2nd Lt Hardev Pal Nayyar (August 17, 1947 - December 11, 1971) was an officer of the 8 Sikh Light Infantry of the Indian Army, who was posthumously awarded The Vir Chakra, India's Third highest gallantry award, for exemplary valour in combat during operations in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971.
He was born to a Punjabi family and grew up in Dasuya Distt Hoshiarpur, India. His father, Sh. Gopal Dass Nayyar, worked as a Station Master in Indian Railway, while his mother, Smt Soma Devi Nayyar was a housewife.
Nayyar received his high-school education from D.A.V. Higher Secondary School, Dasuya, Hoshiarpur. He was a bright student who consistently performed well in academics and sports.
He graduated from the Desh Bandhu Gupta College, New Delhi. and later was commissioned into the 8th Battalion, The Sikh Light Infantry, in 1970 from the OTS Madras.
After joining Indian Army he went for Commando training in Mhow, and successfully completed the course.
Indo Pak conflict
The Pakistan army conducted a widespread genocide against the Bengali population of East Pakistan, aimed in particular at the minority Hindu population, leading to approximately 10 million people fleeing East Pakistan and taking refuge in the neighboring Indian states. The East Pakistan-India border was opened to allow refugees safe shelter in India. The governments of West Bengal, Bihar, Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura established refugee camps along the border. The resulting flood of impoverished East Pakistani refugees placed an intolerable strain on India's already overburdened economy.
General Tikka Khan earned the nickname 'Butcher of Bengal' due to the widespread atrocities he committed. General Niazi commenting on his actions noted 'On the night between 25/26 March 1971 General Tikka struck. Peaceful night was turned into a time of wailing, crying and burning.
General Tikka let loose everything at his disposal as if raiding an enemy, not dealing with his own misguided and misled people. The military action was a display of stark cruelty more merciless than the massacres at Bukhara and Baghdad by Chengiz Khan and Halaku Khan... General Tikka... resorted to the killing of civilians and a scorched earth policy. His orders to his troops were: 'I want the land not the people...' Major General Farman had written in his table diary, "Green land of East Pakistan will be painted red". It was painted red by Bengali blood.'
The Indian government repeatedly appealed to the international community, but failing to elicit any response, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on 27 March 1971 expressed full support of her government for the independence struggle of the people of East Pakistan. The Indian leadership under Prime Minister Gandhi quickly decided that it was more effective to end the genocide by taking armed action against Pakistan than to simply give refuge to those who made it across to refugee camps. Exiled East Pakistan army officers and members of the Indian Intelligence immediately started using these camps for recruitment and training of Mukti Bahini guerrillas.
During the initial phase of assault on the night of 11/12 December 1971 second Lieutenant Hardev Pal Nayyar was Platoon commander in a company which was assigneda task of attacking an enemy Post in the western sector. During the assault, his platoon was held up by automatic fire from the enemy bunkers. Second Lieutenant Hardev Pal Nayyar, with complete disregard of his personal safety, crawled up to two bunkers and silenced them with grenades. While charging into the third bunker, he was hit by a burst of medium machine gun fire. Though seriously wounded, he kept on encouraging his men till the post was captured. Thereafter, he succumbed to his injuries.
11 December 1971 is a red letter day in the history of 8 Sikh L.I. Pak Fatehpur post, fortified on all four sides with high bunds, was a virtual fortress with innumerable automatic and anti-tank weapons deployed for its defence. Its diamond-like shape made it equally difficult to tackle from all side, on the night of 11 December the brave men of 8 Sikh L. I. discounted all difficulties and rushed forward on to this coveted objective, in the face of deadly small arms fire and devastating artillery shelling. Many a gallant soldier fell but others moved on undaunted. Not before long the enemy was either destroyed or in desperate flight, leaving behind large quantity of arms and ammunition. Apparently, the enemy had not accepted final defeat yet,he continued to plaster this position with accurate artillery and mortar fire from several directions. Two counterattacks attempted by him were disorganized by valiant men of 8 Sikh L.I.
In this heroic battle, three officers, one JCO and 32 Ors sacrificed their life and approximately 100 others were wounded. A young battalion, within five years of its raising, had fought its maiden battle in masterly style and had come of age. The number of officers killed, wounded is tribute to the quality of glowing leadership provided by them.
8 Sikh L.I was awarded the Battle Honour Fathepur for this heroic action, Besides, one Mahavir Chakra, five Vir Chakras (2 posthumous), four Sena Medals (2 posthumous) and two Mention-in Despatches (Posthumous) were also awarded.
Recognition and legacy
In this action, 2nd/Lt Hardev Pal Nayyar displayed gallantry, determination and leadership of a high order. He was awarded with the "VIR CHAKRA"(Posth) for his Gallantry by the President of India Sh V.V. Giri.