Service No : IC-48574K
Place of birth : Punjab
Service : Army
Last Rank : Major
Arm/Regt : Army Aviation Corps
Operation : Op Parakram
Martyrdom : January 24, 2002
Major Ajay Pal Singh Mahal hailed from Punjab and was born into a military family. Son of an Army officer Col OS Mahal, Maj APS Mahal had a brother as his sibling, who too joined the Army following the family tradition. Inspired by his father, he nursed the idea of donning the olive green right from his younger days. Following his passion, eventually he got selected for the prestigious NDA after his schooling. He joined the 74th NDA course and later went to IMA Dehradun as part of the 84th course. He was commissioned in the year 1989, into 33 Med Regt of the Regiment of Artillery, the second largest arm of the Indian army.
As a young Lieutenant, he soon evolved into a committed soldier and a fine officer with superior field-craft skills. He received the prestigious ‘Silver Gunner’ award for bagging the first prize in the Young Officers Artillery course. After serving for sometime with his parent Regiment, he opted for the Army Aviation Corps in the year 1993 and got trained as a Helicopter pilot. He excelled in the flying training too and received the ‘Silver Cheetah’ award for being the best pilot of the course. Besides being a committed soldier, he had a keen interest in religion and had a huge collection of books on subjects ranging from Upanishads to Indian religious philosophy. His vast knowledge on religion earned him a sobriquet "saint soldier" from his family and friends.
Op Parakram: 24 Jan 2002
During Jan 2002, Maj Ajay Pal Singh Mahal was serving with 3 (Independent) Recce and Observations Flight under the Army formation based in Leh sector in J & K. As part of this unit under “Op Parakram” Maj Ajay Pal Singh Mahal was involved various air operations in support of soldiers deployed in inaccessible and remote areas along the LOC. On 24th Jan 2002, Maj Ajay Pal Singh Mahal was tasked for one more such operation in support of soldiers deployed at a forward post in Turtuk area in Leh near the LOC.
Maj Ajay Pal Singh Mahal along with his co-pilot Capt Pramod Lal Yadav took off for the assigned task as planned on 24 Jan 2002. However sometime after the takeoff, the helicopter crashed without giving any time for the air crew to undertake any emergency measures. Maj Ajay Pal Singh Mahal his co-pilot Capt Pramod Lal Yadav could not survive the crash and were martyred. Thus the lives of two dynamic officers were lost in this tragic accident. In April 2001, also Maj Ajay Pal Singh Mahal had had a miraculous escape in a helicopter accident near Amar post in Leh, but he did not find favour with destiny this time. Maj Ajay Pal Singh Mahal was a brave soldier and a professionally competent pilot, who laid down his life in the line of his duty.
Maj Ajay Pal Singh Mahal is survived by his wife, Smt Navjot Kaur and daughter Guneet.