The Longewala Fight: When Only 120 Indian Jawans defeated 3,000 Pak soldiers & destroyed 45 tanks

India has given birth to many great warriors and soldiers be it Major Kuldip Singh Chandpuri, Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekhar Azad, Mangal Pandey, Abhinandan Varthaman, and many others. These warriors have sacrificed their lives in order to protect the sovereignty and integrity of the nation. Today we will talk about Brigadier Kuldip Singh Chandpuri who defied Pakistan Army with just 120 soldiers.

This was 4 December 1971 when Pakistan waged a full-fledged war against India. Brigadier Kuldip Singh Chandpuri played a crucial role during the war in which India defeated Pakistan. Over 2000 Pakistani soldiers who were accompanied by 40-45 tanks attacked Indian soldiers who were defending Longewala border post in Rajasthan. Major Kuldip Singh was commanding a company, 23rd Battalion, Punjab Regiment. The Punjab Regiment had only 120 soldiers who were left with the choice of either fighting against 2000 Pakistani soldiers or fleeing away from Longewala post. 

The final decision was to be taken by Major Kuldip Singh who decided to fight a full-fledged war with Pakistan in order to protect Punjab Regiment. Pakistan hatched a plan to capture Longewala, Ramgarh, and Jaisalmer. But Indian soldiers shattered their plan by killing their more than 200 soldiers and destroying about 35 tanks. 

On 4 December 1971, Dharam Veer Bhan’s platoon, while on a patrol, came to know about Pakistani soldiers heading towards Longewala post led by with tanks. Dharam Veer immediately informed Major Kuldip Singh who soon spoke to battalion headquarters requesting urgent reinforcements and armour and artillery support. Battalion HQ provided him with the choice of staying put, and containing the attack as much as possible, or carrying out a tactical retreat of the company to Ramgarh, as reinforcements would not be available for at least six hours. Chandpuri decided to defend the position of the post rather than giving up. 

The Pakistani troops were in a good position with 45 tanks so they were speculating that they would easily defeat the Indian Army and they began the attack at 12:30 am. While Chandpuri inspired his army, moving from bunker to bunker, encouraging them to give the enemy befitting response until reinforcements were made available. Kuldip Singh and his company of 120 soldiers defended the post against the 2000-3000 strong assault force of the Pakistani. Indian soldiers kept the Pakistani troops engaged in war throughout the night until the Indian Air Force arrived to provide air support in the morning. Showing exceptional courage and determination, Chandpuri and his army left the Pakistani soldiers in shock as they received several casualties. Indian army bravely fought against Pakistan and defended Longewala post leaving behind 12 tanks.

Indian Army while enjoying the victory over Pakistan (Photo: Defencelover)

On the other hand, the Indian Air Force was ready to protect Punjab Regiment. the IAF arrived at the post in the morning and carried out a massive airstrike on Pakistan which resulted in destroying 30-35 Pakistani tanks. Over 200 Pakistani soldiers died in this battle and few Indian casualties happened. Kuldip Singh and his men managed to inflict heavy losses on the Pakistanis. The Pakistanis lost 34 tanks and 500 other vehicles during the battle. Pakistan made a huge mistake by underestimating the Indian Army, as a result, they suffered a huge loss. Major Kuldip Singh was honored with India’s second highest gallantry award, the Maha Vir Chakra. Several other awards were given to members of the defending company, and the battalion’s commander. On the other hand, the Pakistani divisional commander was dismissed from service.

James Hatter compared the Battle of Longewala as to the Battle of Thermopylae in his article. The Battle of Longewala was depicted in the 1997 Bollywood film Border, directed by J.P. Dutta. We all remember that Kuldip Singh Chandpuri was famously portrayed by Sunny Deol in this movie. 

Whenever India came under any threat, Without a second thought freedom fighters and great warriors have sacrificed their lives in order to protect the sovereignty and integrity of the nation. We salute Major Kuldip Singh for his determination.

Writer, historian, and activist Dharam Sikarwar is a very active author The Youth. He writes on national and international issues, environment, politics. He is an avid book reader as well.