Villagers remember forgotten first ‘Mahavir Chakra’ winner from Munsiyari village
Pithoragarh, Nov 22
Deewan Singh Danu, the first soldier of the Indian Army to be awarded the second highest gallantry award of independent India, ‘Mahavir Chakra’ for his extraordinary valour and bravery against tribal invaders attack in Badgam area of Jammu and Kashmir on November 3, 1947, remained neglected by army and political dispensation, in last 76 years, till the villagers themselves came forward to install his statue and citation in his village this year.
Deewan Singh Danu, a resident of Purdam, village of Birthi region of Munsiyari sub-division of Pithoragarh district, was deputed near Badgam area of Jammu and Kashmir, in November 1947, following intervention of Indian Army in October 1947 when Pakistani army disguised as tribals attacked the Budgam airport.
Deewan Singh Danu, who was a brengunner of platoon 1, of 11th company 4th Kumaon regiment,who was deputed to stop the attack. He fired on the advancing invaders killing fifteen of them, despite been injured in the shoulder. Finding him as the only hurdle in capturing the Badgam airport, the enemy fired on him incessantly from all round. Deewan Singh Danu laid his life for the country and not let the enemy take Badgam airport.
“His sacrifice was later commended by Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India,” said Kishan Singh Brithwal, aresident of Birthi village, who mobilized the locals to install the statue of the martyr, this year.
“We came to know of his sacrifice and about being awarded with the second highest military gallantry award of the country, when I saw his citations in 2010 after I retired from army,” said Kishan Singh Birthwal.
“The statue and memorial of the martyr was inaugurated by Dharchula MLA, Harish Dhami, on November 3, 2023 on his martyrdom day. The money, more than two lakh rupees were contributed by four persons namely ,Jagat Singh Brithwal, Ramesh Singh Brithwal, Vikram Singh Brithwal and Dev Singh Brithwal of Birthi village,” said Kishan Singh Brithwal.
Although Kumaon Regimental Center at Ranikhet has named a hall after Deewan Singh Danu, but no army, civil officers or any politicians visited his village in the last 76 years to search for his near relatives or pay homage to him.
” The high school (now intermediate College) at Birthi was named after him by the orders of Governor of Uttarakhand state in the year 2009, but not even district administration officers visited at the naming ceremony,” said Kishan Singh Birthwal.
Pan Singh Danu,(85) youngest brother of Late Deewan Singh Danu is the only survivor in his family as his wife had left the home after his martyrdom and his parents died later.
“After his been awarded by second highest gallantry award of country, the Prime Minister announced to give 20 acres of cultivable land to his next of kin but due to lack of communication and transportation in this remote part of border, no family members could claim it,” said Pan Singh Danu, the youngest brother of the martyr.
The villagers of Birthi and Purtham are now mulling to construct a decorated gateway at Birthi, the entry point to his village Purtham.” Though, the local MLA has promised to help but we have decided to construct the entry gate and organise a mass gathering on his martyrdom day next year, in which the state Chief Minister, Sainik Kalyan Minister and army officers from Kumaon Regimental Center, Ranikhet would be invited to make the nation know about the valour and bravery of Dewwan Singh Danu who laid down his life at the age of 24 years for the sake of Independent India,” said Kishan Singh Birthwal.