Tag Archives: Gallantary awards

The soldier Who Saved Arunachal Pradesh From Chinese

The story of Jaswant Singh Rawat is awe-inspiring for its selfless heroism and bravery. In the last phase of the 1962 Sino-Indian war, Jaswant Singh Rawat fought off a section of Chinese troops over 3 days single-handedly an entire troop of hundreds of Chinese army men on a mountain, is a legend revered by jawans who are now posted near Jaswantgarh, the place where he was martyred.

It was the tail end of the Indo-Chinese war in 1962. The Sino-Indian border, an unfenced 1000-kilometre stretch at altitudes of 14,000 feet, characterised by freezing climes and inhabitable rocky terrain, was the unfortunate battleground. The Chinese troops were advancing over the Himalayan border, claiming Indian land, while the Indian troops bravely fought them off. Weeks before the ceasefire was called for between the two countries, Jaswant Singh Rawat’s battalion, The Garhwal Rifles, was engaged in an intense battle with the Chinese army at Nauranang. Soon though, the battalion was called back, citing lack of resources and manpower.

But Rawat, a true-blue soldier, decided to stay back and fight. According to local legends, he enlisted the help of Nura and Sela, two local Monpa girls from Arunachal Pradesh, to set up a firing ground, in what would be called the battle of Nauranang. He picked three areas to set up his weapons. For the next three days, he incessantly fired at the Chinese army from these spots. Almost 300 soldiers were shot dead.

The Chinese army, fearing that they were up against a large troop, stopped in their tracks. The illusion that Rawat had wanted to create worked. The Chinese troops had no clear idea about the number of men they were up against, and had no way of finding out. It took time, but the enemy troops finally learnt the truth. On November 17, 1962, Rawat was surrounded from all sides by the Chinese troops. When the attack began, he knew he would be captured. He then shot himself dead to avoid ending up their prisoner. Meanwhile, a grenade blast killed Sela, but the troops managed to capture Nura alive.

The legend goes on to say that the Chinese troops cut off his head to take home as a souvenir. After the war, the Chinese army returned his head, and, impressed by his valour as a lone warrior, also gifted a bust of Rawat made of brass. Some stories say that Rawat didn’t kill himself but was caught by the Chinese troops and hung. Soon, the ceasefire was ordered, and the war was over. The area where Rawat last stood his ground was named Jaswantgarh. A hut was built over that area, where a dedicated staff prepares his bed, shines his shoes, irons his clothes, all as if he were still alive. He was bestowed with the Mahavir Chakra posthumously, and is still considered a serving officer. He is the only soldier in the history of the Indian Army who has risen through the ranks after his death. He was ‘promoted’ to the rank of Major General 40 years after his death, and is still believed to ‘command’ troops guarding India’s eastern frontiers with China. It is said that the jawans posted in Arunachala Pradesh or those who pass by Jaswantgarh, even today, stop to pay their respects.

The Maha Vir Chakra Awardee from Nagaland

Subedar Imliakum Ao was born on July 25, 1976 in the village of Chuchuyimpang in Mokokchung, Nagaland. His father is a retired state government employee and his mother is a homemaker. He has five siblings – four brothers and a sister. Two of his brothers are in the Nagaland police, one is in the civil services, and another is in the army. After completing his matriculation, he joined the 2nd Battalion of the Naga Regiment on May 4, 1994.

Between the months of May and July 1999, the Indian government launched Operation Vijay in the Kargil sector of Jammu & Kashmir. The Indian Army, supported by the Air Force, had to recapture the areas on the Indian side of the Line of Control (LOC), which had been infiltrated by Pakistani troops and militants. The 2nd Battalion of the Naga Regiment was one of the first units to be inducted into this area during the conflict. It moved from the Patan sector to Drass and thereafter to the Mushkoh valley.

