Flights Of Fantasy
[ M Panging Pao ]
Many Arunachalee old-timers recall the 1962 Sino-India conflict with fear and anger. The Chinese forces entered deep into Arunachal Pradesh along many axes like Taksing-Limeking, Mechuka/Manigong-Tato, Gelling-Tuting, 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 Amar Singh Khattri.
Second lieutenant Amar Singh Khattri was just commissioned as an officer and was just 21 years old. During the Sino-Indian war of 1962, second lieutenant Amar Singh Khattri was officiating commander of a company of the Kumaon Battalion and was deployed in Walong area in present day Anjaw district of Arunachal Pradesh.
During the second phase of the war, second lieutenant Khattri was tasked to patrol forward areas of the trijunction and Yellow Pimple near Walong. During the patrol, it was revealed that Chinese forces had advanced and were deployed in the area. He immediately informed higher formations, asking for reinforcements. Thereafter, under his leadership, the company launched a fierce attack against well-sited and dug-in superior Chinese forces in Yellow Pimple area. The rare attack took the Chinese forces by surprise. This fierce attack led to the delay of the Chinese advance for many hours till arrival of reinforcements.
However, the Chinese forces launched a massive counter attack at 3 am on 14 November, 1962. Though heavily outnumbered, second lieutenant Khattri quickly rallied his men and tried to hold the Chinese attack. Even when he pulled back, he did so very slowly, fighting for every inch of the ground. In the face of very heavy odds, he delayed the enemy advance for over three hours. Finally, he halted the enemy less than a hundred yards below Tri-junction Hill. During the intense battle, second lieutenant Khattri was wounded by a grenade thrown from about 15 yards. Being seriously injured, he was withdrawn from the frontlines for medical care. It is now acknowledged that some of the fiercest fighting occurred in the Walong sector. It is also recorded that inferior Indian forces launched many fierce counter attacks on superior Chinese forces in this sector.
For his exceptional courage, tenacity and gallantry during the war, second lieutenant Amar Singh Khattri was awarded the nation’s third highest gallantry award, the Vir Chakra. Later, second lieutenant Amar Singh Khattri rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel. Salute to second lieutenant Amar Singh Khattri! (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)