Battle of Henkar – II
Flights Of Fantasy
[ M Panging Pao ]
Many Arunachalee veterans and old timers recall the 1962 Indo-Chinese conflict with fear and anger. It is a known fact that the Chinese forces entered deep into Arunachal Pradesh along many axes. The main axes of penetration by the Chinese forces were Tawang-Bomdila-Rupa Axis, Taksing-Limeking Axis, Mechuka/Manigong-Tato Axis, Gelling-Tuting Axis and Kibithoo-Walong Axis.
Though the Chinese forces penetrated without major opposition in most axes, many fierce battles were fought by few units and small groups of soldiers; sometimes supported by local population.
Many readers in Arunachal Pradesh and in our country are unaware of these fierce battles fought by our brave soldiers; many of these brave soldiers remain unknown. In a series of articles about these localised battles of the 1962 Indo-China conflict, the attempt is to showcase these brave soldiers and their exploits.
Henkar Post was located about 25 km north of Manigong in present West Siang district. Rifleman BajiramThapa was part of a platoon of 11 Assam Rifles with the onerous responsibility of defending Henkar post; being the main entry point to Manigong valley.
The Chinese forces penetrated through Dome La and Nayu La passes and attacked Henkar post in overwhelming numbers on 24 October, 1962.
Rifleman Bajiram Thapa was covering the main track leading to the post.
On sight of enemy, he shot dead two advancing enemy soldiers. A burst of enemy fire wounded him in his left hand, but unrelenting, he continued firing and killed yet another enemy soldier. His courage and determination was an inspiration for the platoon and the enemy attack was repulsed.
However, the enemy regrouped and re-attacked with more forces. By this time, the enemy had got very close and Rifleman Bajiram Thapa was wounded once again by the hail of enemy bullets. His platoon was forced to withdraw from the location without him. He was left behind wounded and without food, water and adequate clothing.
Although the Gorkha was physically wounded and isolated without support, mentally he was in full spirits. He hid from the enemy and escaped undetected. He survived the harsh weather and avoided detection by enemy for three days. He was assisted by the local population in this escapade and miraculously succeeded in rejoining his platoon.
For displaying outstanding physical, mental courage, determination with complete disregard for his own safety, Rifleman Bajiram Thapa was decorated with the Vir Chakra, the third highest gallantry award of the nation.
The Battle of Henkar Post has found its mention in the golden pages of history for repulsing four enemy attacks during the 1962 Indo-China conflict. (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)