Though the Washington Accord was signed on July 4, 1999 and the Pakistani President Nawaz Sharif agreed to withdraw his troops, the infiltrators continued holding on to positions on the Indian side of the LOC. Twin Bump in the Point 4875 complex was one such position. This was the enemy mortar position and 2 Naga was tasked to capture it.

“The schedule in the unit was very busy due to the ongoing war situation and to top it the weather conditions were just not forgiving. We moved into Mushkoh valley, which is located 15,000 ft above sea level, and were faced with heavy mortar bombardment on one side and inclement weather on the other,” continues the decorated soldier. In order to neutralize the bombardment from the enemy mortar post on the night of July 8, his company was tasked to assault and capture Twin Bump. The Subedar was just a Sepoy in 1999. He was part of the assault group that was tasked with stealthily neutralizing the enemy on the outer perimeter of the enemy mortar post.

According to a Naga Regiment publication that described the operation: “Sepoy Imliakum Ao approached the enemy sentry during broad daylight and killed him. Thereafter, he kept moving forward and killed one more sentry and subsequently stormed the mortar position along with the Assault Group….. The elimination of the enemy personnel by Sepoy Imliakum Ao was a big success wherein three 120 mm and two 81 mm mortars were captured along with a huge stockpile of ammunition. The valiant action by Sepoy Imliakum Ao, which was a true demonstration of valour, in the presence of a well entrenched enemy was the sole factor which paved the way for a successful raid on the enemy mortar position which led to the destruction of the enemy ammunition dump.”

“It was a very difficult mission and all those who participated in it were aware of the threat. Though Nagas are born warriors, a scout’s job is the key to a mission’s success,” said an officer of 2 Naga. The assault group’s task involved killing the Pakistani soldiers guarding the mortar positions and ammunition depots. “The enemy positions were heavily guarded and the mission was to be carried out in daylight. But Imliakum Ao volunteered for it,” he added.As a young sepoy he had shown exemplary courage and determination. His grit and raw courage in the face of the enemy were instrumental in him being awarded the Maha Vir Chakra, the second highest gallantry award of India, in Jan 2000. Promoted to the rank of Subedar on August 1, 2016, this highly decorated Junior Commissioned Officer continues to serve the nation with pride and dignity.

Meghalaya’s Kargil martyr Lt. Keishing Clifford Nongrum

On July 26, 1999, the Indian Armed Forces won a gritty and decisive war against Pakistan. In the ferocious battle, many brave young soldiers laid down their lives defending their nation on the inhospitable battlefield of Kargil. It’s been more than twentye years since then, but the unparalleled bravery and sacrifice of Kargil brave hearts are still etched in the collective memory of the country. However, few people know about Lieutenant Keishing Clifford Nongrum and his act of extraordinary courage that was responsible for giving the Indian army a crucial edge in the Kargil war.

Lieutenant Keishing Clifford Nongrum (Shillong, Meghalaya) was just 24 when the Kargil war begun. In the war, his battalion (12 JAK Light Infantry) was posted at the Batalik Sector. On the night of June 30, 1999, Lt Nongrum’s unit was given the responsibility of securing Point 4812, a peak whose strategic location made it a top priority for the army. In this operation, Lieutenant Keishing Clifford Nongrum was assigned the task of executing the assault on the cliff feature of Point 4812. Climbing the vertical peak from the south eastern direction was nearly impossible, but Lt Nongrum and his determined platoon took up the challenge. They steadily and stealthily clambered up the steep slopes to reach the enemy bunkers at the top.

On the peak, Pakistani infiltrators had entrenched themselves in interconnected bunkers carved out of boulders. This had made them immune to even artillery fire. As a result, on completing their ascent, Lt Nongrum and his battalion had to face strong enemy opposition in the form of heavy mortar and automatic machine gun fire.

Pinned down for about two hours by the heavy and consistent firing, Lt Nongrum decided to do something that would turn the tide for his platoon. With utter disregard for his personal safety, he charged through the fire zone, firing and lobbing grenades at the enemy bunkers. His grenades killed six enemy soldiers holed up in the bunkers, but while throwing them, Lt Nongrum was hit by several bullets.

