Company Havildar Major Piru Singh Shekhawat (20 May 1918 – 18 July 1948) was a soldier in the British Indian Army. He died in service during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947. He was posthumously awarded the Param Vir Chakra, India's highest award for valour in the face of the enemy.
Singh enrolled in the British Indian Army on 20 May 1936, and was assigned to the 1st Punjab Regiment. Between 1940 and 1945, he served on the North-West Frontier and as an instructor, before deploying to Japan as part of the Allied Forces. After independence, he took part in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947, serving with the Indian Army's 6th Rajputana Rifles.
During the Jammu & Kashmir operations in the summer of 1948, Pakistani army had captured the village of Tithwal in the hills of Kashmir. In order to strengthen the advance on the Tithwal sector, the Indian Army dispatched the 6 Rajputana Rifles into Tithwal. The offensive began on 11th July and went on till 15th July. Two companies were sent to secure the features in this area. CHM Piru Singh was commanding the company ‘D’ which was to secure the first feature. The path to the enemy post, however, was a narrow ridge with deep ravines on either side and was overlooked by enemy bunkers, which put them in the direct line of fire of the enemy MMG posts.
Within half an hour of their advance, more than half of the company was down. CHM Piru Singh was leading the front sector. When the enemy fire rained heavily upon them, CHM Piru Singh advanced ahead to take out the MMG posts. Enemy grenade splinters ripped open his clothes and wounded several parts of his body. Yet, he advanced to eliminate the attackers from the hills. Rushing forward he bayoneted the crew of the enemy MMG and occupied the post. Most of his company had fallen by this time.
Injured and alone, he left the trench and pushed ahead to take out the second MMG post. Along the way, a grenade struck him and half his face was bleeding. His ammunition was spent and he was gravely injured, yet he did not back down. He threw a grenade into a trench of the second post. He bayoneted two men in another trench and thus secured the second MMG post. While emerging from the second post, he was struck in the head with a bullet and was seen dropping over the edge of the enemy trench. But a loud explosion could be heard in the third MMG post, affirming that CHM Piru Singh’s grenade had done its job. CHM Piru Singh fell to his injuries but had bravely and selflessly completed his mission.
CHM Piru Singh was given the nation’s highest gallantry award, “Param Vir Chakra” posthumously for his profound bravery, extreme devotion and self-sacrifice to his motherland.