25 February, 2021

In The Dragon’s Eye

If not for Delhi’s meddling, the army may have withstood 1962

Illustration by Sorit
In The Dragon’s Eye

The military drubbing India received from the Chinese 50 years ago still rankles many of us as many of our army units, despite being ill-clad and barely equipped for war, had fought back ferociously, sometimes with their bare hands and stones when ammunition ran out. Their defiance in the face of imminent defeat is the stuff of legend. At Namka Chu, near Thagla ridge, where it all began, 7 Infantry Brigade under Brigadier J.P. Dalvi (of Himlayan Blunder fame) was massacred despite the heroic stand of units like 2 Rajput, which were virtually wiped out by the Chinese. Among all this, clearly the honours for the “last stand to the last man” goes to Major Shaitan Singh (a posthumous PVC) and his 114 men of 13 Kumaon, at Rezang La, near Chusul in Ladakh. They repulsed seven Chinese attacks till they all died holding their weapons, and lay frozen there for weeks.

So it wasn’t for a lack of determination by our forces. The fall of Tawang, Walang, Se La and Bomdi La could perhaps have been prevented if only India’s military brass hats in...

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