Maj Gen Rajinder Singh Sparrow
Major General Rajinder Singh, nicknamed ‘Sparrow’, was born on 3 October 1911. He joined the Indian army as a soldier on 3 October 1932, and was selected for a commission. He underwent training at the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun, where he earned blues in hockey and cricket. He was commissioned into the unattached list on 1 February 1938, and posted to 7 Light Cavalry on 24 February 1939. He saw service in World War II and took over the command of the Regiment in September 1947.
In 1948, Pakistani invaders occupied the 11000 ft high Zoji La Pass. It was found difficult to dislodge them. Major General K S Thimayya, DSO decided to send tanks to surprise the enemy. Lt. Col. Rajinder Singh, CO of 7th Light Cavalry achieved the unique task of taking his tanks on the pass in spite of overwhelming odds. The enemy was completely surprised and abandoned the pass. This was a record of highest altitude for employment to tanks. Lt. Col Rajinder Singh was awarded M V C.
Earlier, he held the appointment of regimental Colonel of the 7th Light Cavalry from July 1959 to July 1969.
In 1965, infiltration by a large number of militants and attack by Pakistan in Akhnur sector led to a general war between the two countries. The 1 Armoured Division under command of Major General Rajinder Singh Sparrow was assigned the task of capture of Phillora and Pagiwal in the Sialkot sector. The enemy had two regiments of armour in the area. The attack on 11 September resulted in the biggest tank battle since the Second World War. Lt. Col. Tarapore, commanding officer, 17 Horse, displayed outstanding leadership and was awarded PVC. Sixty nine Pakistani tanks were destroyed against nine of our own. Phillora was cleared by 16 September. Major General Sparrow had led his formation to win against a better equipped and numerically superior enemy. He was awarded MVC again.
During the Pakistan aggression in 1965 Maj Gen Rajinder Singh Sparrow was General Officer Commanding I Armoured Division. As a result of his brilliant handling of the Division, Pakistani Armoured Corps, pride of Pakistan Army was defeated. Major General Rajinder Singh got a bar to his Maha Vir Chakra.
After retirement in September 1966, he joined politics and became minister (Punjab) in the short-lived Gurnam Singh ministry in 1967. Later, he was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1980 and 1985 from Jalandhar constituency as a candidate of Indian National Congress.
Maj. Gen. Rajinder Singh breathed his last in May 1994, at the age of 83.