New Delhi: War hero Marshal Arjan Singh, who led the Indian Air Force during the 1965 India-Pakistan conflict passed away today. Ninety-eight-year-old Singh, the only officer of the IAF to be promoted to five-star rank, equal to a Field Marshal in the Army, was admitted to the Army's Research and Referral hospital this morning after he suffered a cardiac arrest, the defence ministry said. A team of doctors was monitoring his condition at Cardio- Thoracic and Vascular Centre of the Army hospital. (All images:ANI)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and the three Service chiefs -- Gen. Bipin Rawat, Admiral Sunil Lanba and Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa -- visited Singh at the hospital. "Went to R&R Hospital to see Marshal of the Indian Air Force Arjan Singh, who is critically ill. I also met his family members," Modi tweeted.
"We are all praying for the speedy recovery of Marshal of the Indian Air Force Arjan Singh. Doctors are doing their best," he said. Sitharaman expressed the hope that Singh would recover at the earliest, adding his condition remained critical. An icon in the country's military history, Singh had led a fledgling IAF in the 1965 Indo-Pak war when he was just a 44-year-old.
As Pakistan launched its Operation Grand Slam with an armoured thrust targeted at the vital town of Akhnoor in Jammu and Kashmir, he led the IAF through the war with courage, determination and professional skill. The fighter pilot, who inspired the IAF despite constraints on the full-scale use of air combat power, was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian honour, in 1965. Born on April 15, 1919 in Lyallpur in Punjab in undivided India, his father, grandfather and great grandfather had served in the cavalry. Educated at Montgomery, British India (now in Pakistan), he had joined the RAF College, Cranwell in 1938 and was commissioned as a Pilot Officer in December the following year.