On the night of 14th-15th December, 1971, 17 Poona Horse were up against the enemy’s main defensive system along the general line between Shakaragh and Zafarwa. The enemy defenses were on a very deep minefield which was concrete pill boxes, anti-tank ditches, and other defense works. Indian army had never attempted such task of passing through the minefield. It was a suicidal task but the infantry brigades needed some quick help. Lt. Col Hanut Singh(Later Lt. Gen) decided to cross the minefield. The enemy defenses were taken aback when they heard Indian tanks coming towards them and they fired on them as they were able to get an idea through silhouette of the tanks and they were being fired on point blank range. Indian army soldiers fired on the directions where they thought the enemy could be and in that dark night, they managed to get some startling hits.
The next day 16th December is a witness to the fiercest of the tank battles Indian army has ever done. On that day, Indian tanks were outnumbered three to one with the Pakistanis. On that day, 48 of the Pakistani army tanks were destroyed and enemy armour attack was repulsed.
When the two brigades of infantry were without tank support, Gen did not cared about anything, he only had duty in his mind and did the impossible, took his men without a single casualty through almost 700 meters deep three layered minefield and under his leadership his Regiment, against all odds, destroyed about 50 tanks against loss of 13.
Lt. Col(Later Lt. Gen.) showed conspicuous gallantry and leadership and kept the best traditions of the Indian army, and was awarded with Mahavir Chakra. After the war was over, Pakistanis came and asked about how 17 Poona Horse soldiers crossed the minefield at the night and how did they had fired so well, they were sure that Indian army had some night division devices while Indian army had none.
This is just one of his glories which he achieved during his life. In mid 50s, Poona Horse was issued with a centurion tank. Hanut Singh ji was the young Captain then, he was selected to attend a Centurion tank gunnery course, in the United Kingdom, in 1958. He was awarded a ‘Distinction’ on this course, and when he returned, he was appointed gunnery instructor at the Armoured Corps Centre and School, Ahmednagar, in May 1959. He rewrote the general staff paper with pamphlet on ‘Technique of Shooting from Armoured Fighting Vehicles’. His teachings are an important part of training at the armoured corps right till the date centurion tanks were in service. It was these techniques and training that helped Indian Centurion tanks to shoot out the Pakistani tanks in 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak Wars.
In May 1982, Hanut Singh ji was promoted Major General, and given command of 17 Mountain Division, in Sikkim. While his visit to forward posts he realized that the officers and jawans are living in appalling conditions. The men are living in sheds and there was no insulation. They had to use stoves for heating and the sheds never got heated, and once the heating was stopped, the cold became unbearable. The roofs of the shed had holes and that let in rains and snow, there were no toilets and bathrooms just a roof. The day ended with sunlight as there were no lights. Hanut Singh ji thought that this was shameful for troops to suffer in this manner even after spending twenty years in the same locations. He made his mind to fix these problems.
In the next operational works conference, Hanut raised the issue about the appaling conditions of the troops. He got a reply from a Corps commander that he had also been around the forward defences and found the state satisfactory.
When Major Gen Hanut Singh ji got no help from Corps HQ in the form of any funds, he requested for engineer effort. That was also refused. Then he decided to have the necessary material using funds and engineer resources of the division. Wood which was available at a cheap price and this was used for insulating the living accommodation. Bathrooms were also made and each post had a generator for lighting and also a radio, that was again from the thinking of such a great leader and a soldier’s soldier Hanut Singh ji, now the day of a soldier at forward post will not end at sunset, they were also provided with radio sets. After a year, when he was leaving, the troops thanked him with a memento, which had the words, as written here , “You have done more for improving our operational preparedness, administrative facilities and our living conditions in one year, than others have done in twenty.” All his life he lived in a simple manner, avoided parties and did no entertainments for VIPs. Spiritually, he believed in Shiva Bala Yogi who was his guru and he wanted to quit.
Lt. General Hanut Singh is known to the world as a General who never feared anyone – he only adhered to the truth.
After retiring from the Indian Army, he wished to live with his Guruji Shiva Bala Yogi and shifted to Dehradun. His Guruji invited him to build his independent residence behind Shivabalayogi Ashram. He put his entire savings to build his ashram located behind Shivabalayogi Ashram in Dehradun. He took serious sadhana under the guidance of his guru.
After Hanut Singh ji’s guru left for his heavenly abode, Lt Gen Hanut Singh spent his time at the ashram. He meditated for many hours and did not talk about any of his achievements, he always considered himself as insignificant being. In 2012, the Shiv Bala Yogi ashram representatives filed a law suit. They had filed a suit for his eviction in 2012 claiming the land on which General Hanut’s residential complex was built was their land. General Hanut Singh Ji knowing their intentions applied for demarcation of the land, the Shiv Bala yogi ashram administration did everything they can to stop the demarcation of the land. After a long delay, demarcation happened and it was known that the land belonged to the nagar nigam not the Ashram.
