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 Pradesh along many axes like Taksing-Limeking, Mechuka/Manigong-Tato, Gelling-Tuting and the Kibithoo-Walong axes, and the main Tawang-Bomdila-Rupa axis. Many readers are not aware of the fierce battles fought by our brave soldiers. One such story is the story of second lieutenant Bhagwan Dutt Dogra.
At just 22 years old, young second lieutenant Bhagwan Dutt Dogra was just commissioned into the Indian Army as an officer and was posted to 1/9 Gurkha Rifles and the unit was posted in the Tsangdhar area in the NEFA. On 20 October, 1962, the Chinese attack commenced with heavy bombardment with artillery at dawn. This was followed by attack by the main infantry forces. The main attack was subjected to the left flank of the position held by the 1/9 Gorkha Rifles battalion in the Tsangdhar area. Second lieutenant Bhagwan Dutt Dogra’s platoon was on this flank, guarding a track leading to the main company position. His platoon of about 30-40 soldiers came under intense fire and was attacked by no less than 200 Chinese soldiers. Though heavily outnumbered, second lieutenant Dogra’s men held their ground and broke the initial assault. However, the Chinese forces attacked in waves with more forces.
Seeing the desperate situation, 2nd lieutenant Dogra himself moved from bunker to bunker, infusing confidence in his men, and continued to do so even when wounded in the face and bleeding profusely. Observing that the light machine gun (LMG) of the section had stopped firing, 2nd lieutenant Dogra, in complete disregard for his personal safety, ran through the hail of enemy fire, grabbed the LMG and started firing, inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy. Later during the same battle, he gave covering fire for the withdrawal of his men till his machine gun was destroyed and he was captured.
For his gallant action and bravery, second lieutenant Bhagwan Dutt Dogra was awarded the nation’s second highest gallantry award, the Maha Vir Chakra. Salute to second lieutenant Bhagwan Dutt Dogra! (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)