I was a novice in 1961 being recruited into Indo -Tibetan Border Force. Our training was curtailed due to the war and I was hoping my posting will come to Sikkim Border as it was considered a better place to live and also show one's ability with locals living around. I was horrified when i learnt i was posted to Ladakh in 1964. I also feared the cold and i know Ladakh border had one of the coldest regions in the world. Acclimatisation,coat parka, Bukhari, Sleeping bag,Balaclava cap,Jule,Tashi Dalai are some of the terms one has to learn immediately.But my boss Mr.Mistry was fond of reading and so he liked me a fellow bookworm. What i found intriguing at that time was that Chinese actually were conceding to India some odd sq miles of territory in Chumar area .As China has inflicted its will in 1962 a new line called LINE OF ACTUAL CONTROL has come into being.We were pushed back to a line which China actually claimed.But at Chumar which was lying at southern end of ladakh, the ambiguity remained. Whether it was rectified during the 12 round of talks i do not know.
The hue and cry about Chinese painting some rock with red paint brought me memories of Chinese perfidy when they killed three of my constables in 1965. We had a forward observation post at Dumchele from Dungti Checkpost for easy recce up to LAC and also for collecting some shikar of rabbits. We had only four personnel at that observation post. After their successful Rann of Kutch operation The Pakistanis launched operation Gibraltar and India was fighting back especially after the Pakistani attack in Chamb was threatening Akhnoor Bridge. It is at this time an ultimatum was served by Chinese to give back their 2 Yaks and 80 goats or face severe punishment.This arrogance came out of their drubbing which they inflicted on us in 1962. This ultimatum was to tie our Army located in ladakh and not to be shifted to Pakistani border. Though the ultimatum was in Nathula area, they showed their hand in Dumchele area. See the link below of google map.
Dungti/chushul Google map
They just entered well beyond the LAC and took up positions stealthily on a hillock nearby my Dumchele outpost. When the three constables went to ease themselves in the morning with water in rum bottles, they were killed in cold blood.Constable Ramprakash stood up with raised hand but the Chinese just pumped in bullets. We lost Constables Phendo,Ramprakash and H. singh. But the Chinese did not expect another constable Ringchen who was there from Koyul post for some Shikar and has already was walking out when he heard the shooting and saw the killing in cold blood of constable RamPrakash. He retaliated with his 303 rifle and could kill two Chinese soldiers and also injure some. I think this action of ringchen saved me and another havildar who were with me in the tent. They didnot attack our tent and went back. The Chinese were so infuriated with the killing of their soldiers that they equated it with 1962 conflict and lodged a strong protest with our foreign ministry which may be lying somewhere in Ministry's motheaten files.We hid our self in a Bush nearby till night fall and then trekked back to our main post Dungti. But very next day we went to the spot from where the Chinese fired their weapons and collected nearly 100 or so AK47 blanks.From then on every night the Chinese will fire very-light cartridges in the night. They continued this nearly for a month till ceasefire between India and Pakistan was signed. I correctly assessed at that time that Chinese will not attack as in 1962 but will do a psychological warfare with Red Very light .Some lessons learnt at that time.
1.Chinese will attack only if they feel we are weak and we are not ALERT. But when they see our weakness they will be ruthless and attack their enemies to kill. They will not respect any border if they decide to attack and their only consideration was teaching the enemy " A Lesson". The same strategy was employed in Vietnam but their the Vietnamese battle hardened veterans and General Giap taught them the lesson.
2.They know Indian soldiers are from the villages and so try to impress the ordinary jawans with anything which is colourful like Flame throwers and Very light pistols.Now with their sophistication in fireworks and electronics, they might have developed things to Psychologically Impress Indians with their wizardry.
3.They prepare very hard for defence during peace time and build their bunkers really extremely strong.May be modern bunker busters of now will be OK with a direct hit but in 1965, their bunkers could have easily withstood 3 inch mortars or any of the infantry or artillery weapons we had at that time.Our sand bag bunkers and tin sheds stand no match to their defence preparation.They dig and dig and dig with explosives or by hand continuously and build caves in the high ground.
4.their OPs are also sophisticated with rectangular conical prism shaped so that from outside only a small hole is visible while the soldier manning the OP has wide view.
5.They do not waste their energy on patrolling like we do as they are confident of their superiority as inflicted on our psyche in 1962. If they indulge in patrolling then it is for some purpose, either they fear our deployment or look for opening in our defences.
6.Their communication trenches are also dug deep where a soldier can walk straight while in our trenches one has to crawl. Some of their communication trenches can even accommodate a jeep.They also were keeping the OP connected to their command post by land line in 1960s.
7.When they man an OP, it is manned with sincerity and detect an intruder miles in advance even during peacetime.
8.They always plan well in advance meticulously and so when something goes wrong, they cannot innovate and that is their weakness.When General Sagat singh in 1967 pounded them with our artillery and inflicted heavy casualties, this surprised them to silence. as was the case in Vietnam.
9.They do NOT wail when arms are given to India by west or Russia like our seminarists wail when Pakistan is gifted F16s by USA or they develop some missiles with Chinese /North Korean help.
They DEAL WITH THE PROBLEM THEMSELVES LIKE A SUPER POWER.We ask USA to help in punishing 26/11 perpetrators.
The Chinese may have 3000 front line fighters.But our Air force is superior in firepower and in the quality of our fighters and training .We must maintain this quality as Chinese are also rich enough to spend money for quality aircraft's.It is here they depend on Pakistan for reverse engineering in Aircraft pods,HUDs,night vision devices ,electronics etc.Future wars are going to be fought by drones /missiles and Chinese are watching and collecting reaper technology from American drones deployed in Pakistan. They are also spending much effort in cyber warfare with Pakistani help especially those who are working in USA silicon valley. The modern Chinese is not an ideological slave like Mao's PLA.They are Internet savvy and are forming opinion from western /Pakistani journals.As there is very little people to people contact from Chinese side (20,000 Indians are studying in China while it is only 500 Chinese students in India for learning English and software), it is in India's interest to open up our economy where the Chinese are competitive. As a democratic nation we must not fear the Chinese.Lack of Democracy is their Achilles heel as they found out in Tibet and East Turkmenistan.They fear the next Dalai Lama will come out of Towang Monastery in Arunachal Pradesh.They have legitimised this by calling it Southern Tibet.But it is their target while Chumar may be a diversion. India can ask for Mount Kylas along with Manasarowar in exchange for Towang if they realy fear that.
They say the strong remember while the weak tend to compromise.It is Indian nation's take to be strong or weak.
|Johann with Changpa tibetan kids|
|Havildar cook,CRPF officer and AKBakshi|
|Temporary Observation post over Rezang La|
|Johann and Guptha with our staff|
|Dumchele Observation post with the crrew|