Battle of Walong I
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 the Tawang-Bomdila-Rupa Axis, the Taksing-Limeking Axis, the Mechuka/Manigong-Tato Axis, the Gelling-Tuting Axis, and the Kibithoo-Walong Axis. Though the Chinese forces penetrated without major opposition in most axes, many fierce battles were fought by a few units and small groups of soldiers, sometimes supported by local population. Many readers in Arunachal Pradesh and in our country are not aware of these fierce battles fought by our brave soldiers; many of these brave soldiers remain unknown and unsung. In a series of articles about these localized battles of the 1962 Indo-China Conflict, the attempt is to showcase these brave soldiers and their exploits.
Unlike some other areas, many fierce battles were fought by both sides in the Walong-Kibithoo sector. Sarla Post was located about between Walong and Kibithoo in present Anjaw district. The post was defended by troops from 6 Kumaon Regiment, including Naik Bahadur Singh.
On 21 October 1962, just short of midnight, battalion-level enemy forces attacked Sarla post under the cover of artillery and medium machine gun (MMG) fire.
The Indian forces retaliated fiercely with 3-inch mortar fire and MMG fire. The enemy attack was successfully repulsed after heavy fighting. In this action about 60 enemy troops were killed.
However, the enemy forces regrouped and renewed their attack on the post with larger numbers of troops. Being totally outnumbered, the Indian forces carried out a tactical withdrawal towards Walong. However, Naik Bahadur Singh and his team fought the enemy forces fiercely till he ran out of bullets. Despite being gravely injured, he and his team fought and engaged the enemy in close combat with bayonets. Being grievously injured, Naik Bahadur Singh succumbed to his injuries and was martyred.
For displaying outstanding physical and mental courage, determination with complete disregard for own safety, Naik Bahadur Singh was posthumously decorated with the Vir Chakra – the third highest gallantry award of the nation.
The Battle of Sarla in Walong area has found its mention in the golden pages of history during the 1962 Indo-China conflict. (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)