Service No : IC-23747
Date of Birth : May 31, 1944
Place of birth : Kangra (Dist), HP
Service : Army
Last Rank : Major
Unit : 554 ASC Bn
Arm/Regt : Army Service Corps
Operation : Op Pawan
Martyrdom : March 24, 1989
Maj Uttam Chand Katoch was born on 31 May 1944 in Nagrota in Kangra dist of Himachal Pradesh. He was the eldest among five siblings and understood the importance of being responsible right from his younger days. Unfortunately, Maj Uttam Chand Katoch lost his father early in life and consequently, he grew up to be a man that embodied perseverance, resilience, and responsibility. No matter what role he played, whether of a dutiful son, a loving husband, a doting father or at work, he stuck to these values till the end.
Having started his journey from a quaint hill town in Kangra Valley, he came to reach the majestic campus of IMA Dehradun much on his own, where his experiences had lasting impressions on him and made him the person he lived to be. He was commissioned in the year 1971, into the Army Service Corps, the corps that provide logistic support to the army during war and peace. He was a voracious reader and an avid learner, always eager to assimilate knowledge and to apply it effectively. After being commissioned, he served in various operational units and formations in different places that included Sagar, Sunderbani, Gwalior, Binaguri, Kota, Udhampur, Sriganganagar and Secunderabad. He also had the distinction of commanding 554 ASC Bn at Sriganganagar. Besides being a deep-rooted soldier, he was very affable and lively, who would love to host friends regularly. He also enjoyed playing golf and cooking as well.
Op Pawan: 24 Mar 1989
During 1989, Maj Katoch was serving with the unit based at Secunderabad. But soon the unit was tasked to move to Sri Lanka as part of IPKF operation to contain the volatile situation there. After the induction of Indian forces in Aug 1987, the militants were supposed to surrender but the dreaded LTTE backed out and unleashed a war on Indian forces. Initially, only 54 division of the Army was inducted but the escalation of the operations brought three more divisions 3, 4 and 57 into the conflict. By 1989, Indian forces had undertaken numerous operations against LTTE but the war was far from over. Maj Katoch’s unit was moved to Trincomalee in Sri Lanka to provide critical support to various operations against the LTTE.
Maj Katoch and his troops had to move frequently to support the ongoing operations in their area of responsibility. While on move, they had to maintain a very strict vigil at all times as their routes were prone to IED blasts and surprise attacks by the LTTE militants. On 24 Mar 1989, Maj Katoch was leading a recce mission in the outskirts when they came under attack by an IED blast. The IED was tied to an abandoned bicycle held against a tree and as soon as the patrol party approached the area it detonated. Maj Katoch, rising to the occasion immediately swung into action along with his soldiers. A fierce exchange of fire followed thereafter which lasted for more than an hour. During the heavy exchange of fire, Maj Katoch fought gallantly but received multiple gunshots and was martyred.
While at deployment at Sri Lanka, Maj Katoch would describe the place as scenic and more or less peaceful and would avoid talking about the underlying threat to allay her fears as she had three grown-up children to look after. On the morning of the fateful day of 24th March 1989 also, he wrote four letters; one to his wife and one to each of his three children telling each one of them to take care of their mother behind him and behave responsibly, as if he already knew what was coming. But the news of his martyrdom reached the family earlier than his letters. Maj Uttam Chand Katoch was a valiant soldier and an officer par excellence, who laid down his life in the service of the nation following the highest traditions of the Indian Army.
Maj Uttam Chand Katoch is survived by his wife Mrs. Bimla Katoch, son Dr. Vikram Katoch and daughters Dr. Namrata Katoch & Mrs. Swati Katoch.
Rubina Boparai2023at2:23 pm
Your supreme sacrifice will never be forgotten. Your spirit of patriotism will inspire the generations to come. I salute your courage, resilience, and valour.
Major Sanjay Mehrotra2023at2:24 pm
In reply to Swati Katoch.
This is Major Sanjay Mehrotra (Retd.) I was commissioned on 11th March 1989 and was straightway posted to Srilanka in 554ASC Bn. We served together for a very little time . On 24th March 1989 we lost two brave officers & few soldiers. Maj Katoch and Maj Harsha will always remain in our heart.
I do understand your feelings . Stay blessed always.
Major Sanjay Mehrotra
Swati Katoch2023at2:24 pm
Still my daddy’s little girl! I miss you dad!