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State funeral for Marshal of AIF Arjan Singh tomorrow; flag to fly half mast in Delhi

Edited by: India TV News Desk New Delhi 17 Sep 2017, 12:06:09 IST
India TV News Desk

A state funeral will be accorded to Marshal of the Indian Air Force Arjan Singh and the national flag will fly at half mast in all government buildings here tomorrow in his honour, the Home ministry said today. 

The last rites of Singh, who passed away at the Army's Research and Referral Hospital yesterday, would be performed at Brar Square here at 10:am tomorrow. 

"As a mark of respect to the departed dignitary, a state funeral will be accorded and national flag will fly half-mast on the day of the funeral (September 18) in Delhi on all buildings where it is flown regularly," a Home Ministry spokesperson said. 

Arjan Singh, the hero of the 1965 India-Pakistan war and the only Air Force officer to be promoted to five-star rank, died here yesterday at the age of 98. 

He was entrusted with the responsibility of leading the IAF when he was only 44 years old, a task he carried out with elan. He was the chief of the IAF when it found itself at the forefront of the 1965 conflict. 

Singh, who had flown more than 60 different types of aircraft, had played a major role in transforming the IAF into one of the most potent air forces globally and the fourth biggest in the world. 

Known as a man of few words, he was not only a fearless fighter pilot but had profound knowledge about air power which he applied in a wide spectrum of air operations. He was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian honour, in 1965.

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. 

President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid tribute to Marshal.

Sad at demise of a great air warrior & Marshal of the Air Force Arjan Singh. Condolences to his family & IAF community. Marshal of the IAF Arjan Singh was a WW II hero & won our nation's gratitude for his military leadership in 1965 war, the President tweeted.

PM Modi tweeted: Marshal of the IAF Arjan Singh’s determined focus on capacity building in the IAF added great strength to our defence capabilities. India will never forget the excellent leadership of Marshal of the IAF Arjan Singh in 1965, when the IAF saw substantial action. Sometime back I met him, who despite his ill health tried to get up to salute even though I said no. Such was his soldier discipline. My thoughts are with his family & those mourning the demise of a distinguished air warrior & fine human, Marshal of the IAF Arjan Singh. 

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman termed Singh's demise as a great loss. She said that the conduct and exemplary nature in which Marshal of IAF Arjan Singh conducted himself will be remembered for generations.

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. 

Singh had led an IAF squadron into combat during the 1944 Arakan Campaign and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) that year. He was the IAF chief from August one, 1964 till July 15, 1969.