Monday, February 2, 2015

Indo-Sino War of 1962. Lessons to Learn

Indo-Sino War of 1962, Lessons to Learn.
China called it a border war or self defense counter attack. China claimed that it was started by Indians who fired at Chinese soldiers, marched into Chinese territory and began to build military watch houses. And before that India offered shelter to Dalai Lama who was considered as a traitor. China view India's action as intervention to China's domestic affairs.

"If the Chinese will not vacate the areas occupied by her, India will have to repeat what she did in Goa. She will certainly drive out Chinese forces". Lal Bahadur Shashtri, Home Minister of India, 4/2/1962.

Nehru also gave a statement on 12/10/62, that he had "ordered the Indian Army to through the Chinese out".

India and China both are great Nations with a long history and after European Colonisation in 19th Century, both were rebuilding in the mid of 20th century after became independent in 1947 and 1949 respectively. The soldiers of both the countries had fought Burma War together as friends.  Pandit Nehru was building position of India in the International world through 'Non alignment Policy' of keeping away from the fight between two super powers USA and USSR. Panchsheel was signed in 1955 and Rhetoric of Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai was getting popular.

China and India had two border issues:
1) Aksai Chin in Kashmir (Western Front), Johnson Line
2) Arunachal Pradesh in North East India (Eastern Front), McMahon line.

But meanwhile China attacked over Tibet and captured it by killing many Tibetians. Dalai Lama flee to India in 1959. India gave him asylum and condemned China's attack over Tibet. Dalai Lama was received by Assam Rifle at the border near Thangala border in Kameng Sector. Tension started developing at Indo-Sino border. Sensitive Chinese started preparation for war and was waiting for an opportunity time to strike. US-USSR were involved in Cuban missile fiasco.

Chinese Premier Chau En Lai denied McMahon line as final border when asked by Pandit Nehru during his Delhi visit in May 1962. As per the condition of the agreement, both the countries were to position their troops 20 kms behind the McMahon line. But under the environment of mistrust, each one was telling to do, pehle aap (you first).

McMahon line drawn using bigger scale with a sketch pen was a matter of dispute as the sketch line itself was measuring 25-40 kms. Both the countries obviously were claiming outer-side as boundary.

In September 2014, The Chinese PLA surrounded a small Indian army post in Tsonjang (established as a consequence of the asinine "forward policy" of Indian government ?) to the north of the Namka Chu stream just below the disputed Thangla Ridge at the India-Bhutan-Tibet tri junction.

Galaxies of MPs (AB Vajpayee, Lohia, Kripalani, Masani, etc) would frequently thunder that every inch of sacred Indian territory must be freed from the Chinese and  charge the government with a grave dereliction of duty.

Pandit Nehru, finally ablioyed by initiating forward policy.  'I don't care if Chinese come as far as Delhi, they have to be driven out of Thangla'. - Nehru.
General PN Thapar, who was promoted by superseeding his 3 seniors, took government order more literally and seriously. The cousin of Pandit Nehru LtG BM Kaul who had never commanded an active fighting outfit was posted as Core Commander of IV Corps in Tejpur. The field commanders argued that it was militarily impossible to take on Chinese forces at Thangla ridge near McMahon line. Some resigned but their resignations were not accepted. Defence Minister V Krishna Menon didn't considered China as a threat. Defence Secretary KK Menon, (whose daughter married to a Chinese) couldn't read the situation. Pandit Nehru was worrying with the border issues, was ill informed by IB Chief, moved for a forward policy to throw away Chinese from Indian territory without full assessment of the strength of both sides.

Prior to the war, LtG BM Kaul visited Zimithang post area and caught cold disease, went to Delhi for treatment, without handing over the core commander charge to his second in command.

On 19/10/1962, a team of 20 lead by Captain Prasad (s/o General Prasad) went on patrolling from Zimithang towards Thangala to review Chinese activities. They never returned. Chinese took the event as army aggression by India and launched military attack over India on 20/10/1962. On that day Pandit Nehru was in Sri Lanka and Core Commander LtG BM Kaul sitting in Delhi, ordering an action against a position 1000 yards northeast of Dhola post.

On first day (20/10) of the war, Chinese first warned to Indian forces who were trying to move and capture Indian posts occupied by Chinese, but when not stopped, killed them. The dead bodies were cremated by Chinese as the Indo-Burma war friendship didn't die fully. There after, the Chinese didn't look back, captured the sector from Zimithang to Tawang in 36 hrs reaching Tawang on 21/10/1962.

The ground situation was different. Indian army was logistically weak and ill prepared to take on the superior Chinese forces that were well trained in mountain warfare. There was no road network. Indian army was neither manned nor equipped with arms and ammunition sufficiently. The troops sent after the tension developed at the border, went wearing plain cloths and canvas shoes. There was one 303 rifle per 2-3 Javans and few light machine guns. Chinese troops were many with better arms and ammunition against our few. They had machine guns and few AK 47 rifles against our 303.

After capturing Tawang, Chinese troops moved the attacked on Bumla on 23/10/62. There were only 67 soldiers on posts between Bumla to Tawang. 17 soldiers of Assam Brigade at Bumla were killed on the very first attack.

