Flights Of Fantasy
[ M Panging Pao ]
14-15 November marks the 59th anniversary of the Sino-India war of 1962, wherein the Chinese forces recommenced attack after a gap of three weeks. It is known that Chinese forces entered deep into Arunachal Pradesh along many axes like Tawang-Bomdila-Rupa, Taksing-Limeking, Mechuka/Manigong-Tato, Gelling-Tuting and Kibithoo-Walong axes.
During the first phase of the war from 20-28 October, 1962, the Chinese forces had overrun Tawang in the Kameng sector, Kibithoo in the Lohit sector, Taksing in the Subansiri sector, and Manigong and Gelling in the Siang sector. Many fierce battles were fought in most sectors despite being heavily outnumbered.
In a rare offensive action during the war, on 14 November, 1962, forces of the 6 Kumaon launched an attack to capture Yellow Pimple and Green Pimple in the Walong sector. Fierce battles were fought and the 6 Kumaon achieved much success pushing back the enemy. The Chinese counterattacked with more forces, using automatic weapons, and the intense battle lasted for more than 24 hours. In this offensive action, the 6 Kumaon lost 67 soldiers with many others injured. During this battle, the hero of the first phase of the war, Lt Bikram Singh, again led his troops with gusto and was martyred.
On 17 November, 1962, the battle of Nuranang for the defence of Sela Pass was fought, wherein Lance Naik Trilok Negi, Rifleman Jaswant Singh Rawat and Rifleman Gopal Gusain of the 4 Garhwal Rifles neutralized an enemy MMG post. For this gallant action, Jaswant Singh Rawat was awarded the Maha Vir Chakra with Trilok Negi and Gopal Gusain being awarded Vir Chakras. Today, Jaswantgarh has become a legendry tourist spot.
Another gallant battle was fought on 18 November, 1962, by Havildar Shere Thapa of the 2 Jammu & Kashmir Rifles in the Limeking sector. The heroic action by Shere Thapa delayed the Chinese advance for nearly 72 hours, wherein 70 Chinese soldiers were killed. The Chinese recognized his bravery by burying his body and erecting a wooden epitaph with an inscription appreciating the fighting qualities of Shere Thapa. A memorial honouring Havildar Shere Thapa for his courage and supreme sacrifice was erected by the local public.
There were also tragic stories in the Mechuka-Tato axis. While withdrawing from Mechuka to Tato, the commanding officer of the 2/8 GR along with 35 soldiers decided to take a hunter’s trek during the night of 18/19 November, 1962. This party got lost in the wild jungles and mountains and were never found. The main party of the 2/8 GR was ambushed by the Chinese short of Tato and the battalion lost 42 and 12 were taken as prisoners of war. It is said that remnants of the missing soldiers are being found in present days also.
The 1962 Sino-India war is a grim reminder of war and its terrible effects. India as a nation must prepare well by building infrastructure along the border states, equipping and training the military well, and become an economic power to tackle this dangerous and powerful threat. China must realize that this is not the India of 1962. (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)