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 2nd Lieutenant Vinod Kumar Goswamy.
Hailing from Prayagraj in Uttar Pradesh, young 21 years old 2nd Lieutenant Vinod Kumar Goswamy was commissioned into the 4 Garhwal Rifles. In October 1962, 2nd Lt Goswamy’s unit was deployed near Sela Pass after being withdrawn from Tawang and got redeployed south of the Mago Chu river in present Arunachal Pradesh.
On 13 November, 1962, 2nd Lieutenant Goswamy was leading a patrol in the Mago region to observe Chinese movements. In the evening, they observed about 20 Chinese soldiers approaching a hut near the north bank of Mago Chu and settled there for the night. 2nd Lieutenant Goswamy decided to take on the Chinese in a daring move. After dark, 2nd Lieutenant Goswamy, along with his seven men, crossed the stream using logs between rocks as a makeshift bridge. In the hut, the Chinese soldiers were quite relaxed as they had not noticed the Indian troops.
A lone sentry was on duty some yards away from the hut. 2nd Lieutenant Goswamy and two of his men grabbed the sentry and hit his head with a rifle butt. The scuffle, however, brought another Chinese soldier out of the hut and, though he fired, 2nd Lieutenant Goswamy bayoneted him. The covering party of the patrol then started firing and throwing hand grenades, as a result of which there was confusion in the hut and in the village. 2nd Lieutenant Goswamy killed the Chinese sentry, withdrew from the hut and returned to headquarters in the morning of the 15 November, 1962.
Later, 2nd Lieutenant Goswamy’s unit was re-deployed at Nuranang. Alpha Company came under attack from the Chinese soldiers on 16 November, 1962. The forward platoon under Sub Udai Singh Rawat was the most affected as the main thrust of the Chinese was directed at the platoon. The Chinese were attacking with mortars, artillery guns and Alpha Company was running out of ammunition. 2nd Lieutenant Goswamy volunteered to carry the required ammunition to Alpha Company. Alpha Company, having received the critical ammunition, repulsed multiple Chinese attacks thereafter. However, during the withdrawal of the company on 17 November, 1962, 2nd Lt Goswamy got seriously injured and was martyred.
Throughout the entire battle, 2nd Lieutenant Goswamy 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, 2nd Lieutenant Goswamy was awarded the third highest gallantry award of the nation, the Vir Chakra. Salute to 2nd Lieutenant Goswamy! (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)