Heroes of 1962 war in Arunachal: Havildar Saudagar Singh

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 the Taksing-Limeking, Mechukha/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 Havildar Saudagar Singh.

Havildar Saudagar Singh hailed from Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh. He belonged to the 2 Rajput Battalion, and his unit was deployed in Dhola area, north of Tawang, in Arunachal Pradesh during the Sino-India war of 1962. On 20 October, 1962, the Chinese forces launched a fierce attack on the positions held by his battalion.

During the fierce attack by the superior Chinese forces armed with automatic weapons, most of his comrades were either killed or wounded. Undaunted by the setbacks, Havildar Saudagar Singh personally took charge of the light machine gun (LMG) and started firing to prevent the Chinese from coming close towards their post. During the intense battle, he himself killed 10-15 Chinese soldiers who were approaching within 15 yards of the post. Having exhausted his ammunition, Saudagar Singh himself moved forward, snatched an automatic rifle from another Chinese soldier and killed 8 to 10 enemy soldiers from the same rifle (the rifle is still preserved in the battalion). This unnerved the Chinese and the attack failed.

Saudagar Singh was thereafter ordered to move to another platoon to assist them in fighting the Chinese. There also, he displayed personal bravery to motivate the soldiers to hold back the Chinese attacks. The gallant acts of Havildar Saudagar Singh in the face of all odds inspired all the soldiers despite the setbacks suffered by the battalion.

Saudagar Singh then escorted his injured company commander to safety and helped withdraw the remainder of the battalion.

Throughout the entire battle, Havildar Saudagar Singh 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 Saudagar Singh was awarded the third highest gallantry award of the nation, Vir Chakra. Salute to Havildar Saudagar Singh! (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)