Death defying bear hug : Major (Dr) Laishram Jyotin Singh, Ashoka Chakra (posthumous)

Lt Col L Manongba
Contd from prev issue
Two of the terrorists then entered the neighbouring guest house. The third terrorist (whose ‘Joridar’ had blown himself up with the car bomb) rushed into the Noor Guest House. All the four terrorists wore explosive laden suicide vests. Of the two terrorists who had rushed towards the neighbouring guest house, one of them blew himself up with the suicide vest. Later it was confirmed that the terrorist accompanying him had escaped from the site through a blast hole in the wall. The terrorist who entered Noor Guest House was searching every room for Indian residents. He started firing and hurled grenades while looking for The Fateful Morning ‘Hindi Speaking’ residents/guests. This terrorist found himself standing in front of the door of Maj Jyotin Singh with the AK-47 Assault Rifle in his hand. He had probably exhausted his grenades. Maj Laishram Jyotin Singh was now standing face to face with the courier of death itself, clad in a deadly suicide vest who was about to lift his AK-47 Rifle for a ‘Deathly sweep in front of him’. The next rooms a few feet away were occupied by other Indian colleagues and officers, who too were unarmed, as per the diplomatic protocol and agreements with the Afghanistan Government.
The instinctive response of the hero would leave many dumbfounded. Probably he had no time for thinking about actions and reactions. It was sheer instinct of the Saviour, a split second action driven by the desire and mental focus to save lives. The sportsman in the Doctor too triggered the auto-motor action to react in the best possible defensive manner. Jyotin Singh pounced upon the terrorist standing just a foot or two away from him. The terrorist dropped his assault rifle on being surprised by this most unexpected reaction of the gallant doctor, and wrestled with Jyotin. The strong physique of the sportsman in the doctor ensured the terrorist didn’t get the better of him. In desperation, the terrorist detonated the suicide vest that he wore. In milliseconds, both the bodies were blown into smithereens by the powerful RDX. Young Jyotin gave the Bear Hug of Death and saved further killings and annihilation that the terrorist would have brought upon the others in the adjacent guest rooms. As eyewitnesses and a senior official described, the abdominal parts of the martyr were completely blown apart; it was only his serene face and appendages which had burn marks but no severe injury was seen. He achieved martyrdom in the highest traditions of the country and armed forces–That of Unsurpassable Gallantry in the Face of the Enemy. A Doctor, an Officer and a Leader of men, trained twice over to save lives–who saved his dozen odd unarmed colleagues. What more could one ask from such a valiant leader.
From eyewitness accounts it was also learnt that these terrorists spoke “Urdu’ and not ‘Pashto or Dari’ which are in use as the lingua franca of the Afghans. It was believed that these terrorists were from Lashkar–e-Taiba who had carried out a joint operation with the Taliban. The mortal remains of late Major L Jyotin were brought home by a special flight of the Indian Air Force (IAF) on 28th February 2010. The IAF aircraft landed at Imphal airport at around 2.30 pm. Family members, relatives, friends and the Army Divisional Commander, Army officers and troops were at the airport to give a befitting Military Funeral to the Hero. The funeral cortege wound its way to Nambol for the last rites. Late Major Jyotin’s mother had one lament that her son never informed her that he was going to Kabul, thinking that they might object to his assignment and probably get him married early to change his mind from flying away.
But he had already scripted his own destiny–to return home a hero. On 26th January 2011, Late Major Laishram Jyotin Singh (MR-08609) was awarded the Ashoka Chakra, posthumously, by the President. Professor L Boeing Singh, the youngest sibling of the hero, received the Nation’s highest gallantry award from Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil, the Honourable President of India on behalf of the martyr. He is the first AMC officer to be awarded with this highest honour. Ashoka Chakra is the peacetime Equivalent of Param Vir Chakra, awarded only for the “Greatest of the Ultimate Brave”.
Since inception of the award in 1952, only 83 individuals have been bestowed this prestigious Gallantry Award. The parent organisations, AMC and the army have ensured that the sacrifice of Jyotin Singh is not forgotten. AMC Centre & College, Lucknow has honoured this bravest son of India by dedicating its main auditorium in his name–‘Major Laishram Jyotin Singh, AC, Auditorium’. In addition, a prominent ‘Chatuska’ at the sprawling campus of AMC Centre has been named as ‘Maj LJ Singh, AC, Chauraha’.
In December 2016, all ranks of Military Hospital Hissar, Haryana, contributed and installed a life size bust of the brave Doctor at a prominent crossroad of the Military Hospital. In Dec 2011, Leimakhong Military Garrison in Manipur ceremonially installed a bust of the ‘Doctor’, made by Sculptor Shri L Phonindro Singh of Nambol. Then Divisional Commander also commissioned a park in his name–‘Jyotin Memorial Park’. On 14th August 2020, the Manipur State Government instituted a new scheme called ‘Major Laishram Jyotin Singh, Ashoka Chakra (Posthumous) Ex Gratia Scheme for Natives of Manipur killed in action’ while serving in the Armed Forces or Assam Rifles or CPMFs. An amount of Rs 5 lakh as Ex Gratia would be paid to the next of kin of any martyr.
The youth and society needs luminaries & heroes. Here is a lionhearted knight, from amongst us, who has proven beyond doubt his bravery, dedication & loyalty to the country and humanity. The State of Manipur, the society, the youth & parents alike,all must use this tale of heroism as an inspiration for the young and capable minds. There is much more that needs to be done in the State, to salute the heroism displayed by the Doctor–Trained twice over to save Lives. He gave the monumental Bear Hug to Death itself. As a veteran & as parents of Soldiers & Warriors of the country, one wished to visit the ‘Altar of the Brave in Manipur’, where the least that we could do is to light a candle, a joss stick and lay a flower of love. Jai Hind.
This article has been published in Defence related quarterly magazine MEDALS & RIBBONS Jan. - Mar. 2021 edition.
Lt Col L Manongba (Army Veteran) was commissioned into 11 GR on 07 June 1980, and took premature retirement in November 2003. In his second innings he was witness to epochal events, where he saw the birth of a new Nation, i.e. South Sudan. At that time he was working as General Manager of a Petroleum Company in East Africa (South Sudan). He was elected as an Executive Member of the 1st Commercial Association of South Sudan (Petroleum Association of South Sudan). Since 2016, he has been overseeing the ECHS Polyclinic in Imphal, and is in the forefront of ESM activities in Manipur. He is available on [email protected]