Every battle Indian army fought gifted the nation a new legend. While the Indian historians believed in glorifying the Islamic invaders and Mughal rulers as heroes I choose to write about heroes who’s stories are fading away in the world of globalization and leftism. Indian army have fought battles which even today tells us stories of bravery and nationalism, however, today I would like to pen down about the deadliest battle ever in the history of human race. It’s the story of how 121 warriors from Indian armed forces saved Rezang La a strategic point in the Indo-China border.
Till September 1962, the defense of all of Ladakh was vested with 114 Brigade commanded by Brig. TN Raina (later General and COAS). It consisted of just two infantry battalions, the 1/8 Gorkha Rifles and 5 Jat. Initially, only the Gorkhas were deployed in the Chushul sector and when the gravity of the Chinese threat began to be realized 13 Kumaon, which was at Baramula in the Kashmir Valley, was sent in to reinforce 114 Brigade. In the first week of October the 3 Himalayan (later Mountain) Division was formed for the overall defence of Ladakh and the Chushul sector was entirely left to 114 Brigade. On 26 October, 114 Brigade set up its headquarters at Chushul.
The newly arrived 13 Kumaon headed by Major Shaitan Singh took upon themselves to guard Chushul 19 miles from Rezang la. It was a freezing Sunday of 18th November 1962, 3.30 am and the temperature had dipped to -40 degree at this temperature and altitude a small cut on our hand only means the entire hand be amputated. It is humanly impossible to survive at this temperature for a long time but Indian army has been guarding these crucial locations for about 80 years now. With In few hours the sun would raise behind the frozen mountains and it should have been yet another day for these brave men at work but Chinese army had planned to attack Rezang La and take over this strategic point located at 16,000 ft above sea level and this only means India would have no access to Ladakh in North east frontier. Chinese army with well-equipped ammunitions such as 7.62 mm self-loading rifles; MMG’s and LMG’s; 120 mm, 81 mm and 60 mm mortars; 132 mm rockets; and 75 mm and 57 mm recoilless guns to bust bunkers, tanks, and cannons loaded on jeeps advanced towards Rezang La where 121 Indian soldiers were stationed. When Major Shaitan Singh learned about this he immediately informed army headquarters to send the backup force and informed his seniors over radio that he and his men would engage the chines army until the back up with more ammunitions was sent however his request to send additional force was rejected since Indian army didn’t have enough air lifters and equipment to be supplied to Rezang La and in turn army headquarters advised Major Shaitan Singh to vacate the place to avoid casualty. Major Shaitan Singh responded back saying he would not leave Rezang la and fight until his last breath, when Major Shaitan Singh narrated the same to his men they said “Rezang la has served us food for years and now it is time for us to protect it, Sheer sahab we too would stand firm with you and fight to protect Rezang la”
As they spotted Chinese army in thousands advancing towards them Major Shaitan Singh and his men decided not to exhaust their ammunitions firing at the enemy at the long rang and waited for the enemy to reach close range where every bullet fired could cause chines casualty. As chines army approached Rezang la Indian army retaliated with full force, the retaliation was so furious that the chines army at once point were stunned and immediately called their army headquarters to inform “the intelligence was completely wrong, we are few meters away from Rezang la and Indian army has retaliated and it looks like there are about 3000 Indian army men camping here and we don’t think we can capture” You can now imagine the intense of resistance put up by Indian army. These 121 brave Indian soldiers managed to kill 1500 Chinese army men with native weapons in a battle that lasted for 5 long hours. As the casualty of chines soldiers increased they received more ammunitions and fighting force. When the regiment ran out of ammunitions Jemadar Ram Singh and Gulab Singh who hailed from Haryana even restored to kill Chine soldiers with knifes, these men were wrestlers before they joined Indian army, survivors say both Ram and Gulab grabbed Chines men by their throat and killed them instantly. As the war came to an end Indian army had lost 114 of its brave warrior fighting to protect Rezang la. 7 had survived however their condition was critical. Mother India had lost one of her greatest warriors. Major Shaitan Singh who led this operation was lying dead. His body pierced with bullets, He had grabbed automated machine guns of Chines dead army men and brutally assaulted the enemies until he breathed his last breath. It gave me a chill down the spine when I learnt that Major Shaitan Singh was still holding on to the trigger of his gun even after he was dead. The bravery of Major Shaitan Singh should be told to every Indian. He was awarded Param Vir Chakra, the highest wartime gallantry medal, posthumously, for his leadership and devotion to duty. All those Indian army men captured in this battle miraculously escaped from the Chines prison. The future generation of this nation should adore the sacrifice made by such great warriors. 121 men gave their everything to protect mother India even when they had a chance to back out. This battle is even today considered as one of the most ferocious and the story of battle of Rezang la is told men serving in the army in western countries. I hope all those who read this will tell the story of “Battle of Rezang la” to every Indian.
These is a small memorial at Rezang la in memory of those beautiful souls who fought for mother India and it reads
“How can a Man die Better than facing Fearful Odds,
For the Ashes of His Fathers and the Temples of His Gods,
To the sacred memory of the Heroes of Rezang La,
114 Martyrs of 13 Kumaon who fought to the Last Man,
Last Round, Against Hordes of Chinese on 18 November 1962.
Built by All Ranks 13th Battalion, The Kumaon Regiment”
The valleys of Rezang la even today tells the stories of warriors who stood their ground to save mother India. The screams of those 121 souls even today tells the passion they had for their country. Lest We Forget