 December 1961, the 3rd battalion, 1 Gorkha Rifles was tasked to clear the roadblock.
- Operation Unokat
- Captain Salaria and his troops reached the specified location with their armoured personnel carriers.
- They were positioned around 1,500 yards (1,400 m) from the target. His rocket launcher team was soon able to get close enough to the gendarmes' armoured cars to destroy them.
- This unexpected move left the Katangese confused and disorganised. Salaria felt that it was prudent to attack before the gendarmes reorganised.
- His last words over the radio to another officer were, "I am going in for the attack. I am certain I will win."
- Though his troops were severely outnumbered, they charged towards the Katangese and killed 40 men in a kukri assault.
- During the attack, Salaria was shot twice in the neck and eventually succumbed to his injuries. The remaining gendarmes fled in utter confusion leaving their dead and wounded behind.
- This helped the main battalion to overrun the Katangese and clear the roadblock easily. For his duty and courage, and disregard for his safety during the battle, Salaria was awarded the Param Vir Chakra.
- S. Salaria's statue is erected at Param Yodha Sthal, National War Memorial, New Delhi.
This tale of bravery fills our heart with proud and ignites the motivation to join the armed forces.
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