28 February, 2021

India's Foreign Legion

This band of fighting men is comprised of expat Tibetans

India's Foreign Legion
Look anywhere in Turtuk and you can't miss their red berets. Or their cheerful countenance in face of adversity. Like at a camp just short of the shelling area near Turtuk village, their tents perched on the rocky rubble that passes for a riverbank in Ladakh. These are the gutsy men of the very low-profile Vikas Regiment-known locally as the Lama Fauj-drawn predominantly from Tibetan refugees in India.

From guarding strategic features such as bridges and roads to being deployed in the high altitudes of the Ladakh range, this is the man to whom the Indian army turns to do the job. "They have mountain warfare in their blood," says an officer who has seen them at work in Turtuk.

Raised in the aftermath of the '62 China War, it has been made clear to the last jawan-obviously with an eye on the diplomatic brouhaha it may create-that publicity is the last thing they need. That hasn't, of course, stopped everybody in Ladakh from pointing them out in the Leh bazaar to anybody interested in finding out about them.
In fact, the Vikas Regiment in Turtuk and the Ladakh...

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