Heroes of 1962 war in Arunachal: Hon Lt Gopal Singh Gusain

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 epic Battle of Nuranang.

Rifleman Gopal Singh Gusain hailed from Pauri Garhwal in Uttarkhand and belonged to the 3 Garhwal Rifles. His battalion was deployed at Nuranang in Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh during the 1962 Sino-India war.

During the second phase of the war, on 17 November, 1962, the Chinese forces attacked Rifleman Gopal Singh Gusain’s company position near the Nuranang bridge in Arunachal Pradesh. Naik Trilok Singh Negi was the section commander wherein Rifleman Gopal Singh Gusain was a member. The enemy forces succeeded in positioning a medium machine gun (MMG) very close to their location. The Chinese forces started heavy firing from the MMG. Realising that the position would soon become untenable if the enemy MMG were not destroyed, Lance Naik Negi, Rifleman Gusain and another rifleman volunteered to go and destroy the MMG. They crawled forward at the risk of being hit by our own as well as enemy fire and reached within 10 metres of the enemy MMG.

With Lance Naik Negi giving covering fire with his Sten gun, Rifleman Gussain and the other rifleman rushed and hurled grenades on the enemy MMG position. As the grenades exploded, the two riflemen rushed to destroy the MMG. They found two Chinese soldiers lying dead and another badly wounded but holding the MMG. They overpowered the Chinese soldier, snatched the MMG and started running back to their own position. While giving covering fire to the returning riflemen, Lance Naik Negi was badly wounded by a burst of enemy automatic fire. He continued covering his comrades until he succumbed to his injuries, while the other rifleman got killed. Rifleman Gopal Singh Gusain, though wounded, managed to return to the trench with the enemy MMG, thus easing the precarious situation. The wounded Rifleman Gopal Singh Gusain was later evacuated.

In this action, both Naik Negi and Rifleman Gusain displayed commendable courage and a high sense of duty in the best traditions of the army. For his exceptional courage, tenacity and gallantry during the war, Rifleman Gopal Singh Gusain was awarded the third highest gallantry award of the nation, Vir Chakra. Salute to Rifleman Gopal Singh Gusain! Such is the epic saga of the Battle of Nuranang, also known now as Jaswant Garh. (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)