Profession: Ex Army Personnel Hometown: Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India
|Profession||Retired Indian Army officer|
|Physical Stats & More|
|Height (approx.)||in centimeters– 167 cm
in meters– 1.67 m
in feet & inches– 5’ 6”
|Eye Colour||Dark Brown|
|Service Years||15 June 1966 – 1998|
|Unit||• 45th Cavalry Regiment
• 13th Armoured Regiment
|Service Number||IC – 16957|
|Honours||Mention in Despatches for the Battle of Garibpur (1974)|
|Date of Birth||Not known|
|Hometown||Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India|
|Relationships & More|
|Marital Status||Not known|
Raj Mehta (retired Major General of the Indian Army)
Narinder Mehta (deceased; retired Colonel of the Indian Army)
Some Lesser Known Facts About Balram Singh Mehta
- Brigadier Balram Singh Mehta is a retired Indian Army officer who participated in a tank battle in the Battle of Garibpur in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). He came to the limelight in November 2022 after it was announced that a war film Pippa, which is based on his book, is slated to be released on 2 December 2022.
- On 15 June 1966, after completing his military training at the Indian Military Academy (IMA), Balram Singh Mehta joined the Indian Army’s Armoured Corps’ 45th Cavalry Regiment as a Second Lieutenant.
- During the Battle of Garibpur, which took place on 20 November 1971, Balram Singh Mehta, who had become a Captain by then, served as the Second in Command (2IC) in the C squadron of the 45th Cavalry under the command of Major Daljit Singh Narang.
- After Major Narang’s death during the tank battle at Garibpur, Balram Singh Mehta took over the command of the C squadron and led the squadron towards victory by defeating the Pakistani tanks and capturing the town of Garibpur in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). During the tank battle, the Indian Army lost only two tanks, whereas Pakistan Army lost eight tanks. For his leadership and courage, the Indian Army mentioned Balram Singh Mehta’s name in despatches. During an interview, while talking about the tank battle, Balram said,
I was then the second-in- command of the 45th Cavalry Squadron. We had Russian PT-76 tanks in our fleet. Together with the 14th Punjab Battalion, on the night of 20th November, we crossed the Kabadak river and entered the border of Garibpur… after dawn on the 21st, the Pakistani tank fleet started fighting with our tanks. They had 14 American Chaffee tanks with them. Major Daljit Singh Narang, the commander of our squadron, lost his life in the Pakistani shelling almost at the beginning of the war. As a result, the responsibility of conducting the war fell on me. Just then my tank started malfunctioning. Meanwhile, three Pakistani tanks surrounded us. Almost miraculously we managed to bring down all three tanks. When their gunner was coming out of a Pakistani tank, I stopped the gunner in my tank from firing at him. Later, when we took him as a prisoner of war and gave him tea and biscuits, he was still giving thanks. If the government had given us the permission on that day (the day the Battle of Garibpur was won), we would have driven up till Jessore (Bangladesh) and brought the war to an early end.”
A photograph of 45 Cavalry taken after the end of the Battle of Garibpur
- After getting promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, Balram Singh Mehta raised the 13th Armoured Regiment on 21 December 1984.
- The 13th Armoured Regiment, under Balram Singh Mehta’s command, took part in Operation Brasstacks, which was a military exercise conducted by India on a large scale in Rajasthan from November 1986 to January 1987.
- Balram Singh Mehta was posted to the Army War College in Mhow, where he attended the 1990 batch of the Higher Command course.
- Later, Balram Singh Mehta held several key positions at different formations of the Indian Army like the Strike Corps, Mountain Divisions, and Infantry Divisions. Later, he was deputed to the Cabinet Secretariat.
- In 1998, Balram Singh Mehta voluntarily retired from the Indian Army as a Brigadier after which he worked with the Government of Gujarat till 2001.
- In 2000, while working with the Gujarat government, Balram Singh Mehta established the Entrepreneurship Development Institute, a training institute in Ahmedabad for the officers of the Indian Army who were retiring from their service.
- After leaving employment at the Gujarat government, Balram Singh Mehta served as a Vice-Chancellor (VC) of universities in Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh.
- Balram Singh Mehta is a member of the Jai Jawan Nagrik Samiti, a Surat-based NGO. He has also worked with an Iowa-based NGO named Maharishi Invincible Defence for Peace as its Director General.
- Balram Singh Mehta penned a book on the Battle of Garibpur. The book is titled The Burning Chaffees: A Soldier’s First-Hand Account of the 1971 War and was published in 2016. While talking about his book, Balram said,
I was invited for the regimental lunch of the 45 Cavalry in 2015 by Lt Gen Amit Sharma, then Colonel of the Regiment. Serving and retired officers present there reminded me of my promise to write a book about my first-hand battle experience. The golden jubilee celebrations of the 45 Cavalry were scheduled for early 2016. For a soldier, a promise is a promise.”
A photo of Balram Singh Mehta holding his book The Burning Chaffees: A Soldier’s First-Hand Account of the 1971 War
- In November 2022, Ronnie Screwvala announced that on 2 December 2022, Pippa, a war movie based on Brigadier Balram Singh Mehta’s book, will be released. The film will feature Ishan Khattar in the lead role, who will play the role of Balram Singh Mehta, who was a Captain during the Battle of Garibpur. During an interview, while talking about the film, Balram said,
Over the past few months, his team has assembled big names and talent recognised for excellence. It is the imagination, creativity, experience and talent of Siddharth Roy Kapur to have visualised and conceptualised a war movie while reading the narrative.”