Severely injured, Lt Nongrum continued to fight hand-to-hand (he was a boxer too) with the Pakistani soldiers in an attempt to snatch the machine gun in the remaining bunker. In a supreme sacrifice, he chose to fight till his last breath and refused to be rescued. He kept fighting valiantly till he finally succumbed to his injuries on the battlefield.

This extraordinarily brave move of Lt Nongrum stunned the enemy, giving valuable time to his troops who closed in to finally clear the position. Thanks to Lt Nongrum and his team, the Indian Army had finally captured Point 4812. For his selflessness, dogged determination and raw courage in the face of the enemy, Lt Keishing Clifford Nongrum was posthumously awarded the Nation’s second highest wartime gallantry award, Maha Vir Chakra, on August 15, 1999. In 2011, Lt Nongrum’s father, Peter Keishing, made a personal pilgrimage to the spot where his son had single-handedly killed six enemy soldiers before breathing his last. He came back deeply moved and proud of his son who had made the supreme sacrifice in the service of his nation.

Air Marshal Randhir Singh: One Of IAF’s Oldest War Heroes

He was one of the oldest surviving officers of the Indian Air Force with his service dating back to the epoch of pre-independence; one who had contributed to the Second World War, the First Kashmir War of 1948, the Sino-Indian War of 1962 and the Indo-Pak Wars of 1965 and 1971. In newly independent India, Air Marshal Randhir Singh (retd) was awarded the third highest gallantry award – the Vir Chakra.

Months after the freedom fighters launched the Quit India Movement, a young Randhir Singh was commissioned into the erstwhile Royal Indian Air Force, as part of the 15th Course. The day was December 21, 1942. He was first deployed as a Pilot Officer in No 3 Squadron to Kohat (now in Pakistan) in 1943, the North West Frontier Province. Here, he met the erstwhile Flight Lieutenant, late Air Marshal Arjan Singh.

At the time of partition, Randhir was a young flight lieutenant at the Risalpura air base, Naushera, near Peshawar (present Pakistan). Like most of his counterparts, he too was asked to choose between the Pakistani or Indian Air Force. In an interview with The Times of India, he had said, “I, along with 21 other Air Force officers deployed in our airbase opted to go with the IAF.”

Days before the celebrations of Independence on August 15, 1947, a few officers including Randhir Singh were asked to shift their 12-aircraft Tempest fleet to Palam air base near Delhi. And as the tricolour waved on the morning of August 15, declaring independence, Flight Commander Randhir Singh became a part of the first fly-past of RIAF aircraft over the Red Fort in New Delhi under the leadership of wing commander and acting group captain, Arjan Singh.

During the Jammu and Kashmir operations in 1947, as a No 7 Squadron Flight Lieutenant, he flew for 185 hours in the Tempest aircraft attacking Pakistani intruders, even as the enemy continued to fire. This earned him a Vir Chakra for his display of valour and courage.

According to an Indian Express report, equipped with the newly-inducted Electric Canberra as the Commanding Officer of 106 Squadron, he excelled in the strategic reconnaissance role and detected Chinese troop movements in Tibet, leading to the 1962 war.

He revealed how proud he was of his achievement during the time he was deployed as an Air Commodore during the Indo-Pak War of 1971. He commanded the Adampur air base in defensive and offensive operations. Due to his well-planned and strong defence, the Pakistani Air Force could not attack the air base.  “Instead, the IAF squadrons on the base were successful in flying maximum attacking sorties in the western theatre of the war,” said Singh.He was honoured with the Ati Vishisht Seva Medal and Param Vishisht Seva Medal for his contribution to the 1965 and 1971 wars. Air Marshal Randhir Singh retired in April 1978 and settled down in Chandigarh. After a prolonged illness, at the age of 97, the war hero breathed his last on September 18, 2018.