In August 1947, the 6th Battalion of Jammu and Kashmir was ordered to move to Skardu with as many troops as possible. Skardu had been attacked and surrounded by the enemy (Pakistani tribesmen backed by their regular Army) of approximately 600 strong strength. The enemy was routed under the determined leadership of Lt Col Sher Jung Thapa.

Unable to capture the fort, the enemy laid to siege to the fort, which continued for six months. All attempts of the enemy to capture the fort were thwarted every time under the dynamic and inspiring leadership of Lt Col Sher Jung Thapa.

As the siege continued for long, Maj Gen KS Thimayya asked Lt Col Sher Jung Thapa to surrender, which he stoutly opposed and continued to hold on to the fort steadfastly.

On the fateful day of August 14, 1948, the gallant survivors of the 6th battalion were utterly exhausted and on the verge of starvation, without ammunition, ration and any hope of succour from outside. The troops had no alternative but to capitulate. Officer Lt Col Sher Jung Thapa, however, displayed indomitable resolve and determination beyond the call of duty and was awarded Mahavir Chakra, the second highest gallantry award of the country. Thapa was commissioned into the Army in 1957. He eventually rose to become a brigadier.

Skardu Fort (1852 image) which housed Thapa's garrison

(Above) Skardu Fort (1852 image) which housed Thapa's garrison: This file is from the Mechanical Curator collection, a set of over 1 million images scanned from out-of-copyright books and released to Flickr Commons by the British Library.