Untold Story: How 1 Sikh Battalion Took on 3 PAK Battalions to Save a Kashmir Town in 1971


The 6th Sikh Battalion heroically defended the strategically important town against a numerically superior Pakistani force 44 years ago. This story was originally published on the Hindustan Times on December 6, 2015 04:47 IST

One of the bravest battles of the 1971 war was actually fought hundreds of kilometres away from Bangladesh, to protect the town of Poonch in Jammu and Kashmir. The 6th Sikh Battalion heroically defended the strategically important town against a numerically superior Pakistani force 44 years ago.

Officials said that during the 1971 conflict, the heroic stand of the battalion against a numerically superior enemy saved the politically important town of Poonch. The battle was fought from December 3-6.

As India joined the war on behalf of then East Pakistan on December 3, 1971, Pakistan attacked on the Western front. Pakistani brigades in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK) comprising 5 Frontier Force Rifles, 7 POK Battalion and 51 Punjab Regiment were given the task of capturing two piquets as also the helipad in Poonch which were held by the 6 Sikh.

0 The assault began on the evening of December 3 but 6 Sikh, with artillery support, held them off for three days after which there was no major attack. The battalion suffered eight casualties and 33 were wounded. For their action, the battalion won one Maha Vir Chakra (MVC) and five Vir Chakras and the battle honour ‘Defence of Poonch 1971.’

Maj. Gen. K.L. Rattan, then a Lt Col commanding 6 Sikh, was awarded MVC for gallantry and leadership of the highest order. He had praised the infantry-artillery cooperation in defending Poonch.

“Infantry-Artillery cooperation has to be a well-planned and well mixed concrete. So it was at Poonch. Our artillery was truly a battle winning factor,” he is quoted as having said in the book Indian gunners at war: The Western front 1971 written by Maj. Gen Jagjit Singh (retd).

Also an active participant in Counter Insurgency (CI) operations later, 6 Sikh is the first battalion to be honoured with the ‘The Chief of Army Staff Unit Citation’ for exemplary service to the nation.

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