By Pradeep Kumar
Arunachal Eastern parliamentary Lok Sabha member Tapir Gao, who was apprised about the gallantry act of Indian Army jawan Shere Thapa during 1962 Chinese aggression by this editor recently, called on Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi on September 25 and submitted a letter requesting him to grant him gallantry award posthumously to the great martyr.
The minister assured to study properly to take a final decision, Gao told this daily over telephone on Sunday. A copy of his letter was made available by Thapa’s commanding officer Col (Retd.) Amar Patil, which reads:
“I would like to bring to your kind attention to the missing glorious chapter of our brave martyr Hav Shcre Thapa (Nol3710603W) of 2 JAK RIF who had killied 155 Chinese Jawans on 18th October 1962 in Upper Subanisiri sector (Tama Chung Chung ridge) of Arunachal Pradesh during 1962 Chinese aggression in Arunachal Pradesh.
“A detailed account of the war history is described by Col (Retd.) Amar Patil, VSM, who had commanded Hav Thapa as 2nd lieutenant at Tahila during 1962 war where he mentions that the great soldier is revered in the area for fighting till death to protect our motherland. Political interpreter Chader Mangha along with many villagers, who carried supplies, arms and ammunition for Thapar’s Army section, were witness to his bravery. The local folklore says that the corpses of Chinese soldiers were so much piled up that the stream (Ngo, source of Subansiri River) failed to carry them. The local people even built a memorial at Taksing in his honour, mentioned Mangha’s daughter. Even the Chinese had respectfully buried and placed a Chinese inscription over his grave praising his bravery.
“As we await information on 1962 Indo-china war, with such conclusive evidences about Hav Thapa, the Government of India should consider awarding gallantry award posthumously to the great martyr. This recognition would go a long way in highlighting the bravery of Indian Army’ across the world.
“I look forward to your kind consideration in awarding gallantry award posthumously to the great martyr”.
On receipt of letter, Col (Retd.) Patil next day intimated, “MP Tapir Gao has written DO letters to Shri Rajnath Singh,RM and Gen Bipin Rawat, CDS giving details of bravery and sacrifice of Hav Shere Thapa of 2 JAK RIF on 18 Nov 1962 while foiling Chinese Army offensive in Subansari sector and killing more than 150 Chinese. He has requested that the Thapa be conferred with gallantry award posthumously for his unique valour and sacrifice.
“I am really grateful to you for taking up the long outstanding case of award of gallantry award to Hav Sire Thapa (that is how his name is noted in Army records).His very brave action had saved Subansari sector of Arunachal Pradesh and was the only successful action of our Army while in all other sectors our army was defeated in very humiliating manner. We from 2 JAK RIF will ever remain indebted to you for your honourable initiative. Thanks a lot”.
It was senior political leader and then minister Tanga Byaling, son-in-law of Chader Mangha, had taken this editor to Taksing by helicopter in October 2012 and while returning the chopper was flying over Tama Chung Chung ridge when he had indicated from where Thapa had killed the Chinese jawans.
Mangha, who died in 1994, was given a commendation certificate by the GoI in recognition of his service to the nation and promoted to the rank of political assistant. He had narrated the entire episode to his daughter Yating Byaling, a resident of Gosing Taying village under Taksing circle of Upper Subansiri district, wife of minister Byaling, who along with the villagers also vouch bravery of Thapa. I was the first to flash the news globally through Asian News International (ANI) on October 19, 2012, highlighting the bravado of the great soldier news – Forgotten Sino-India War hero Shere Thapa is no less a martyr than Jaswant Singh Rawat.
The news item – The brave Indian martyr (Sere Thapa) remembered – published in a local daily on 24.11.12 last was more intriguing than honour for a martyr who had sacrificed his life in protecting eastern frontier of the nation during the 1962 Chinese aggression as, according to me, it was shameful for the second powerful Army in the world for its deceptive posture.
Subedar Jaswant Singh Rawat (No. 4039009 of the 4th Garhwal Rifles Bn), who had fought a lone battle against the invading Chinese in Eastern Sector (Tawang) by delaying their movement for 72 hours, was conferred Param Vir Chakra and rose to major rank posthumously in 2002 for his bravery. Can Indian Army deny that it conferred Param Vir Chakra was given posthumously to subedar Joginder Singh on the basis of evidence given by Chinese Army about his bravery in Bumla sector, where a memorial, built by former chief minister, late Dorjee Khandu, stands tall today in honour of the war hero?
“Thapa was part of a protective patrol of one platoon located near Rio Bridge in the Upper Subansiri valley. On Nov 18, 1962 at 1500 hours, about 200 Chinese troops came in contact with Thapa’s party. Hav Thapa had fought bravely and killed approximately 160 Chinese soldiers before he succumbed to his death. He delayed the Chinese advance to nearly 72 hour. The great soldier is highly revered in the area for his gallant act. To pay the tribute to the legend, guard of honor was given in a wreath laying ceremony in presence of 22 Infantry Brigade deputy commander Col Satyasheel Baber and other dignitaries besides 200 civilians of nearby villages including GBs of Limeking, TCC and Orak. The 15 Sikh Light Infantry paid tribute to Thapa to commemorate his 52nd death anniversary on Nov 16 as the war had ended on Nov 16.
“The first bridge built by the BRO, named after soldier Shere Thapa, with a 600m steep climb….” is the reference about him with picture of his grave found in ‘Secrets of Subansiri, Himalayan Club, recoding the 2005 expedition report by a group of trekkers to famous Buddhist pilgrimage Takpa Shiri; Arunachal Expedition – Takpa Shiri; In Search of Old Pilgrimage Route to Takpa Siri 2005 and India 2005 – Alpine Journal.
If Thapa had won the hearts of Chinese jawans and revered by the locals for his bravery in Tama Chung Chung Ridge, delayed the Chinese advance to nearly 72 hour like that of Rawat, according to Indian Army’s admittance, to ultimately sacrifice his life while protecting Mother India, why the Indian Army did not recognize his heroism?