Gurgaon, Dec 29 (IANS) Soldier, diplomat, governor: General Om Prakash Mehra, who died of old age complications at his residence on Tuesday, wore all three hats with aplomb and was among the last of the veterans who had seen action in the Second World War.
The was the 13th chief of the Indian Army from 1978 to 1981; India’s ambassador to Indonesia from 1981 to 1984 and governor of Punjab and administrator of Chandigarh from 1990 to 1991, at the time when militancy was at its peak.
Born in Srinagar, on August 6, 1922, General Malhotra initially schooled at the city’s Model High School and later at the S.P Higher Senior Secondary School in the same city.
He attended Government College, Lahore, before qualifying for the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun, being commissioned in the Regiment of Artillery in 1941.Gen. Malhotra saw action against the Japanese front during the Second World War.
He served in and commanded artillery regiments across India between November 1950 and July 1961, served as an instructor at the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, and was the Military and Naval Attache at the Indian embassy in Moscow from 1962-1965.
From August 1965 to January 1966, General Malhotra commanded an artillery brigade and then a mountain brigade in northeast India.A
In 1976, General Malhotra was awarded the Param Vishist Seva Medal for “service of the most exceptional order”. He was the vice chief of army staff before being elevated on May 31, 1978 to chief of army staff, a post he occupied for three years.
After retiring from the Indian Army on May 31, 1981 General Malhotra served his diplomatic and gubernatorial appointments before resigning after elections were cancelled in Punjab due to heightned militancy.
General Malhotra was also a keen sportsman and was for many years the President of the Equestrian Federation of India and the Founder President of the Asian Equestrian Federation.
He has also been the President of the Delhi Golf Club.
The general is survived by his wife Saroj Malhotra and two children.
His son, Ajai Malhotra, was the Indian ambassador to the Russian Federation, Kuwait and Romania, and was also India’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York.