Former COAS Gen. O P Malhotra passes away

New Delhi, Dec.29 (ANI): Former Chief of Army Staff, General (Retired) O. P. Malhotra passed away due to old age at his residence in Gurgaon. He was 93.

Family sources said that General Malhotra had been ailing for some time and passed away due to old age related symptoms.

General Dalbir Singh, the Chief of Army Staff has expressed his deepest condolences and described General Malhotra’s demise as a great loss to the Indian Army fraternity.

General Om Prakash “OP” Malhotra was born on August 6, 1922 in Srinagar, Kashmir. He was the 13th Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army from 1978 – 1981, the Ambassador of India to Indonesia from 1981 – 1984, and Governor of Punjab and Administrator of Chandigarh from 1990 – 1991.

He received his schooling first at the Model High School, Srinagar, and then at the S P Higher Senior Secondary School, Srinagar. He then attended Government College, Lahore, before being selected to join the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun.

He was commissioned in the Regiment of Artillery as a Second Lieutenant in November 1941. His first assignment was with 26 (Jacobs) Mountain Battery in Razmak, North West Frontier Province. He was later assigned to 15 (Jhelum) Mountain Battery which, as part of the 50th Parachute Brigade, fought against the Japanese during the Second World War on the Burmese front. He distinguished himself as a young officer in The Battle of Sangshak where he was wounded in action.He later became Second-in-Command of 13 (Dardoni) Mountain Battery.

He was made an Instructor at the School of Artillery in Deolali, and in 1946 attended the Long Gunnery Staff Course at the Royal School of Artillery in Larkhill, United Kingdom. He commanded artillery regiments across India between November 1950 and July 1961, including 37 Coorg Anti Tank Regiment, 20 Locating Regiment and 42 Field Regiment.

In between he served at Army HQ, New Delhi, did the Defense Services Staff College course at Wellington and was later an Instructor at the Defense Services Staff College, Wellington. He was then posted from 1962-1965 as the Military and Naval Attache of India to the USSR, concurrently accredited to Poland and Hungary.

Upon his return from Moscow in August 1965, he commanded 1 Artillery Brigade, part of 1 Armoured Division and fought in Sialkot Sector during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965.

After the ceasefire with Pakistan he commanded 167 Mountain Brigade at Sela Pass, Tawang District, North-East Frontier Agency. He was promoted to Major General in September 1967 and commanded the 36 Infantry Division in Saugor for two years. From September 1969 till May 1972 he was Chief of Staff, IV Corps, in Tezpur during the Bangladesh Liberation War. Subsequently, he commanded XI Corps in Jalandhar for two years and was later the GOC-in-C Southern Command located at Pune.

In 1976, General Malhotra was awarded the Param Vishist Seva Medal for “service of the most exceptional order”.

He was Vice Chief of Army Staff before taking over as Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army on May 31, 1978 and served in that post for three years.

He was an Honorary Senior Colonel Commandant of the Regiment of Artillery of the Indian Army and also an Honorary General of the Nepalese Army.

After retiring from the Indian Army on May 31, 1981 after 40 years of distinguished military service, General Malhotra served as the Ambassador of India to Indonesia from 1981-1984. During 1990-1991, General Malhotra was the Governor of Punjab and Administrator of Chandigarh when militancy in that state was at its height.

General Malhotra resigned from his post in protest when planned elections in the state were deferred by the election commission without notice.

He said then that “I have been through three Wars, I have been a general in the wars, but I have never felt as defeated as I feel today after this announcement by the Election Commission that the elections have been postponed.”

A keen sportsman, General Malhotra was for many years the President of the Equestrian Federation of India and the Founder President of the Asian Equestrian Federation.

He was also been the President of the Delhi Golf Club, New Delhi from 1979-1980.

General Malhotra is one of the Founder Trustee’s of the Nehru Trust for the Indian Collections at the Victoria and Albert Museum and served as the President of India’s largest NGO, the “National Association for the Blind” in New Delhi.

He was an active member of the Kiwanis Club of New Delhi, patron of the All India Federation of The Deaf and a Trustee of the Delhi Cheshire Homes. General Malhotra was also the Founder and Chairman Emeritus of two charitable organisations – Shiksha and Chikitsa.

He is survived by his wife Saroj Malhotra and two children. His son, Ajai Malhotra, was Ambassador of India to the Russian Federation from 2011 to 2013. He was also India’s envoy to Kuwait, Romania and Deputy Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations in New York.

General Malhotra’s funeral is expected to be held at Brar Square on December 31, 2015. (ANI)

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