Late Major Laishram Jyotin Singh, a doctor of the Army Medical Corps, who died fighting a suicide bomber in Kabul, was conferred the country’s highest peacetime gallantry award, Ashok Chakra, posthumously, at the 62nd Republic Day Parade, on 26 January, 2011. His brother, Dr. Laishram Boeing Singh, received the medal from President Pratibha Patil, at the commencement of the Parade at Rajpath in New Delhi. Born on 14 May 1972, Jyotin was a meritorious student of Manipur Public School. An excellent footballer and body-builder, he chose a career in medicine. Graduating from Regional Institute of Medical Science at Imphal in 1996, he acquired a Post Graduate Diploma in Sports Medicine from the reputed Netaji Subhas National Institute of Sports, Patiala in 2001. Commissioned as a short service officer in February 2003, he was granted a permanent commission in April 2007.
He commenced his career in the Border Roads Organisation in a high altitude area in Arunachal Pradesh. He had then moved to Military Hospital, Agartala where he provided specialist services to the Government Hospital and College. With his expertise in sports medicine, he was inducted in the Fourth Military World games organised by the Indian Armed Forces at Hyderabad in 2007. He also worked for the Commonwealth Youth Games at Pune in 2008. Selected on merit for deputation to the Indian Medical Mission in Kabul, Afghanistan, he was stationed there since 13 February, 2010. Thirteen days after his posting, at 0630 hours on February 26, 2010, the guarded residential compound of Indian Embassy in Kabul, housing six army medical officers, four paramedics and two other Army officers of the English Language Training Team (ELTT) was suddenly attacked by heavily armed and determined terrorist suicide bombers.
A terrorist, after detonating a Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device which killed three security guards, entered the compound to kill survivors. He fired from an AK-47 into the individual rooms and started throwing hand grenades. In the melee, five unarmed officers took shelter in one of the rooms in which a grenade was lobbed and the fire on its roof spread consequently to the bathroom where another group of five officers were sheltered. On hearing shouts of the five officers, Major Laishram Jytoin Singh crawled out from under the debris of his room and unmindful of his own safety, charged with bare hands at the armed terrorist and pinned him down to ensure that he could no longer lob more grenades or direct fire at the officers cornered in a burning room. He continued to grapple with armed terrorist and did not let him go till the terrorist panicked and detonated his suicide vest, resulting in the instantaneous death of Jyotin .
He gave his life for the sake of his colleagues, one of whom unfortunately was still charred to death, and another succumbed to his injuries five days later. His supreme sacrifice saved the lives of two officers, and four paramedics and two Afghan civilians. Jyotin, was the third among four highly accomplished siblings. While his father Laishram Markanda Singh retired in 1997 as a Deputy Director, Department of Agriculture, Government of Manipur, his mother, Ibeyaima Devi, as described by Boeing, is “a great homemaker… despite not being much educated herself, she and our father gave us all the encouragement and support to make us achieve highly in our professions.” Jyotin’s elder sisters, Bina Kumari Devi a doctor and Ragini Devi, a lecturer in mathematics — are in Imphal. Boeing, the youngest, a Ph.D in Infrastructure Financing from I.I.T., Chennai teaches in Guwahati. While Jyotin, the first Ashok Chakra recipient of the Army Medical Corps, of Manipur and the entire North East, has done the country proud, his irreparable loss is being borne stoically by his family.
—The author a retired army officer , an independent defence and security analyst, is Editor, Word Sword Features