Flights Of Fantasy
[ M Panging Pao ]
Many Arunachali 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, Kibithoo-Walong Axis 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 Naik Chain Singh.
Naik Chain Singh was born on 19 October 1931 in Gurdaspur district of Punjab and was enrolled in the Punjab Regiment at the age of 20. Naik Chain Singh served in various places with different terrain and operational conditions and by 1962 when the Sino-India War broke out he had already put in more than 10 years of service and evolved into a battle hardened soldier.
During the Sino-India war of 1962, Naik Chain Singh’s unit 9 Punjab was deployed in erstwhile NEFA (Arunachal Pradesh). 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.
Naik Chain Singh was commanding a section of 9 Punjab in Tsangle area, north of Tawang. On 9 October 1962, his platoon was tasked to move from Tsangle to reinforce a vital position at Tsengjong, north of the Namkha Chu river. Later, one more platoon joined them to increase the strength of the position to 56 soldiers. The troops had limited ammunition to fight and hardly any time to prepare their defences.
On the morning of 10 October then, 500 Chinese forces attacked their post concentrating in the north and east of the post, attacking with automatic guns and mortars. Naik Chain Singh and his team fought back, inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy and repulsed the attack. The enemy troops launched a more determined assault on the post from all sides. Again Naik Chain Singh and his troops inflicted heavy casualties on them but soon they ran out of ammunition.
Having assessed the situation, the battle commander ordered the troops to withdraw. But it was not safe to withdraw as they were being targeted by the enemy troops continuously. During this grave situation Naik Chain Singh took over a light machine gun to give covering fire to the withdrawing troops. At this juncture a burst of the enemy machine gun injured him grievously. But he kept on manning and firing the gun to enable his men to withdraw safely. However, he could not continue long as another burst from the enemy guns hit him in the head, killing him instantaneously.
Naik Chain Singh was martyred but saved the lives of his comrades in a rare example of self sacrifice and conspicuous courage.
For his exceptional courage, tenacity and gallantry during the war, Naik Chain Singh was awarded the second highest gallantry award of the nation, Maha Vir Chakra posthumously.
Salute to Naik Chain Singh! (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)