Story of Param Vir Chakra Lieutenant Colonel Dhan Singh Thapa

Lieutenant Colonel Dhan Singh Thapa PVC was an Indian Army officer, and recipient of the Param Vir Chakra, India’s highest military decoration. Thapa was commissioned into the 1st Battalion, 8 Gorkha Rifles in 1949.

Maj Dhan Singh Thapa was in command of a forward post in Ladakh. On 20 October, 1962 it was attacked by the Chinese in overwhelming strength after being subjected to intensive artillery and mortar bombardment. Under his gallant command, the greatly outnumbered post repulsed the attack, inflicting heavy casualties on the aggressors. The enemy attacked again in greater numbers after heavy shelling by artillery and mortar fire. Under the leadership of Major Thapa, his men repulsed this attack also with heavy losses to the enemy. The Chinese attacked for the third time, now with tanks to support the infantry. The post had already suffered large numbers of casualties in the earlier two attacks. Though considerably reduced in number it held out to the last. When it was finally overrun by overwhelming numbers of the enemy, Major Thapa got out of his trench and killed several of the enemy in hand-to-hand fighting before he was finally overpowered by Chinese soldiers. Major Thapa’s cool courage, conspicuous fighting qualities and leadership were in the highest traditions of our Army.

For his gallant and heroic actions and his astute leadership, Lt Col Thapa was decorated with the Param Vir Chakra. He was believed to be dead and his wife received the medal in his name, but it was later discovered that he was taken as a prisoner of war. After he was taken a prisoner, he was treated very badly against all military conventions. He had to undergo a series of punishments for causing many casualties to Chinese forces and also not toeing the line of Chinese authorities in making statements against India. He was later released and resumed his duty and got promoted to the rank of Lt Col.

He retired as Lt Col and passed away due to natural causes at the age of 77 on 5th September 2005. He is survived by his wife Shukla and daughter Poornima.

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