During the 14-day lightning campaign (it actually was 15 and a half on ground on all three fronts) between India and Pakistan in December 1971, among 513 bravehearts who went beyond the call of duty and earned the gallantry decoration, 11 were Brigadier-rank officers — seven fighting on the eastern, two on the western and two on the northern front.
Two earned Bar to the Maha Vir Chakra (MVC), the award won the second time. Brigadier Sant Singh earned the first MVC during the 1965 India-Pakistan war. He dared again during Operation ‘Cactus Lily’ in 1971 and earned the Bar to his MVC.
Brig Sant Singh is affectionately known as ‘Sant Sipahi’, the ‘Saint Soldier’. Son of AS Gill, Sant was born on July 12, 1921. He belonged to a marginal Jat Sikh farming family in Panjgrain Kalan in the princely state of Faridkot. After Intermediate from RSD College, Faridkot, Sant was enlisted in July 1941 as a clerk in Faridkot State Forces Engineer Field Company when World War II was on.
Noticing his aptitude as a leader, Sant was recommended by his British Commanding Officer for an Officer’s Commission. After six years in the ranks, on February 16, 1947, Sant was commissioned into 1st Battalion of the 14th Punjab Regiment as Emergency Commissioned Officer. During Partition, the regiment was allotted to Pakistan and Second Lieutenant Sant Singh was transferred to 2nd Sikh Light Infantry Battalion.