Flights Of Fantasy
[ M Panging Pao ]
Many Arunachali 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 Major Sher Pratap Singh Shrikent.
Major Sher Pratap Singh Shrikent, son of Dr SS Shrikent, was born on 12 June, 1929 in Dinapur, Bihar. He was commissioned into the 1/9 Gorkha Rifles on 10 December, 1950. During the Sino-India war of 1962, his unit was deployed in the area north of Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh.
Major Sher Pratap Singh Shrikent was performing the duties of unit adjutant of his battalion. On 20 October, 1962, the Chinese launched a massive attack with superior numbers and automatic weapons. The inferior Indian forces fought back valiantly and drove back waves of enemy attacks. However, with numerical superiority and advanced weapons, the battalion position was overrun and soon the battalion headquarters was surrounded by enemy forces. Finding the situation desperate, Major Shrikent snatched a sten gun from an orderly (jawan), rallied the few surviving soldiers of the battalion headquarters, and gallantly charged the enemy with complete disregard for his personal safety, inflicting heavy losses on the advancing Chinese forces. His gallant action resulted in safe withdrawal of the remaining forces of the battalion.
Throughout the entire battle, Major Sher Pratap Singh Shrikent 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, Major Sher Pratap Singh Shrikent was awarded the second highest gallantry award of the nation, the Maha Vir Chakra. After the war, he rose to the rank of brigadier and retired. Salute to Brigadier Sher Pratap Singh Shrikent! (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)