Hanoot Singh, A Life Lived Less Ordinary

Remembering General Hanoot, The Hero of Indian Victory against Pakistani offenses in West, when fierce battle was going on in east.
Lt. General Hanoot
Lt. General HanootCredit- Col Nawal Singh

Early Life

Hanoot Singh was born on 6 July 1933, to Lt. Col. Arjun Singh Rathore of Jasol royal family.

He was sent off to colonel Brown’s boarding school, Dehradun for education at early age. Hanoot proved to be an excellent student and got double promotion from 7th standard to 9th standard.

At a very early age Hanoot remained engrossed in studying martial history of Rajput and took great pride in his heritage.

Hanoot would later join Indian Military Academy and post training got commissioned in Poona Horse, the elite cavalry regiment of the Indian Army. Previously his uncle and father had done stints with the Poona Horse hence it was an obvious choice for the young Hanoot to join this elite unit of the Indian army.

Hanoot During School Days
Hanoot During School DaysCredit- Col. Rajawat
Younger hanoot
Younger hanoot

Early Years in Army

During those days, most of the officers of the Poona horse were of feudal background and the regiment earned the nick name of ‘Kunwar sahibs’ regiment’. Hanoot was pained to hear certain unwanted comments from other senior officers of the army and decided to do something about it.

In fact, it became Hanoot’s self-imposed mission to raise the standard of the regiment. He motivated other officers to do likewise, as a result of which Poona Horse, earned Param Vir Chakra in both 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak wars and earned a legendary position in annals of the Indian Army.

In 1971, Hanoot himself was commanding the unit and it was under his command that a 21-year-old young officer Arun Khetarpal was recommended for the PVC. Hanoot himself was decorated with Mahavir Chakra. To top it all, Pakistan army itself conferred the title of “Fakr-e-hind” upon the Poona Horse regiment.

Hanoot was respected by the men he commanded and admired by his commanders. His influence of the regiment and its officers was such that sooner he would earn the nickname ‘Gurudev’.

Hanoot’s free time was often spent in his spiritual pursuits and reading books. His admiration for books was such that he preferred to be left alone with a good book, over needless pursuit of socializing and unwanted talks which goes with it.

By mid-fifties British Army’s Centurion tanks were inducted to the Indian army, Hanoot, who was a young captain at the time was sent to UK to attend centurion tank gunnery course, which he passed with distinction.  After return from Course Hanoot was appointed as gunnery instructor at Armored corps Center, Ahmednagar. Hanoot rewrote the curriculum which remained the bedrock of Armored training till Centurions remained in service.

Hanoot deeply studied German Panzer warfare techniques and developed a doctrine of warfare and techniques for the armored corps on its basis. Even today notes written by Hanoot remain bedrock of armored corps training.

Hanoot Singh
Hanoot Singh
Hanoot Singh with his troops
Hanoot Singh with his troops
Hanoot singh with fellow officers
Hanoot singh with fellow officers

1971 War and Later life

Hanoot was given the command of 17 Poona Horse in September 1971 and was posted in the western front when war broke out in east.

During an offensive in Punjab sector, his unit came across a 600-meter-long minefield, which was successfully negotiated without a single causality. His Staff officer Arjun Singh attributes it to the spiritual power of general Hanoot. It was during this time that a young second lieutenant Arun Khetrapal, would fight fearlessly and get awarded with PVC posthumously while he gives the supreme sacrifice.

After getting promoted as Lt. Gen., Hanoot was tasked to lead the operation ‘Brass Tracks’, the most ambitious operation of the Indian army.

It is well known that during the operation brass tracks, India and Pakistan almost went into a war. The situation was timely diffused, but Hanoot and his men were disappointed as they were itching for opportunity carry out an offensive in the enemy territory.

Despite impeccable service record and despite being the greatest military commander of all time. Hanoot was denied promotion as Army Chief. To which Hanoot replied “It is their loss, not Mine.”

Hanoot hung his uniform in 1991. Post-retirement Hanoot led a life of an ascetic in an ashram at Dehradun till he left for his heavenly abode on 14th April 2015.

Hanoot with his Guru.
Hanoot with his Guru.
Lt. General Hanoot
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