Adieu to a general and a gentleman

Lt Gen Cherish Mathson (retd.)/

A tribute to a general and a gentleman, who served his country with distinction, by a fellow officer who served under in him in two of the most challenging and dangerous military locations, including in the world's highest battlefield

Major General Randhir Sinh, UYSM, AVSM, SM breathed his last on 22 March 2022. He was 72. He hailed from a family of highly decorated soldiers belonging to royalty of the erstwhile princely state of Rajpipla in Gujarat, adjoining Baroda. An alumnus of Mayo College, Ajmer, he trained at the National Defence Academy and the Indian Military Academy.

Major General Randhir Sinh
photo courtesy: Colonel Abhay Singh

After being selected for a postgraduate course at the Royal College of Defence Studies in London, he was commissioned into the 4th battalion of the 3rd Gorkha Rifles in 1968. It was raised and commanded by his father, the World War II veteran Lieutenant Colonel Duleepsinh, who was military secretary to the then Army Chief, General K M Cariappa. Having served the length of the Himalayas, Maj Gen Sinh was the recipient of four gallantry and distinguished service awards.

In the Indo-Pak War of 1971 as a Captain, Maj Gen Sinh was Aide De Camp to the legendary Lieutenant General Sagat Singh, who captured Dacca, the capital of East Pakistan and forced the Pakistani army headed by Lt Gen A A K Niazi to surrender. The Maj General’s bravery in the 1971 war was recognised by being “mentioned in despatches”.

Based on his war experiences, Maj Gen Sinh wrote a biography of his mentor, titled “A Talent for War: The Military Biography of Lt Gen Sagat Singh”. It was released on Oct 18, 2013, by General Bikram Singh, then Chief of the Army Staff at the United Services Institution of India {USI}. The Jaipur Literary Festival in end January 2019 had a reading session from this biography.

The gentleman officer in royal surroundings

Maj Gen Randhir Sinh commanded the Siachen Brigade in the world’s highest battlefield. During his tenure in Siachen, the Pakistani army tried to capture the highest military post at Bana {22,000 feet above mean sea level}. His effective plans and actions saved Bana. For his meritorious action in saving this outpost from the enemy, he was awarded the Uttam Yudh Seva Medal.

Maj Gen Sinh was involved in counter insurgency operations in the northeast, Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir and was awarded the Sena Medal for gallantry for his brave actions against terrorists in the Kashmir Valley. He held the Chattrapati Shivaji Chair of Excellence at the USI.

As a Major General he commanded 25 Infantry Division on the Line of Control with Pakistan, south of Pir Panjal, during Operation Parakram, which was launched after the terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament in December 2001. His superior strategy and offensive operations led to the destruction of many Pakistani posts and also ensured that a large number of terrorist camps were destroyed across the LoC. For his exceptional leadership he was awarded the Ati Vishist Seva Medal. He retired from the Indian Army in 2005.

Maj Gen Sinh presenting Siachen Brigade memento to Deputy Quarter Master General Major Benz K Jacob, on his posting out in Aug 1996 photo by arrangement

As much as he was an exceptionally capable military leader, Maj Gen Randhir Sinh was compassionate towards his troops and subordinates. I had the professional privilege of serving under his command on the Siachen Glacier as well as the LoC, and I have no doubt that he was the most effective military leader under whom I have ever served.

His contribution to the defence of India at crucial times on the Siachen Glacier and the LoC will be always remembered by our grateful nation. His colleagues and soldiers will always remember him for his humane qualities. Maj Gen Randhir Sinh is survived by his wife, Gayatri Devi Sinh and son, Col. Abhay Sinh.

May his gallant and noble soul rest in eternal peace.

(Writer, who commanded a Strike Corps retired as South-Western army commander and is an alumnus of Sainik School, Kazhakoottam)

{English original of the article published in the opinion page of Mathrubhumi daily dated March 25, 2022}

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