Service No: IC-22760
Last Rank: Captain
Unit : 72 Armd Regt
Arm/Regt : The Armoured Corps
Operation : Op Cactus Lily
Date of Martyrdom : Dec 06, 1971
Capt Mohan Lal Safaya belonged to a well educated Kashmiri Pandit family. Son of Late Pandit R.K Safaya and Late Shrimati Shobavali Safaya, Capt Mohan Lal Safaya always nursed the desire of serving in the Armed Forces since his younger days. Though his father was an advocate, Capt Safaya felt that his calling was in the rough and tumble of the Army. Thus driven by the desire to serve the nation he left a comfortable home and job opportunity in Kashmir to join the Army.
Consequently he joined the Army in 1964 and was commissioned into 45 Cavalry, an Armoured Regiment of the Armoured Corps. 45 Cavalry Regiment was raised as an Indian Cavalry Regiment at Kandahar Lines, Delhi Cantonment by Lt Col SK Candade on May 16, 1956. During the 1965 war it was designated as an Armoured Delivery Regiment of the Indian Army. During ‘Operation Cactus Lily’ (1971), the Regiment operated in East Pakistan and played a pivotal role in the Indian victory in Eastern Theatre. During 1971, the regiment was equipped with Russian PT-76 amphibious light battle tanks.
By 1971, Capt M L Safaya had put in about 7 years of service and evolved into a committed soldier and an officer par excellence. He gained operational experience and honed his field craft skills while serving in the North East in Siliguri and Nathula pass. When a new regiment was raised in 1971 in the form of 72 Armoured Regiment , Capt M L Safaya became part of it and was posted at Ahmednagar. Capt Mohan Lal Safaya got married to a Kashmiri girl, Raj Kumari Nehru on 29 Sep 1968 and the couple had a daughter and a son.
Indo-Pak War: 06 Dec 1971
During 1971 war, Capt M L Safaya’s 72 Armd Regt was deployed in the western sector to thwart the advance of Pakistani forces. The Regiment was part of 10 Division of 15 Corps deployed in the Chhamb sector of J & K. In 1965, the Pakistanis had succeeded in capturing Chhamb with a surprise attack and in 1971 too, it was their one of the main objectives. 10 Division, under Major General Jaswant Singh, was deployed for the offensive and was fairly well-equipped, having four infantry brigades, two regiments of armour (9 Horse and 72 Armoured Regiment), two Engineer regiments, six regiments of artillery (two medium, three field and one light), besides elements of air defence and the usual ancillary units.
On 4 December, the enemy forces attacked many Indian positions with armour and infantry in Chhamb sector. On the Dewa-Ghopar axis, in the North, six Pakistani tanks were knocked out , however, by midday, Mandiala North had fallen. That day several localities South and South-West of Chhamb were also overrun or ordered to withdraw. Later a squadron of 72 Armoured Regiment was placed under 191 Brigade and the para commando group and a troop of 9 Horse were deployed on the Eastern side of the Mandiala Bridge to block the enemy’s advance towards Jaurian. To retake Mandiala North, 7 Kumaon and a squadron of 72 Armoured Regiment were ordered forward from Akhnur (68 Brigade). The battle continued for many days thereafter with 72 Armoured Regiment playing a vital role in the overall operations.
However Capt M L Safaya while displaying courage and gallantry, was martyred during the operation on 06 Dec. Capt M L Safaya was a valiant soldier and a fine officer who led from the front like a true military leader. He laid down his life in the service of the nation following the highest traditions of his Regiment and the Indian Army. Capt M L Safaya is survived by his wife Mrs Raj Kumari Safaya, daughter Dr Shikha Safaya and son.
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