Its 4:30 AM in the morning, a soldier brings in a cup of steaming hot cup of tea. Breakfast at 9 AM. A soldier polishes his and another irons up his senior’s uniforms. Another folds up his sheets and makes up the crumpled bed. These are the privileges, Major General Jaswanth Singh avails, 5 soldiers round the clock for at his assistance but the only problem is, he has sacrificed his life for over 55 years.
1962: SINO-INDIAN WAR
Rifleman(RFN) Jaswant Singh, number 4039009, was serving with the 4th Battalion of the Garhwal Rifles at Tawang post. On November 17th the post they were guarding came under heavy Chinese MMG (Medium Machine Gun) fire.
It was proving very futile for the Indian soldiers to retaliate with the MMG. RFN Jaswant Singh, Lance Naik Trilok Singh Negi and RFN Gopal Singh Gusain went in to eliminate the MMG. They came as close as 12m and threw grenades to kill the MMG gunner and crawled back to the post. They were seriously hurt but continued fighting. But the story picks of from here.
The Battalion was just reduced to Jaswanth Singh and two others. He refused to leave the post even as orders were to fall back. He was solely guarding a post at 10,000ft countering heavy Chinese reinforcements. If they retreated, a considerable area of Arunachal could fall in the hands of the advancing Chinese.
Without any fear, they set up a strategy to trick the Chinese and earn some time until reinforcements arrived, they hoped. They set up defending guns around the post. Volumes of fire from each gun were planned by the men to trick the Chinese. The Chinese in turn fell for their trap.
The Chinese army thought that they were up against a huge number of soldiers firing from different positions. On the other side, three men were crawling from bunker to bunker executing their plan. This continued for 72 hrs. Yes, for three days, three men hold off a Chinese army group and killed many. Some reports suggest that RFN Jaswanth Singh himself killed 300 Chinese soldiers.
But there had to be an end for this epitome of courage. Chinese got info from an informer that there was only one soldier left and the whole plan fell. The Chinese army advanced instantly. Jaswanth Singh was surrounded. There was no turning point for him. He was down to his last cartridge and he shot himself in the head, never surrendering to the enemy.
The Chinese was furious, they were tricked by this man and they didn’t get their revenge. In anger, they cut off his head and hanged his body at the post. They took his head to China.
After the end of the war. Chinese developed a sense of huge respect to their enemy, who tricked them and slowed their advancement by days, single-handedly. They made a brass bust of Jaswanth Singh and gifted it to the Indian Army.
A memorial was raised by Indian Army, at Sela Pass on the way to Tawang, to honor Jaswanth’s sacrifice. The Chinese gifted bust was mounted there and still sits there.
The locals gave him the ‘Baba’ tag. He is worshipped in the area as Baba Jaswant, who still roams the place and keeps the area secure. Even after his death, he still receives promotions, and interestingly monthly leaves.
His current rank is believed to be of Major General. The Legend goes that convoys in blizzards have seen Jaswant directing the vehicles through the serpentine bends.
Any soldier passing through this area from the lowest of ranks to the Generals, everyone continues their journey only after paying tribute to him at the memorial, called Jaswanth Garh.
Inside of the Jaswanth Garh, one can see his personal items still safely maintained. His rifle, uniforms, shoes. One can see his leave applications, and the clearance for the leave.
His shoes are found muddy the next morning, his bed wrinkled, uniform shabby, locals and the army alike believes that he roams the area.
There are legends who are remembered, and there are some who still lives even after their ultimate sacrifice.