Service No : IC-35010
Place of birth : Pilani, Rajasthan
Service : Army
Last Rank : Major
Unit : 64 Engr Regt
Arm/Regt : The Corps of Engineers
Operation : CI & IS Ops
Awards : Shaurya Chakra
Martyrdom : January 23, 1994
Major Bhupender Singh hailed from Pilani in Rajasthan and was born in the year 1949. He joined the army after completing his education as he was inclined to serve in the Armed Forces since his younger days. He was commissioned into 64 Engr Regt of the Corps of Engineers, one of the oldest arms of Indian army. After passing out of the training academy, he served in various operational areas and honed his soldierly skills. He soon developed into a committed soldier and gritty officer, who commanded the respect of his seniors and juniors as well. Besides being a soldier at heart, he was a people's person with a cheerful disposition, which endeared him to everyone around.
After serving for few years, Maj Bhupender got married to Ms Avinash Kaur and the couple had two daughters, Nimrat Kaur and Rubina Singh. His elder daughter Nimart Kaur grew up to be an acclaimed actor. The Corps of Engineers consists of three major constituents namely Combat Engineers, MES and Border Roads. The Corps also provides officers to the Military Survey and Defence Research & Development Organization. After serving at various places in Arunachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Punjab (at Patiala), Maj Bhupender Singh got deputed to serve with the Border Roads and was posted to J&K.
Verinag Operation (J&K) : Jan 1994
During 1994, Major Bhupender Singh was serving with the Border Roads in J & K. He was functioning as OC (Officer Commanding) of 99 Road Constr Coy deployed at Verinag near the Jawahar Tunnel in J&K. As part of ongoing "Project Beacon", Maj Bhupender Singh's unit was tasked with the construction of five Bailey bridges on Khannabal-Pahalgam road. Maj Bhupender Singh made a detailed plan of action for the assigned task and decided to go on a recce of the bridge sites. In early Jan 1994, Maj Bhupender Singh accompanied by a party consisting of two officers and 13 other soldiers went on the recce of the bridge sites. As the area was affected by active militancy, the recce party also included the armed escorts as per the SOP(Standard Operating Procedure).
However, at Akkar village, the recce party ran into an ambush by the militants who were lying in wait at a roadblock created by them. Maj Bhupender Singh and his troops were fired at from all around from a very close range by a large number of militants by automatic weapons. Maj Bhupender Singh, showing commendable courage and leadership quickly deployed his troops and returned the fire. After a prolonged exchange of fire, Maj Bhupender Singh and his soldiers managed to successfully break through the ambush and proceeded ahead. However on 17 Jan 1994, the militants belonging to Hizb-ul-Mujahideen group kidnapped Maj Bhupender Singh from his place of work. They made some ridiculous demands of some terrorists to be released that Maj Bhupender did not agree to. Consequently, Maj Bhupender Singh was killed by the kidnappers, in retaliation to the denial of their demands on 23 Jan 1994.
Major Bhupender Singh besides being brave and intelligent, was a committed soldier who upheld the traditions of the Indian army at the cost of his life. Maj Bhupender Singh was given the gallantry ward “Shaurya Chakra” for his commitment, bravery and service to the nation. Ironically the gallantry award was given on 13 Mar, the birthday of his daughter Nimrat Kaur.
Major Bhupender Singh is survived by his wife Smt Avinash Kaur and daughters Nimrat Kaur and Rubina Singh.
In an interview to the TOI Maj Bhupender Singh’s elder daughter Nimrat Kaur paying tribute to her father said, “My life changed after my father’s death. It was not a financial threat. But that life that I had lived with those orderlies, those army cars went away overnight. It was difficult moving to civilian life. In the army, you are living in a shell and that’s why my father never sent me to an army school. You are used to three sevadars around you and suddenly, there are no army get-togethers, so to just adjust to the new life without any fauji kids for friends was tough. I was undergoing puberty that time and that compounded my agony. But the army stands by you like a rock. They are your family and even today, they will come at the drop of a hat if you need something and they will do anything for you. I also think it’s to do with my father’s goodwill and his relationship with people. Coincidentally, he got awarded the Shaurya Chakra on my birthday, March 13. (His name is now written as Bhupender Singh SC, SC standing for Shaurya Chakra).
I remember my The Lunchbox premiered in Cannes and I immediately went back to Kashmir in June for the first time after my father’s death. I could sense that my life was going to shift in a big way and I wanted to go back to Kashmir for my closure and I did. I spent 10 days there all alone. I went to Verinag ( there’s a point there dedicated to my father). I came back and got a tattoo done on my wrist which reads, ‘Zenab’, meaning a father’s precious jewel that brings glory to his name”.