23 years on, son fulfils fallen soldier’s dream

CHANDIGARH: Navteshwar Singh of Mohali joined the Army as a lieutenant on Saturday, keeping a promise made in his father’s “baby book” 23 years ago. Major Harminder Singh, who lost his life in the line of duty in J&K in April 1999, had expressed the desire to see his son follow in his footsteps.
Born merely three months before his father’s death, Lieutenant Navteshwar embarked on this path despite his mother’s initial reservations, honouring the legacy of a family dedicated to serving the nation.
The story unfolds through three generations. Lieutenant Navteshwar’s grandfather, Captain Harpal Singh, served in the artillery regiment, instilling a sense of duty and valour in the family’s DNA. Lieutenant Navteshwar’s father, Major Harminder Singh, embodied these virtues during his time in the Army. In recognition of his raw courage in a gunfight with militants in Kashmir, Major Harminder was posthumously awarded the Shaurya Chakra.
Lieutenant Navteshwar was commissioned into the 18 Grenadiers, the same regiment where his father had served with distinction, following his graduation from the Officer Training Academy on Saturday. The piping ceremony, attended by family members, including both paternal and maternal grandmothers, marked a deeply emotional moment for the entire family. His mother Rupinder Pal Kaur recalled that her husband was just 29 years old when he made the ultimate sacrifice for the nation. Naturally, she had reservations about sending her son into the Army.
However, Lieutenant Navteshwar was determined and motivated. He lived with the echoes of his father’s words, inscribed in his “baby book”, where Major Harminder expressed his desire to see his son become an officer in the 18 Grenadiers.
Major Harminder’s time with his son was heartbreakingly brief, as he departed for his duty in the Valley when his son was just a month old. His unit had been deployed in Baramulla and they received information about the presence of militants in Sudarkut Bala village, approximately 40km north of Srinagar. The firefight in which he laid down his life was marked by valour, as he continued to fight despite taking bullets in his left arm and temple.

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