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 Sepoy Jagpal Singh.
Young Sepoy Jagpal Singh hailed from Agra in Uttar Pradesh. He belonged to the 2 Rajput, which was deployed in the Dhola area, north of Tawang, in Arunachal Pradesh, during the Sino-India war of 1962.
The Sino-India war started on 20 October, 1962, with a massive multi-frontal, multi-directional attack by Chinese forces, including on the positions held by Sepoy Jagpal Singh’s battalion. Sepoy Jagpal Singh was manning a light machine gun at a company post in the Dhola area in Arunachal. Sepoy Jagpal Singh’s battalion fought back and beat back the initial Chinese waves of attacks. However, the Chinese forces attacked with additional forces and transgressed rapidly into Indian territory. Having transgressed rapidly, the Chinese forces attacked their positions from the rear. With complete disregard to his personal safety, Sepoy Jagpal Singh got out of his trench to fire more effectively on the assaulting enemy forces. Despite heavy fire from the Chinese forces, Sepoy Jagpal Singh continued his fire and inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy. However, in the intense battle, he was hit by a burst in his left thigh and his ammunition also ran out.
Although injured and bleeding profusely, he rushed back to his trench, fetched more ammunition magazines and resumed firing on the Chinese forces. He killed a number of Chinese soldiers before he was hit by another burst of enemy fire. Sepoy Jagpal Singh was martyred fighting for his nation.
Throughout the entire battle, Sepoy Jagpal 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, Sepoy Jagpal Singh was awarded the third highest gallantry award of the nation, the Vir Chakra, posthumously. Salute to Sepoy Jagpal Singh! (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)