Captain Gurbachan Singh Salaria was born on 29th November 1935 in village Jangla near Dinanagar in Pathankot district, Punjab. His father was Chaudhary Munshi Ram Salaria.
He studied from Rashtriya Military School, Bangalore (erstwhile King George School, Bangalore) and Rashtriya Military School, Chail (erstwhile King George School, Jalandhar). After schooling, he joined the 9th batch of National Defence Academy at Khadakwasla. He was commissioned in the 1st Gorkha Rifles (the Maluan Regiment) on 9 June 1957; he was posted to the third battalion of the Regiment.
In 1961, after the Belgians quit Congo, a civil war situation developed in that country. When the United Nations decided upon military intervention, India sent a brigade of around 3000 men to the U.N. force. Captain Salaria was a member of the peace keeping mission and was posted in Katanga, Congo. Katanga was a major trouble area in the country and the rebels there were especially against UN troops.
On 5 December 1961, a 3/1 GR Company supported by 3-inch mortar attacked a road-block, established by the Katangese troops, between HQ Katanga command and the Elisabethville airfield at a strategic roundabout. The plan was to attack the post from the front with the help of Swedish armoured vehicles. Captain Salaria arrived about 1500 yards from the blockade and instantly met with very heavy fire from automatic assault rifles from undetected enemy dugouts on his right.
Seeing the importance of this roundabout in securing the UN Headquarters, Captain Salaria decided to act and led a charge with bayonets, khukris, and grenades supported by a rocket launcher. In this gallant effort, he and his men killed 40 of the enemy troops. This completely unexpected move demoralized the rebel troops and they fled away. Captain Salaria was shot in the neck in the combat. But this didn’t deterred him and he continued to fight till he collapsed due to loss of blood.
Captain Salaria's actions prevented the Katangese rebels from encircling the UN Headquarters in Elisabethville. His leadership, courage, unflinching devotion to duty and disregard for personal safety were in the best traditions of the Indian Army and for this Captain Gurbachan Singh Salaria was posthumously awarded the highest wartime medal, Param Vir Chakra.