Little down to Bumla, at Tongpen La, Param Vir Chakra Sikh Subedar Joginder Singh, with his team of 20, fought a battle of bravery against an attack of 200 Chinese troops, killed many of them by disobeying command of withdrawal (Sir, vatan ki jamin ka tukda dushman ko nahin lene denege), and at last gave their lives. His elder daughter died in shock, receiving the news of his demise. A memorial has been erected at the site to pay homage to the brave sons of India.
Indian troops weak in arms and in numbers were withdrawing. Meantime, 3000 Chinese workers made 50 kms long road from Bumla to Tawang by cutting mountains in 10 days working 24×7 (an evidence of their preparedness of war). They captured Kameng Sector and were moving down fast.

12 kms down to Jang, a unit (700) of 4 Garwal Rifle was in charge. On November 16, 1962. Chinese attacked over the post. The unit was able to protect the post from Chinese attack 5 times on that day. 300 Chinese soldiers were killed against Indian 8. As Indian forces were withdrawing against the machine gun attack of Chinese, but Rfn Jashwant Singh Rawat (Mahavir Chakra), Lnk Trilok Singh Negi (Vir Chakra), and Rfn Gopal Singh Gosain (Vir Chakra) went to the location of Chinese machine gun and were able to snatched it away from Chinese hands. Negi and Gusain were killed but Jashwant Singh Rawat was able to returned and fight the 'battle of Nuranang' with the Chinese machine gun.

There were two local porter girls, Sela and Nura. Sela was in love with Jashwant Singh. As the war was on, she came with her friend Nura in search of Jashwant Singh. The battle was on. Both girls joined hands with Jashwant Singh supplying ammunition and eying and informing him Chinese positions. Jashwant Singh single handedly fought Battle of Nuranang for 72 hours with Chinese machine gun killing many Chinese soldiers with the help of these 2 local girls. At last he and both the girls were killed by Chinese troops after a big casualties. He was killed (after a bullet fire from behind) by hanging on a tree. The place is named Jashwant Garh. A monument of his bravery has been erected. Tourists stop here to pay homage. A pass near by has been named 'Sela Pass' and a small river flowing has been named 'Nuranang River', paying tributes to the two brave girls of India, Sela and Nura.
Chinese troops went upto Tejpur- Balipara-Misamaari (400 kms from the border). Local people didn't accept Chinese.

Pandit Nehru sent two letters (15/11, 20/11) to the then US President John F Kennedy requesting the support of US Air Force in fighting the Chinese. He demanded 12 sqcoulons of supersonic all weather fighters, 2 B-47 bombers and the setting up of Radar communications. Indian Air Force was not used for any offensive action and was only confined to air dropping supplied to the troops.

Finally after the war of 31 days, when China declared unilateral ceasefire on 21/11/62, under the pressure of UN, Chinese troops were withdrawn. Chinese went back to the McMohan line on Bumla side but held 40×10 kms (400 skm) area from Thangala to point 5204 (40 kms) between McMohan line and river Namchuka, on actual Line on Control, (includes two of Indian posts and two bridges over the river Namchuka). They also held Aksai Chin in Kashmir.
26 Army Units (26×700) fought the war but major battles were fought at 4 locations; Zimithang, Bumla, Tongpen La and Nuranang in Kameng Sector. 2420 brave man of India lost their lives. Rajput unit lost the maximum, 281. The blood was Hindustani, shed for the security of our country. A War Memorial has been erected in Tawang using architecture design of Buddhism and local custom to pay homage to the 2420 brave sons of India. Jai Hind. Jai Hind ki Sena.
Indian soldiers in the adverse of conditions, didn't abandoned their rifles even if meant certain deaths. The moving song "Aye mere vatan ke logon, jara ankh me bhar lo paani..." , penned by poet Pradeep, when sung by Lata Mangeshkar on 26/1/1963 in New Delhi, it brought tears to the eyes of Indians. As the song ended, Nehru could not hold his tears and broke down completely. He didn't recover from the shock of defeat and betrayal of China till he died on 27 May 1964.
Kaifi Azmi wrote (1964) on soldiers sacrifice, "kar chale hum fida jaan aur tan shathiyon, ab tumhare hawale watan shathiyon.."

History once again taught us a lesson of losing whenever governed by heart. The brains of enemies-invaders always win against the hearts of India.
Chinese have built many modern buildings in the LoC area. The roads upto their borders are pacca tar roads. Now India also has started erecting buildings to the Indian side of the river Namchuka. The pucca road works approaching last points of the border are also in progress with speed. The strength of Army in the entire sector has been strengthen.

Chinese have built a big dam on River Brahmputra at a strategic location near the border near Thangala, with a very huge capacity of water storage. In a war like situation, if they simply open the gates of the dam, entire Assam will be flooded and destroyed.
The experience of 1962 was bitter but looking to the strength of China as emerging Hedgeman, Indian diplomacy has to perform to its best. Russians visit to Pakistan, signing agreement with China and selling weapons and technology to both of them is definitely a worrisome matter for India. President Obama and President Putin, both are important for India but Russia, a timely tested friend can't be lost by diplomatic mistakes.

Dalai Lama and Tibet issues are dormant, there is peace at the border, quarterly coordination meetings and celebration of events at borders are on; but as a Nation, we have to continue building our capacity and strength for protection of our country against the attacks of enemies at borders.

8 December 2014


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