Service No: SS-23131
Last Rank: 2nd Lieutenant
Unit : 7 Punjab
Arm/Regt: The Punjab Regiment
Operation : Op Cactus Lily
Date of Martyrdom : Dec 12, 1971
2nd Lieutenant Jasmail Singh Khokhar was born on 22nd July 1946 in the Siryewala village of Bathinda district in Punjab. Son of Bhai Meher Singh Ji and Smt Harbans Kaur, 2nd Lt Jasmail Singh had four brothers, namely, Balwant Singh, Jaswant Singh, Darshan Singh and Jagtar Singh and three sisters, Amrit Kaur, Charanjeet Kaur, and Manjeet Kaur. His family had many members, who served in the Armed Forces that included his elder brother Wg Cdr Jaswant Singh(Retd), his brothers in law Colonel Shawinder Singh (Retd) and Colonel Nirmal Singh (Retd). The sixth Sikh Guru, Hargobind Sahib Ji, blessed the Khokhar family with a title of “BHAI SAHIB” and till date, the family is addressed as “BHAI-KE”. It was this family’s responsibility of running free langar by the decree of Guru Gobind Singh Ji and thus his family was also called the ‘langar waale’ family.
2nd Lt Jasmail Singh completed his early education at the primary school in village Siryewala. He then attended the senior secondary school in the town of Bajakhana and finished matriculation in first division grade in 1963. Being a good student and a fine sportsman he displayed leadership in his early life as he captained the school Hockey team. After finishing school, he joined Mohindera College in Patiala for further studies and completed his graduation in Arts. During his college, he joined the NCC (National Cadet Corps) Air Wing and went on to become a Sergeant Cadet. He had a keen interest in flying and learned his basic flying skills flying Pushpak aircraft, during his NCC days. His interest in flying grew after he acquired the Student Pilot’s License and then he decided to pursue his interest further. He and went to obtain a Private Pilots License (PPL) from the Aviation Club, Patiala. He achieved the distinction of being the first cadet from the NCC Air Wing Patiala to do a first solo flight.
2nd Lt Jasmail Singh though was keen to join the Indian Air Force like his elder brother, but could not do so due to age restrictions and joined the Indian Army instead with the hope of becoming an Army pilot. He joined the Officers’ Training School (OTS) Madras in 1969. During his time in the academy, he excelled and outshone his peers by displaying exemplary leadership qualities and physical capabilities. Upon completion of his training, in Mar 1970, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant, into 7 Punjab of the famed Punjab Regiment, a Regiment known for its gallant soldiers and numerous battle exploits.
Within short time 2nd Lt Jasmail Singh developed into a committed soldier who used every opportunity to hone his field craft skills in the battalion, which was the very first Infantry battalion to be equipped with the Armoured Personnel Carriers(APC). He received excellent grades in his training courses and was selected to undergo a Commando course in the very early part of his service. He was proficient in horse riding and marksmanship and went on to win many laurels in these sports. In 1971, when the war with Pakistan became imminent, his battalion was moved to the war theater in the Eastern Sector – then East Pakistan.
Indo-Pak war: Eastern Front -12 Dec 1971
During the Indo-Pak war of 1971, the Indian Armed Forces had to fight the Pakistani forces on eastern as well as western fronts. On the eastern front Indian Army had deployed three Corps viz. XXXIII Corps, IV Corps, and II Corps. The II Corps with 4 Div and 9 Div had its area of responsibility in the southwest area of then East Pakistan. The Army’s broad plan in that area was to overrun Jessore and khulna areas before marching towards the capital city of Dacca. 7 Punjab as part of the 9 Div got deployed in Khulna area. During that time 2nd Lt Jasmail Singh was admitted in a military hospital for an ailment and was not able to join his unit. He requested for immediate discharge from the hospital so that he could join his comrades on the battlefield. Finally, his request was agreed to and he joined his unit on 03 Dec 1971.
Khulna located in the south of Jessore was an important military cantonment of Pak army and was heavily defended. But the units under 9 Div including 7 Punjab fought valiantly and made quick progress during their advance towards Khulna. 2nd Lt Jasmail Singh fought gallantry in various operations from 03 Dec onward when the war officially commenced. On 12 Dec 1971, 2nd Lt Jasmail Singh was involved in another operation wherein his platoon was tasked to destroy two enemy bunkers across an open field.
2nd Lt Jasmail Singh led from the front during the operation and directed his men to launch an attack on the well-entrenched enemy. He moved daringly along with his soldiers towards the given objective but the enemy position was very heavily defended. However, during the fierce exchange of fire 2nd, Lt Jasmail Singh took an LMG burst on his chest and forehead and was severely injured. He later succumbed to his injuries and was martyred. 2nd Lt Jasmail Singh was a valiant soldier and a fine officer who laid down his life at the age of 25 years in the service of the nation.
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