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The hero of Battle of IB Ridge

In October 1962, 1 Sikh was deployed ahead of Tawang to block any Chinese ingress. 11 Platoon was deployed at IB Ridge near the McMahon Line occupying a screen position under the command of Subedar Joginder Singh from Mehal Kalan in Moga district, a solid soldier much respected by his jawans. Mandeep Singh Bajwa writes

chandigarh Updated: Oct 23, 2012 15:37 IST
Mandeep Singh Bajwa

In October 1962, 1 Sikh was deployed ahead of Tawang to block any Chinese ingress. 11 Platoon was deployed at IB Ridge near the McMahon Line occupying a screen position under the command of Subedar Joginder Singh from Mehal Kalan in Moga district, a solid soldier much respected by his jawans.

A no-nonsense man, he was a go-getter, agile and active with experience from World War II and the 1947-48 operations. At 4:30am on 23rd October, the 2nd Battalion of the Chinese 55 Division's 3rd Regiment opened a barrage on the Assam Rifles outpost at Bumla, soon overwhelming it. The attack now developed on subedar Joginder Singh's platoon. The Army Commander having given his assent on the insistence of Captain GS Gosal, the Forward Observation Officer, fire from the 3.7-inch guns of 7 Bengal Battery, 22 Mountain Regiment and the 4.2-inch mortars of 116 Heavy Mortar Battery came down and caused heavy enemy casualties.

The small force under the gallant Joginder Singh beat back three enemy attacks, causing 110 casualties in dead alone, according to sources in the Chinese Military History Society. At one stage, the brave subedar, by now wounded, called for defensive fire 'Red over Red' on his own positions the thinking behind this ultimate step being that one's own troops being in defensive positions would suffer less and the enemy in the open in assault formations, more. However, the unequal struggle was soon over with 11 Platoon's position being overrun with only three survivors making it back to our own lines. The braveheart Joginder Singh, who throughout the action moved between trenches exhorting his men to give of their best, was captured and succumbed to gangrene developed in a leg wound. He was awarded the only Param Vir Chakra to be given for action in NEFA (Arunachal Pradesh).


Victory on the hockey field and at Tongpeng La At 7:30am
The 1st and 3rd Battalions of the same Chinese regiment contacted 1 Sikh's Delta Company defences at Tongpeng La, by now reinforced by another platoon. The company commander, Lieutenant Haripal Kaushik, (from Khusropar near Jalandhar Cantt), the Olympian hockey forward conducted the defence with great skill. The doughty Sikhs, with accurate artillery support took a heavy toll of the enemy killing some 175 according to Chinese historians. Kaushik was especially active moving from one section position to another under enemy fire encouraging his troops. He was a source of inspiration to his men, who fought with great determination under his leadership.

Orders were received at 11:30am to make a tactical withdrawal as part of the overall plan, to the battalion's main defences at Milakteng La and subsequently by way of Tawang and Jang along with the rest of the unit to Sela by October 26, where 4 Division hoped to make its main stand. Delta Company and the rest of 1 Sikh disengaged from the enemy an action requiring great skill and tactical expertise, and a precondition for the proper implementation of a withdrawal order, always a difficult thing to achieve in battle. It has always been a mystery to me why they were not awarded a battle honour. Haripal Kaushik was awarded a richly deserved Vir Chakra for his gallantry and fine leadership.

For the cause of ex-servicemen
Colonel Sadhu Singh Sohi of Nilokheri in Haryana, after retiring from the Bihar Regiment, has taken up the cause of ex-servicemen and serving soldiers with vigour. Establishing an NGO, the Ex-Servicemen's Grievances Cell in 2001 at Mohali, he and his organisation have resolved and expedited over 350 cases relating to pensions, disability allowances, ECHS, legal and general problems of the retired and serving warrior fraternity. With all the rulebooks at his disposal, he and his dedicated band of volunteers start by corresponding with the concerned department. If despite lengthy correspondence, repeated meetings and reminders justice is not received, they resort to the ultimate weapon of agitation and protests. Usually, this achieves results. Anyone requiring his help can meet him at his weekly interaction outside the CSD canteen at 110, Industrial Area, Phase 7, Mohali on Friday or call him on 9815107744.


Salute the Infantry
Salutations to the fraternity of the green and maroon headgear, the ones who take the brunt of the casualties, without whom no battle can be fought, those who close in for the kill with cold steel on their rifles and determination in their hearts - the Queen of the Battlefield. Greetings on Infantry Day - October 27. This commemorates the day when the first unit (the incomparable 1 Sikh) of the Armed Forces went into action to defend the country after Independence.

The writer can be contacted at msbajwa@gmail.com