General Hanut applied for allotment in early 2013 as soon after discovering that his residence was located on Nagar Nigam land. The Ashram used all their political influence to stall and delay the allotment in favor of General Hanut. Eventually, in their board meeting held in Oct 2014, Nagar Nigam authorities agreed and the proposal of land was sent to Urban Development Authority. General Hanut knew that the ashram authorities with their power and influence are trying to abort the allotment of the land. In those three years, he tried to get nagar nigam authorities to sanction the land as per instructed by UDA but they did not complete the task at their hand.
Lt Gen Hanut Singh ji attained Mahasamadhi on 11th April 2015. In 2011, when Ashram was harrasing General Hanut to will his residential complex, the General extracted a promise from Nripendra(Gen’s nephew) to not surrender his sacred abode, where he performed intense Sadhana. And Nripendra singh have since then taken care of the ashram and has given a big part of his life for Lt Gen Hanut Singh ji’s service.
On 10th August 2018, the ashram authorities illegally sealed the premises of Hanut Singh ji’s ashram, they broke the locks of the General Hanut’s garage and kept their own locks. This is just not it, the state administration is with the Ashram authorities who must be trying to benefit from this unholy deal. As a matter of fact, the complete land belongs to the Nagar nigam and they selectively move to seal the Hanut Singh Ji’s ashram and not the land which is on the rearside of the ashram. On the land, the Shivabalayogi ashram authorities have come up with two concrete structures but they were never sealed. Nripendra Singh who is the nephew of Gen Hanut and also a bachelor devoted to Gen. Hanut. He has been fighting the battle with devotees of Lt Gen Hanut Singh. He has written to the CM and the Governor of Uttarakhand, but of no avail. The Government authorities should interfere and should give the land to rightful heir of Lt Gen Hanut Singh ji.
The complete land and building on the ashram was gifted by Late Maharani Kailash Kumari Devi of Bolangir (also known as Patna) to Shivabalayogi Maharaj for ashram use. The family members of Maharani Kailash Kumari Devi are keen to take back the possession of the Ashram for the private use. The family members of Maharani Kailash Kumari include Mr Ananga Udai Singh Deo (RajyaSabha MP of BJD) and his son Kalikesh Singh Deo(LokSabha MP of BJD party). For that they are trying to use every political influence they can to illegally occupy the land that now don’t belong to them.
Lt Gen Hanut Singh’s Samadhi Sthal which has been sealed contains his ashes, myriad priceless inspirations of books, photographs, idols and Pooja samagri. His Samadhi sthal which inspired faith among all of General’s followers, today lies sealed without even a flicker of jyot. Even a goshala which was maintained by the devotees of Gen Hanut Singh ji is demolished and cows have no place to stay. He is the same general whose regiment was called by the enemy as ‘Fakhr-e-hind’, who led tanks through minefields, unharmed, now awaits justice. The police personnel and the authorities have an audacity to close the ashram of a war hero who absolutely gave his everything for the country. On humanitarian terms it was asked by Hanut ji’s followers if they can collect and take his belongings if they are sealing the ashram, they did not even adhere to that plea. Not only this is shameful for war hero, it is shame for complete nation that such elements are living among our society a who for their greed can sell even those who fought for the honour of this nation. A man who in all odds fought for ethical and moral justice has now been told to live on an illegal land. It is clear that the politically powerful forces wish to illegally take the land and declare it their own.
Every Indian army officer who happen to know of Lt Gen Hanut Singh ji or have served with him, it does not matter whether senior or junior, have highest regard for the professional ethic and military leadership of the general. It is our moral duty to protect his asharam and not let others occupy the land which rightfully belongs to Lt.Gen Hanut Singh ji.
Some dignitaries have already written to the army chief and Defence Minister Nirmala Seetharaman and their response on such an important issue is awaited. The central Government and the uttrakhand government must act on it and take all the measures that are needed. Defencelover requests the government to take action as quickly as possible as it is not even hurting a war hero but also the insult of complete armed forces.
I end up this article with how General Hanut Singh ji expressed his disappointment with the Ashram management and official state establishment through a famous poem that was found in a sentry box in Gibraltar (during WWII) which said:
“God and the soldier
All men adore
In time of trouble,
And no more;
For when war is over
And all things righted,
God is forgotten and
The old soldier slighted.”
If you are in Dehradun, a protest is being organized on this Sunday, 9th September at 9:30 at venkatesh guest house, opposite Police Head Quarters Dehradun.