“He still had his weapon gripping to him even as death took him”
Major Shaitan Singh: The Hero of Rezang La
Major Shaitan Singh was commissioned into the Kumaon Regiment in 1949. The Indo-China war has gone down in history to be one of India’s most disastrous defeats. However, the battle of Rezang La is an event less spoken about which showed the valor of the Indian army against the Chinese.
The Chushul sector was at a distance of 15 miles from the border and was of great significance in terms of the border dispute of Aksai Chin with China. Maj. Singh’s unit was deployed at Rezang La post at 17,000ft.
The “C” company of the 13th Kumaon battalion was under the command of Maj. Singh. On November 18, 1962, a group of 5000 soldiers attacked the battalion. The treacherous cold, biting winds and the terrain made it unfavorable for the Indian Army. Another drawback of this area was that it was crested to Indian artillery because of an intervening feature, which meant that they had to make do without the protective cover of the big guns.
Heavily outnumbered with only 120 soldiers in the battalion to 5000 of the Chinese, Maj. Singh and his team never gave up. The battalion displayed exemplary valor killing 1,300 of the enemy troops.
While encouraging his team to keep firing from platoon to platoon, he was caught in the heavy firing and was struck by sniping Chinese MMG. Heavily wounded, one of his men tied his body to himself and rolled down and kept him in between the boulders to protect him. That’s where he breathed his last.
India lost 114 Bravehearts in the battle and six were declared the Prisoners of War (POW) who later escaped. Maj. Singh was one among the 114. Maj Singh’s frozen body was found exactly where his comrade had left him. He was still gripping his weapon.
For every man lost for us, the Chinese had lost four to five. “No one believed that 120 men had killed 1,300 men at Rezang La” recollects one of the surviving comrades.
Maj. Shaitan Singh was decorated with the Param Vir Chakra for his outstanding courage, leadership, and unshaken sense of duty.
Lest Shall We Forget…