Lieutenant General Sagat Singh was born in Bikaner on 12 July 1919. Let us all salute him on his centennial year.
He was a corner stone of the victory of two nations in 1971 and was a dutiful child of his motherland. In the Liberation War in 1971, he marched through a land ravaged by war—a land whose citizens were brutally murdered, tortured and raped by the Pakistan military. And through his brilliant wartime exploits, especially the famous crossing of the Meghna River, he helped achieve a miraculous victory in 13 days and the consequent surrender of the Pakistan Forces. And so he became a legend, a legend which many aspire to be but few achieve.
Let history so state that he delivered the goal and so a part of that history must be devoted to him. He worked relentlessly in 1971, the year of the storm for a people who were living under the shadow of the sword. He was a wisdom house. Everyone has a summit to conquer in his or her life, and he conquered his summit in 1971.He was known to have been a forward thinking person and had the power of positive thinking. People admired him for his wit, his ebullience, his camaraderie and most of all, his loyalty to the nation. His actions spoke more than his words.History reserves very less space for the soldier after the war is over. People who fought side by side with him should fight the silence; write about 1971 Liberation War − the period we love. 1971 was remarkable but not well documented. It seems he was born for 1971. He had an inborn talent for war and his life is the story of a fine soldier and a hero, who distinguished himself in combat on every occasion he was put to the test. His pinnacle was achieved when, rising from the ranks of state force, he ultimately led his troops of IV Corps to decisive historical victory.
Bangladesh took the decision of honouring the hero of Liberation War by awarding him posthumously with Friends of Liberation War Honour on 24 March 2013 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. His next of kin received the honour. His citation reads:
During the Liberation War, Lieutenant General Sagat Singh was the commander of IV Corps of Indian Army. His Corps rapidly defeated and captured Pakistani defenses and made the famous advance to Dhaka crossing the Meghna River only in 13 days and created history. On 16 December 1971, he entered Dhaka and witnessed the signing of the surrender by Lieutenant General A A K Niazi. For his leadership quality, the Indian Government honoured him with the Padma Bhushan award. For his great contribution in the Liberation War, Lieutenant General Sagat Singh PVSM, Padma Bhushan is awarded Friends of Liberation War Honour (Posthumously).
General Sagat Singh retired in November 1974 and died on 26 September 2001 and was cremated in Jaipur with the final trumpet sounding the sad tune. The city of Jaipur honoured him by naming a prominent road after his name—a fitting tribute to a great soldier by the Government and people of Rajasthan.
The writer is a Freedom Fighter, recipient of Swadhinata Padak and a researcher on Liberation War.