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Remembering the battle of Rezang La of 1962

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Baba Leopard
Baba Leopard
World watcher, with a ring side view of society, state, and government!

The Battle of Rezang La was fought on a Sunday, November 18, 1962 which witnessed unusual cold and light snowfall with the breaking dawn. The day saw a battle which was unique, as never before in the world’s history had a major battle been fought at such an altitude with an unequally matched force array.

The battle commenced hours before the shelling, witnessed by the Brigade HQs from a distance. The first Chinese assault was ‘silent’ with an intention to surprise defenders, which failed. At 0400 Hrs, the Chinese were noticed scrambling up through gullies. Every man of the company with bated breath and fingers on the triggers, waited in a “Ready For Action” state.

At about 0500 Hrs came the first wave of Chinese assault. When they came within range, Major Shaitan Singh ordered his men to open fire. Soon the gullies were full of dead and wounded Chinese. The frontal attack having failed, Chinese modified their plan and shelled Rezang La heavily.

The odds against the company were heavy. Numerical superiority and fire power soon began to tell. Finding his company surrounded, Maj Shaitan Singh reorganised the positions and resited the automatic weapons to take on the Chinese. While personally supervising this, he received a burst of fire in one arm and another burst in his abdomen. Despite that, he, with indomitable courage and omnipresence, kept encouraging his men to continue fighting and while doing so attained martyrdom in a bunker. His body was found in the same position when Rezang La was visited in February 1963. There were no bunkers left at the hill and the martyrs were found frozen stiff in the trenches, holding their broken and blown off weapons.

The mortal remains of Major Shaitan Singh were flown to his hometown Jodhpur and cremated with full military honours befitting a national hero. It was at ‘High Ground’, the place where the battalion headquarters was located, that the mortal remains of ‘The Heroes of Battle of Rezang La’ were cremated with full military honours in February 1963.

Later, a memorial was erected at the same spot with the inscription “How can a man die better, Than facing fearful odds, For the ashes of his father, and the temple of his Gods?”

The “Veer Ahirs” fought till the proverbial “Last Man, Last Round” at the icy peaks of Rezang La and embraced death to surrender. Every man of the company, who fought Rezang La, was a hero and the grateful nation continues to remember each one of them.

Major Shaitan Singh was conferred with the nation’s highest gallantry award, Param Vir Chakra, posthumously.

The Battalion also received “Battle Honour Rezang La”, Theatre Honour ‘Ladakh 1962’ , one Ati Vishisht Seva Medal, eight Vir Chakra, four Sena Medal and one Mention-in-Despatch. This epic battle will always remind future generations of our brave men who died fighting for the honour of the Flag and Country’s honour.

(The author extends his acknowledgement to 13 Kumaon (Rezang La) for the details above)

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Baba Leopard
Baba Leopard
World watcher, with a ring side view of society, state, and government!
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