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 Captain Ravi Kumar Mathur.
Captain Ravi Kumar Mathur hailed from Dehradun in Uttarakhand, and was commissioned into the 6 Kumaon. At just 25 years of age, Captain Mathur and his battalion were deployed in Walong sector in the present day Anjaw district of Arunachal during the Sino-India war of 1962.
During the second phase of the war, on 6 November, 1962, in one of the few offensive actions during
the Sino-India war, a patrol of Alpha Company of the 6 Kumaon, under the command of Captain Ravi Kumar Mathur, was charged with the dangerous task of dislodging the enemy forces from the Green Pimple area near Walong. The Kumaonis crossed the fierce river on old-fashioned and rickety pulleys called ‘the flying fox’. The Indian heavy guns that were pounding the enemy positions went quiet as the Kumaonis approached Green Pimple. Once spotted, the enemy forces opened fire from higher vantage positions. Despite heavy enemy fire, Captain Mathur and his forces advanced and charged the enemy position. They were facing enemy fire, injury and superior numbers but they kept charging and cleared the forward enemy bunkers. Running out of ammunition, Captain Mathur and his men fitted bayonets and engaged the enemy forces in hand to hand close combat and evicted the enemy from the post.
Despite the absence of the promised mortar support, they withstood five counter attacks by the enemy and held the post. Enemy casualties in this action only were fifteen-twenty killed and many wounded. Thereafter, they were redeployed along the west ridge area where they held defensive positions.
Later, Captain Ravi Kumar Mathur brought the battalion safely back to Tezu, marching about 200 kilometres through tough terrain.
Throughout the entire battle, Captain Ravi Kumar Mathur 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, Captain Ravi Kumar Mathur was awarded the third highest gallantry award of the nation, Vir Chakra. After the war, he rose to the rank of brigadier and retired. Salute to Brigadier Ravi Kumar Mathur! (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)