The last Sikkim stand-off: How India killed over 400 Chinese soldiers in 1967
That India lost the 1962 war against China is known to all. Yes, it was a defeat but it was the defeat for the then political top brass headed by prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and not the military which fought like lions despite being outnumbered and outgunned.
Time and again, we have heard about the unfortunate 1962 India-China war which India lost but most of us have no clue about the Indo-Sino war in 1967.
Two years later, Nehru died, but the loss to China was not forgotten. A more aggressive Indian military was born and just three years later, in 1965, we defeated Pakistan.
China has used deception always to cheat India, they used the Hindi-Chini bhai bhai slogan to hit from the behind and took a lot of our land in 1962. In 1967, true to their deceptive nature, they tried again to forcefully occupy Nathu La and Cho La passes.
Yet China believed that since they had defeated us in 1962, we would not be a match to their military might ever.
So in 1965, the belligerent Chinese demanded India hand over Nathu La, which is today a scenic tourist spot along the Indo-Tibet border in Sikkim. To their shock, India showed them the middle finger.
Why Nathu La
Nathu La is a strategically important pass 14,200 feet above sea level. It was then all the more important because Sikkim was not part of India at the time. It was a protectorate state, meaning that the Indian Army was responsible to defend it from enemy aggression.
China wanted India to vacate Sikkim and take control. Imagine what would have happened if India had done that. The Chinese border would have been at West Bengal and, perhaps, the seven states of the northeast would not have been India’s part.
At the time Maj Gen (later Lt Gen) Sagat Singh was the GOC of the Mountain Division in Sikkim; Lt Gen Jagjit Singh Aurora was the Corps Commander and Lt Gen (later Field Marshal) Sam Manekshaw was the Eastern Army Commander. The same three men would later go on to script history in the 1971 war with Pakistan.
The Indian Army commanded two strategically higher positions Sebu La and Camel’s Back overlooking the entire Nathu La region giving them a tactical advantage over the Chinese. Since the ‘big brother’ myth propagated by Nehru had been shattered in 1962, the Indian Army installed two artillery positions on the two heights just in case the Chinese made a move. This decision would later prove to be a game changer.
Since the Chinese and the Indians patrolled very close to each other along the pass, scuffles were common. To prevent that, the Indian side decided to demarcate the border by laying a wire. The task was commenced early in the morning of September 11, 1967.
he Indian jawans were laying the barbed wire to lay the right international border. It led to a fight and the Chinese commander ordered for a firing towards the Indian army. The Indian army was caught off guard as the Jawans were busy laying the barbed wire, and due to the lack of cover, they suffered huge casualties at first. After some time, the Indian and Chinese army were fighting against each other, with machine guns, MMGs, mortars and artillery. The clash and the firing lasted for three days.
When the ceasefire happened after 3 days, a lot had happened. The casualties at Chinese side as estimated by Indian authorities was 400-500 and the Indian casualties were 88. The company commander Capt. PS Dagar laid his life and was honoured with Vir Chakra posthumously.
On October 1, 1967 a face-off between India and China took place at Cho La, another pass on the Sikkim-Tibet border a few kilometers north of Nathu La”.
“Despite initial casualties, 7/11 GR and 10 JAK RIF stood firm and forced the Chinese to withdraw nearly three kilometers away to a feature named Kam Barracks where they remain deployed till date. Cho La Pass is firmly in Indian hands. Indian Army had got better of the Chinese yet again.”
Chinese were taught a lesson that the Indian army was developing at a fast pace and they had gone past the days of 1962. China is again to it’s old way and trying to create a situation of a possible war in the coming future. We hope China has not forgotten 1967 in order to justify another war that they might like to fight against India.
India lost some brave soldiers but were able to drive back the Chinese three kilometers behind the Cho La pass. Two soldiers, Rifleman Devi Prasad Limbu and Havildar Tinjong Lama, were honoured with the Vir Chakra.
The total number of Indian casualties in both Nathu La and Cho La incidents stand at 88 while 163 were wounded. China lost around 400 soldiers and was left with 450 wounded.
A memorial was instilled at the place where the brave soldiers of 2 Grenadiers fought bravely to protect our motherland. We salute the soldiers who sacrificed their everything so we can live safely today.
This is just not the only fight that Indian army fought against China, the story of brave soldiers of Rezang La will move you to the core. We are indebted to our soldiers and that shall remain forever. A small video dedicated to the exemplary courage 13 Kumaon depicted.
Source:- toyaps and defencelover