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 lieutenant Yog Raj Palta.
Lt Yog Raj Palta was commissioned as a young officer into the 4th battalion of the Sikh Regiment. The battalion was deployed in the Tawang sector of Arunachal Pradesh during the 1962 Sino-India war. Lt Yog Raj Palta was given command of a rifle company in a forward area facing the numerically superior enemy forces. During the second phase of the war, on the night of 15 November, 1962, the Chinese forces attacked his company position in large numbers. Heavy fighting erupted with both sides launching fierce attacks and counter attacks. To inspire his men, lieutenant Palta went forward and moved from bunker to bunker despite enemy fire. Under his leadership, many of his soldiers engaged the enemy in close combat also. His presence boosted the morale of his men who fought gallantly and repulsed repeated enemy attacks during the night. Early next morning the Chinese re-attacked their position with more forces and firepower. During the intense fighting, lieutenant Palta was badly wounded. In spite of his wounds he kept cheering his men until he succumbed to his injuries. Lt Palta’s complete disregard for his personal safety and selfless devotion to duty inspired the men under his command to repulse repeated Chinese attacks.
Throughout the entire battle, lieutenant Yog Raj Palta 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, lieutenant Yog Raj Palta was awarded the third highest gallantry award of the nation, the Vir Chakra, posthumously. Salute to Lt Yog Raj Palta! (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)