Paramvir Chakra Award is the highest gallantry award to the Indian armed forces personnel for their valour, bravery during wars. Captain Gurbachan Singh Salaria was one of them.
Capt Gurbachan Singh Salaria was born on 29th Nov 1935 in a Jangal village m in Gurdaspur Punjab. He was the son of Sri Munshi Ram and his Smt Dhan Devi and belongs to an agricultural family.
He completed his education at King George Royal Indian Military College (Now known as Rashtriya Military School) Bangalore in 1946 later joined NDA at Khadakvasla. His first posting was in the 1st Gorkha Rifles on 9 June 1957
On 5 December 1961, 3/1 Gorkha Rifles was ordered to clear a roadblock established by the gendarmerie at a strategic roundabout at Elizabethville, Katanga. The plan was that one company with 2 Swedish armoured cars would attack the position frontally and Captain Gurbachan Singh Salaria with two sections of Gorkhas and two Swedish armoured personnel carriers would advance towards this roadblock from the airfield to act as a cutting-off force.
Captain Salaria with his small force arrived at a distance of 1500 yards from the roadblock at approximately 1312 hours on 5 December 1961 and came under heavy automatic and small-arms fire from an undetected enemy position dug in on his right flank. The enemy also had two armoured cars and about 90 men opposing Captain Salaria’s small force.
Captain Salaria appreciating that he had run into a subsidiary roadblock and ambush and that this enemy force might reinforce the strategic roundabout and thus jeopardize the main operation, decided to remove this opposition. He led a charge with bayonets, khukris, and grenades supported by a rocket launcher. In this gallant engagement, Captain Salaria killed 40 of the enemy and knocked out the two armored cars. This unexpected bold action completely demoralized the enemy who fled despite their numerical superiority and protected positions.
Captain Salaria was wounded in his neck by a burst of automatic fire but continued to fight till he collapsed due to profuse bleeding. Captain Salaria’s gallant action prevented any enemy movement of the enemy force towards the main battle scene and thus contributed very largely to the success of the main battalion’s action at the roundabout and prevented the encirclement of UN Headquarters in Elizabethville. Captain Salaria subsequently died of his wounds.
The unit of Capt. Salaria deployed in Elizabethville in Katanga province, the Headquarters of UN Command. He was tasked of removing roadblocks set up by the rebels near the airfield.
On 5 December 1961, a 3/1 GR Company supported by 3-inch mortar attacked a road-block, established by the Katangese troops, In the attacked enemy roadblocks were destroyed and established UN roadblock was there. In opposition, the enemy held the area strongly with two armoured cars and 90 men. Undeterred by the superior enemy strength and firepower, Salaria decided to take the enemy, head-on, to achieve the objective. The Gorkhas then charged the enemy with bayonets hand-grenades etc. Despite being heavily armed the enemy troops had to leave the battlefield seeing Salaria’s bravery and courage. His bold action completely demoralised the enemy who fled despite numerical superiority and well-fortified positions.
His leadership, courage, unflinching devotion to duty and disregard for his personal safety were the reasons for which Captain Gurbachan Singh Salaria was posthumously awarded the highest wartime medal, Param Vir Chakra.
- The Shipping Corporation of India Ltd (SCI), named fifteen of her Crude Oil Tankers in honour of the Param Vir Chakra recipients. The crude oil tanker named “Capt. Gurbachan Singh Salaria, PVC” was delivered to SCI on 26-10-1984.
- The courageous story of Capt Salaria was immortalized in the 1988 television serial, “Param Vir Chakra” by Chetan Anand. His role was essayed by the actor Brando Bakshi.
- A square in NDA has been named as “Salaria Square” in his honour.
- A stadium and a park have been set up by 14 Gurkha Training Centre at Subathu in Himachal Pradesh as a tribute to Capt Salaria.
- The Army Postal Service issued a special cover on 05 Dec 1992 to honour him.
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