Heroes of 1962 War in Arunachal: Wing Commander Krishan Saini

Flights Of Fantasy

[ M Panging Pao ]

Many Arunachali old timers recall the 1962 Indo-Chinese 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 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 Wing Commander Krishan Kant Saini.

Hailing from Delhi, Flight Lieutenant Krishan Kant Saini was a helicopter pilot and was posted to 104 Helicopter Squadron and the squadron was operating in the NEFA area since 1960. During the 1962 Sino-India war, his squadron was engaged in evacuating battle casualties from eastern Arunachal Pradesh.

During the second phase of the war, on 18 November 1962, along with his co-pilot, Wing Commander Krishan Kant Saini was evacuating seriously injured battle casualties in the Walong area of present day Anjaw district of Arunachal. When he was over the helipad, the Chinese forces suddenly opened fire from many directions. His helicopter was hit at several places. An oil pipe of the helicopter was damaged and oil gushed out from it in a thick spray, which blinded him temporarily. His right ankle was also injured by a splinter caused by Chinese firing and he was bleeding profusely. With great determination, presence of mind and skill, he dived the helicopter almost to ground level to avoid further damage from enemy fire. With great skill and determination, Wing Commander Krishan Kant Saini saved the helicopter and the lives of his co-pilot and passengers. In spite of the damaged hydraulic system and the personal injury, he skillfully recovered the helicopter back to base.

During the 1962 Sino-India war, Wing Commander Krishan Kant Saini displayed the highest sense of duty, leadership, courage in the best traditions of the Indian Air Force. For his exceptional courage, tenacity and gallantry during the war, Wing Commander Krishan Kant Saini was awarded the third highest gallantry award of the nation, Vir Chakra.

After the war, Wing Commander Krishan Kant Saini set the world record in helicopter flying by accomplishing the world’s highest altitude helicopter landing. He attained this feat on 08 May 1969 when he landed a Cheetah helicopter at the altitude of 6858 metres (22,500 feet) in the Karakoram ranges. Wing Commander Saini was also awarded the Vayusena Medal for Gallantry and Ati Vishist Seva Medal for meritorious service. Salute to Wing Commander Krishan Kant Saini! (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)