Welcome to the fourth day of the #BlogchatterA2Z Challenge-2020
This is the story of Service No. 4039009, Rifleman Jaswant Singh Rawat ,4 Garhwal Rifles, Uttarakhand.
This brave soldier was born on August 19,1941 in Baryun, British Garhwal District (present day Pauri Garhwal District).
In Sela Pass on the Indo –China Border in Arunachal Pradesh now stands a memorial dedicated to this brave soldier, Rifleman Jaswant Singh Rawat, Maha Vir Chakra (posthumous) of 4 Garhwal Rifles.
This particular army post where history was rewritten is now called Jaswant Garh.
Jaswant Garh War Memorial is a famous tourist attraction in Arunachal Pradesh.It is located about 25 kilometers from Tawang in Nuranang district at an altitude of about 10,000 feet.It has a temple-like structure covered with the camouflage pattern of the Indian Army.
Battle of Nuranang :-
This is that moment in history which immortalized him.
On 17 November 1962, Jaswant Singh Rawat was posted at Nuranang Bridge in NEFA (North –East Frontier Agency,India). His company was relentlessly attacked by the Chinese army. This was the fourth attack in a matter of days. First attempt was made by the Chinese to enter Arunachal Pradesh as Monpas (local ethnic group) but the attempt was thwarted by the Garhwal Rifles. Two more attacks happened on the same day.
It was the fourth attack that made Jaswant SIngh Rawat immortal and gave rise to the legend of Baba Jaswant Singh who guards the frontier in the East even after his death.
The objectives of the Chinese Army had become clear.They wanted to capture Nuranang at any cost, as it would be their gateway to India.
They moved a MMG (Medium Machine Gun) close to where they were under immense firing by the Light Machine Guns of 4 Garhwal Rifles
This created a problem for the Indians.
Lance Naik Trilok Singh, Rifleman Jaswant Singh and Rifleman Gopal Singh undertook a suicide mission.They crawled through rocks and bushes under heavy enemy fire to take out the Chinese MMG with hand grenades. They succeeded, lobbing grenades from as close to 15 yards.
The Official Citation describes this incident:-
In memory of RFN Jaswant Singh Rawat, assisted by L/Nk Trilok Singh Negi and RFN Gopal Singh Gusain as part of Company 4th Battalion Garhwal Rifles on 17 Nov 1962, volunteered to silence an enemy MMG that had come close to their defenses and was firing accurately at the locality.
That very day 4th Garhwal Rifles had beaten back two of the enemy attacks on their location. Jaswant Rawat and Gopal Gusain supported by the covering fire from Trilok Negi heroically closed within grenade throwing distance and destroyed the Chinese detachment of five men seizing the MMG.
However in the process of returning Jaswant Rawat and Trilok Negi were killed whereas Gopal Gusain though seriously injured came back with the captured weapon. The entire operation cost the Chinese 300 Dead and wounded with loss to Garhwal rifles being 2 dead and 8 wounded.
The 4 Garhwal Rifles was awarded battle honour Nuranang, the only battle honour awarded to any Army unit in the Sino-Indian war of 1962.
These crucial 15 minutes act of self-sacrificing bravado changed the course of the Battle Of Nuranang. Indian LMGs came alive and beat the Chinese back.
Arunachal Pradesh could never come under Chinese control.
In a battle that started on 17th November 1962 and continued for the next 72 hours more than 300 Chinese soldiers had been killed.
If you read history, the 1962 Indo-Chinese War was fought by an ill prepared army with no proper boots and clothes toward the cold, lack of artillery support was another issue. At such a time this bravery was exceptional.
For his exceptional courage, Rifleman Jaswant Singh Rawat was awarded the Maha Vir Chakra posthumously.He was mere 21 years old.
The post that he held to thwart the Chinese troops has been renamed Jaswant Garh in recognition of his courage.
(72 Hours: Martyr Who Never Died is a 2019 Indian film based on his life.)
This plaque says it all…
Even though he is no more,the Indian Army still treats him as an active soldier on duty and disburses his salary, awards him routine promotions and even sanctions his leave.
His room in the memorial has a bed, clean towel, linen is washed regularly, shoes are polished and food and tea is served on time.His linen goes for a routine wash and his towel is changed everyday. Soldiers posted at this post take care of his needs as if he is alive. His personal belongings such as his watch and bullet riddled cap are also kept properly. His shoes are polished every day and soldiers claim that they are often covered in mud, which shows he is guarding the post in the night.
Army personnel passing by this route make it a point to pay their respects at the shrine of Jaswant Singh.
If legend is to be believed it is discovered that bed sheets of his room are found crumpled and his clothes lay scattered in the room. It is strongly believed that Rifleman Jaswant Singh Rawat still guards the post as a spirit and has been guiding Indian soldiers in dreams.It has been reported that convoys in blizzards have been helped by Jaswant Singh who directed safety.
He receives regular mail from people sharing their problems. He also gets invitations for various family celebrations from people. People requesting some solace from the problems of life.
Strange ,but true.
(Jaswant Singh retired in the year 2002 after 40 years of his martyrdom.I could not gather information about the changes in his memorial.)
Local versions of his story:-
(The stories posted here are various versions of that particular day, but they all celebrate his exceptional courage. No confirmed written course of events exists as yet about them but it describes a true event in history.)
# One version says that he was accompanied by two other surviving soldiers and the other states that he was helped by two Monpa girls named Sela and Nura. Together they arranged and fired the guns in such a manner so as to create the impression to the Chinese that they were fighting a battalion and not a lone soldier.
# Another version states that he was captured by the Chinese troops who beheaded him and carried it with them as a trophy. After the ceasefire, the Chinese commander, impressed by Rawat’s bravery, returned the head along with a brass bust of the gallant soldier. The bust is now installed at the site of the battle.
A report in Pauri Garhwal edition of Hindustan times states that , “Only nine families now live in Jaswant’s village Baryun. His ancestral house, like many other houses of the village, about 180 km from Uttarakhand capital Dehradun, has also been reduced to ruins and the pathway to this house is lost in the overgrown wild shrubs.”
Another example of exodus of villagers to the town due to lack of source of income. Sad reality of Uttarakhand.
Someone has rightly said, “A nation that does not honour its dead warriors will perish.”
Author’s Note:- Information and photographs have been widely sourced from various websites as well as my personal contacts. Please feel free to inform me of any misinformation or any violation.My email id email@example.com
References for information and photographs credits :
# This is the fourth post for #BlogchatterA2Z challenge. My theme is Uttarakhand-The Abode of Gods .
# You may access my theme reveal here::::: https://pashmeenachowdhary.home.blog/2020/03/16/blogchatter-a-to-z-challenge-2020-theme-reveal/
# Do share your links for quick access…Would love to read…. See you around!!!!!