Heroes of 1962 war in Arunachal: Sepoy Suram Chand

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 fierce battles fought by our brave soldiers. One such story is the story of sepoy Suram Chand.

At a very young age, sepoy Suram Chand was posted in the Punjab Regiment and his unit was deployed at Tsengjong, north of Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh during the 1962 Sino-India war. The unit was part of the Indian forces which carried out the forward push along the border in line with the Forward Policy being pursued by the government.

His post manned by a platoon level force was attacked by Chinese forces on 10 October, 1962. Sepoy Suram Chand was assigned to the critical role of operating the light machine gun or LMG.  Although greatly outnumbered by the Chinese forces, and with limited stock of ammunition, sepoy Suram Chand joined the battle with cool courage raining deadly fire from his LMG. His utter disregard for personal safety and his encouraging words infused a spirit of heroism into the men of his section and motivated them. The Chinese attack was beaten back with heavy losses to the enemy. Thereafter the Chinese forces renewed the attack with mortars,

pounding the small area, followed by another wave of Chinese attack which tried to dislodge the platoon. Once again, sepoy Suram Chand’s accurate and deadly fire and his indomitable courage were instrumental in repulsing the attack. Sepoy Suram Chand was, however, hit on the abdomen by a burst of enemy automatic fire. He was bleeding profusely but refused to leave his post. The Chinese launched another attack, on a larger scale, on the same day. Sepoy Suram Chand was hit once again. Unmindful of his wounds and loss of blood, he wrapped a towel around the wound and carried on firing from his LMG. When his rifle group was ordered to withdraw, he held the Chinese forces at bay with deadly LMG fire till the group was out of danger and withdrew safely.

For his exceptional courage, tenacity and gallantry during the war, sepoy Suram Chand was awarded the nation’s third highest gallantry award – Vir Chakra. Salute to sepoy Suram Chand! (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)