Heroes of 1962 war in Arunachal: Hav Kaula Singh Thapa

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 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 Havildar Kaula Singh Thapa.

Havildar Kaula Singh Thapa belonged to the 1/9 Gurkha Rifles. During the Sino-India war of 1962, the 1/9 Gurkha Rifles was deployed at the Tsangdhar area (north of Tawang) in Arunachal Pradesh. As company havildar major, Havildar Kaula Singh Thapa was the key person in the company to defend the key position against enemy attack.

Early morning on 20 October, 1962, about 200 Chinese troops attacked the company positions, backed by mortar fire. Havildar Kaula Singh Thapa had positioned himself in the left section light machine gun (LMG) pit, so as to prevent enemy penetration from the left flank. There was intense fighting between Indian and Chinese soldiers. During the fierce battle, the rifleman operating the LMG was killed. Havildar Thapa immediately took charge of the gun and continued firing it and inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy.

Under intense fire, the Chinese forces had to withdraw from the attack. However, the enemy soldiers re-attacked with additional reinforcements. The tempo of the attacks increased and Havildar Thapa had only three magazines of ammunition left with him. The position was untenable and the battalion was ordered to withdraw by the battle commanders. However, Havildar Thapa asked his company to withdraw and himself undertook to provide covering fire. Completely disregarding his own safety, he stuck to his gun till the Chinese overran the position and killed Havildar Thapa.

Throughout the operation, Havildar Thapa displayed the highest sense of duty, leadership and courage in the best traditions of the army. For his exceptional courage, tenacity and gallantry during the war, Havildar Kaula Singh Thapa was awarded the third highest gallantry award of the nation, Vir Chakra, posthumously. Salute to Havildar Kaula Singh Thapa! (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)