Tuesday, June 14, 2011
जसवंत बाबा भारतीय सेना के अमर जवान
In 1962, when the Chinese Army invaded India from N.E.F.A., a company of Garhwal Rifles was posted somewhere on the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border. They were ordered to vacate their post as soon as possible, but Jaswant Singh Rawat decided to stay back and for THREE DAYS, he kept the rampaging Chinese at bay almost single-handedly. He was helped by two local girls, Nuang and Sella. When the situation became hopeless and to avoid the humiliation at the hands of the enemy, he shot himself. When the Chinese came to know that the post was defended by a lone soldier, they were so enraged that they cut-off his head and took it away with them. Later, after the war subsided, a Chinese officer heard his story and impressed by his valour, returned his head to the Indian Government and also gave a brass bust in his honor. The brass bust is placed on the spot where he fought so valiantly and the place has been named JaswantGarh. The two girls who helped him were also given due credit and the pass was named after Sella and the highway named after Nuang. (courtesy Anurag Bist)
Forty years after his death, an Indian rifleman has become a 'major general' and is still believed to 'command' troops guarding the dizzy heights along the frontier with China.
Rifleman Jaswant Singh Rawat of the Fourth Garhwal Rifles, an infantry regiment, is perhaps the only soldier in the long and chequered history of the Indian Army who has earned regular promotions even after death.Rawat remained at his post at an altitude of 10,000 feet and held back advancing Chinese troops for three days all by himself during the winter war with China in 1962 along the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh before he was shot dead.
The rifleman may have died, but soldiers say his spirit lives on.
Rawat gets an unofficial promotion at regular intervals. He is today a major general, and the post he held to repulse the Chinese is called Jaswant Garh in recognition of his courage.
Rawat's bravery has earned him a distinct place in the Indian Army along the unfenced 1,030-km Sino-Indian border. For the troops he is their guardian angel.
Myth, folklore and superstition are so strong among the soldiers that the battle site has been converted into a Hindu temple, with troops giving Rawat the status of 'baba' or saint.
"Troops passing by this route, be it a general or a soldier, make it a point to pay their respects at the shrine of Jaswant Singh or else they invoke his curse," warned Ram Narayan Singh, a soldier.
"A major general once refused to pray at his shrine while crossing the area, saying this was just a superstition. He died in a mysterious road accident a few kilometres away."
Today at least half a dozen personnel of the Garhwal Rifles are deployed along the border with China to take care of Rawat -- as if he were alive.
"For us he is immortal and continues to protect and bless us in this treacherous mountain terrain," a Garhwal Rifles soldier posted at Rawat's shrine said.
Soldiers behave as if Rawat is still alive - an orderly cooks for him daily, makes his bed, irons his clothes and polishes his boots. His shrine is protected round the clock.
"Each morning his bed is found crumpled and his freshly ironed clothes lie crushed on the floor," another soldier said. "He is here all the time although we cannot see him."
According to locals and soldiers posted near Jaswant Garh, Rawat's spirit roams the area. Some claim dreaming about him.
"The respect Rawat commands even after his death is something very rare in the Indian Army," Major Jaideep Ghosh told IANS. "I have never seen anything like this -- a dead soldier still influencing the troops."
Legend has it that the Chinese troops after killing Rawat beheaded him and carried his torso as a trophy because he alone stood guard against the rampaging invaders - armed with just a vintage .303 rifle.
But after the ceasefire, a Chinese commander, impressed by Rawat's bravery, returned the head along with a brass bust of Jaswant Singh. The bust, created in China to honour the Indian, is now installed at the site of the battle.
"A nation that does not honour its dead warriors will perish," an army commander remarked as soldiers lit earthen lamps at night at Rawat's shrine.