Inderjit Gill was born in Madras, Southern India, in 1919, the son of a Royal Medical Corps officer who later became Inspector General of Prisons in the province. As Madras's head jailer, his father became friendly with the political activist Chakravarti Rajagopalachari, who was frequently imprisoned during the freedom struggle against the colonial government. After independence in 1947 Rajagopalachari became the first Indian Governor- General and the friendship between inmate and jailer persevered and led to Gill's father's making Madras his home. The famous Gill Nagar is a tribute to Gill's ancestry and roots in Chennai.
After schooling in Madras, Gill went to England to study but ended up joining the Royal Engineers in 1942, volunteering for Operation Harling and spent the remainder of the war involved in undercover operations in the Mediterranean sector. His well publicised feats reportedly led to his being the inspiration behind the fictitious Lt Kip in Michael Ondaatje's 1992 novel The English Patient, which won the Booker Prize and the 1996 film of which reaped several Oscars. Like Gill, the actor Naveen Andrews who played the role of Kip in the film had his roots in Madras.
Gill returned home just before independence in 1947 and nine years later commanded the elite 1 Para Regiment which was part of the United Nations peacekeeping contingent in Egypt and the Sinai. During the second war with Pakistan in 1965 Gill, then commanding a parachute brigade, used his Second World War experience as a guerrilla fighter to track down hundreds of Pakistani infiltrators in Kashmir.
Twenty four years later, as the Indian Army's Director, Military Operations, Gill, then a major-general, once again displayed the same soldierly qualities and blunt reasonableness by planning and executing the defeat of the Pakistani army in 1971. He never left his operational headquarters for the fortnight- long war that ended with the capture of over 91,000 Pakistani soldiers and the formation of Bangladesh. A few months later he was responsible for delineating the line of control that divided the northern disputed Kashmir state between the rival claimants, India and Pakistan.
Legendary exploits Lt Gen Inderjit Singh Gill by Kuldip Singh
Recent picture of Lt Gen Inder Gill (on the right) with the demolition member. Find details at Operation Harling Sep 1942. Lt Gen inderjit Singh Gill PVSM, MC, passed away on May 30, 2001.
It is a refreshing departure to read about the life and times of a dedicated, principled officer and a gentleman, who shunned fame or media plaudits for his brilliant military career, and who many thought should have made it to the post of Army Chief. Lieutenant-General Gill is unfortunately no more, but that is no reason not to find his conduct and values worth emulating, as Muthiah as seen fit to announce in the book titled "The Tales of an officer and a Gentleman", reviewed by Sreya Ray.
The Life of Lt Gen Inderjit Singh Gill, PVSM, MC
Born to Dare by S Muthiah
Naveen Andrews starring as Lt Kip Singh, the Sikh with a talent for defusing bombs who finds a romantic connection with co-star Juliet Binoche- the English patient's nurse- in the Academy Award-winning romantic epic, Michael Ondaatje's 1992 novel "The English Patient". It is believed that Lt Kip, the Sikh Sapper is modelled from real life exploits of Inderjit Singh Gill the WWII British Sapper demolition expert in Greece, 1942, who subsequently joined the Indian Army Para Brigade in 1947.
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