Flights Of Fantasy
[ M Panging Pao ]
Many Arunachalee old-timers recall the 1962 Indo-Chinese conflict with fear and anger. The Chinese forces entered deep into Arunachal along many axes like Taksing-Limeking, Mechuka/Manigong-Tato, Gelling-Tuting and Kibithoo-Walong axes and the main Tawang-Bomdila-Rupa axis. Many readers are not aware of fierce battles fought by our brave soldiers. One such story is the story of major Mahander Singh Chaudhary.
Just before the Sino-Indian war of 1962, Maj Mahander Singh Chaudhary’s Unit 9 Punjab was deployed north of Tawang in the NEFA sector. On 9 October, 1962 Maj Chaudhary was ordered to establish a post with two platoons at Sinjang, north of the log bridge in the NEFA sector. Before the war on 10 October, his post was attacked by a large Chinese force of more than battalion strength (about 1,000 soldiers). This attack was sudden and Maj Chaudhary and his troops did not have
sufficient time to dig in and prepare defences to fortify their positions. But Maj Chaudhary rallied his soldiers and motivated them to repulse the attack in a coordinated manner. The enemy forces attacked in waves and, despite being armed with only light arms and insufficient ammunition, he and his soldiers managed to keep the enemy at bay for more than nine hours. Considering the desperate situation, his unit was ordered to withdraw by higher headquarters and Maj Chaudhary withdrew his men south of the log bridge. However, the main Chinese attack during the 1962 Sino-Indian war commenced on 20 October. Although wounded, Maj Chaudhary refused to be evacuated and continued to lead his men in the subsequent operation on 20 October. Under his leadership, his soldiers drove back successive waves of attack by Chinese forces and inflicted more than 100 casualties on the enemy. However, during this intense battle, Maj Chaudhary was martyred on 21 October, 1962.
For his undaunted courage, leadership, indomitable spirit and supreme sacrifice, Maj Mahander Singh Chaudhary was awarded the nation’s second highest gallantry award, the Maha Vir Chakra. Salute to Maj Mahander Singh Chaudhary! (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)