Brig Raghubir Singh Rajawat (Retd), one of the bravest soldiers of Mother India who saw action in World War II as well as the 1965 and 1971 wars against Pakistan, passed away at the age of 99 after a prolonged illness due to age-related problems on Sunday in Jaipur.
He participated in the Burma war in 1944 and went to Japan to fight. Thereafter, he fought in the Indo-Pak war of 1947-48 in the Uri sector immediately after independence.
During the Korean war in 1954, he was posted as Chairman of the Neutral Nations Representative Commission (NNRC) as part of the peacekeeping force. During the 1958-59 Israel-Egypt war, he was part of the United Nations Emergency Force.
Commanding his battalion, part of 18 Rajputana Rifles (later 11 Mechanised Infantry) during the 1965 Indo-Pak war, he set an example for his men by displaying extraordinary bravery during the battle of Asal Uttar. As quoted in his Mahavir Chakra citation, “In the Khemkaran and Asal Uttar Sector, the attack of the enemy was extremely violent. However, the soldiers of 18 Rajputana Rifles fearlessly confronted the
Pakistan Army’s attack and destroyed 22 Patton Tanks of the enemy. On 09 Sep 1965, under the able leadership of Raghubir Singh, his battalion successfully accomplished the mission and kicked out the Pak Army who had the suspicious motive of reaching Harike in Punjab.”
Lieutenant Colonel (later Brigadier) Raghubir Singh Rajawat was conferred the Maha Vir Chakra, the second-highest gallantry award in the country, by the then President of India, Dr S Radhakrishnan. During the medal presentation ceremony, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi stood and shook hands with the brave officer.
Interestingly, Rajawat was trained at the Officers Training School at Bangalore (as Bengaluru was then known), where one of his tutors was Maj Ayub Khan, who later became the military dictator of Pakistan and waged the 1965 war against India. That was a time when barely 10 per cent of the officers were Indians, the rest being British.
Jagjit Singh Arora, who later became a General and was acclaimed as a hero of the 1971 Bangladesh liberation war, accepting Pakistan’s surrender instrument, was his batchmate.
During the 1971 war, Rajawat effectively handled the post of Provost Marshal in the Military Police with the responsibility to look after one lakh Pakistani prisoners of war in the Bangladesh Surrender Camp. This was a hazardous task as it was for the first time that such a large number of POWs were being held. Rajawat efficiently planned the billeting of such a large number of army soldiers and officers by sending them under the command of various units spread all over the country.
Born on Nov 2, 1923 in Soda village of Tonk District in a family of Rajput Nobles, Raghubir Singh Rajawat was commissioned on April 18, 1943 into the princely state of Jaipur’s army Sawai Man Guards as a Second Lieutenant. His father was also a soldier in Jaipur State forces. After the 1965 war, the erstwhile Maharaja of Jaipur Sawai Man Singh honoured him by presenting him a sword.
Post-retirement, he would spend his time in his village Soda and for 15 long years was the Sarpanch of the village panchayat and also a member of the Tonk district Zila Parishad.
He encouraged his granddaughter, Chhavi Rajawat, an MBA, to work in the rural areas and she later became the Sarpanch of the panchayat, a position held by her grandfather.
Brigadier Raghubir Singh, MVC or ‘Dadosa’ as he was fondly addressed by the present generation, was an extremely brave soldier and an iconic warrior. He will be greatly missed by his family and the paltan.
He is survived by his son, Maj Sangram Singh Rajawat.