The Basantar River in Shakagarh was of crucial importance during the 1971 Indo-Pak war. Its narrow neck commanded the approach to battles against each other that winter.
On 5th December, the 3 Grenadiers, with Lt. Col. Ved Parkash Airy in command, began advancing into Basantar, fully aware of enemy minefields and fortified defences positioned across the vast region. The positions of Lahore and Jarpal had to be secured to help establish an Indian bridgehead on the river.
The Grenadiers crept in, carefully evading the deep minefields. As they commenced their attack a barrage of enemy fire greeted them. A long and furious battle followed. Several Indians lost their lives. Urged on by the Lt. Col., Grenadiers continued to fight and finally secured the two positions.
Two days later, the Pakistanis launched a determined offensive, Once again the lt. Col. was a figure of inspiration as he led his men fearlessly through the trenches. After heavy fighting, the enemy were forced to admit defeat, and retreated, having lost 87 of their men.
Lt. Col. Airy was awarded the Mahavir Chakra for his determination and inspirational leadership.