Ahirs in 1962 war
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Valor of Haryana Ahirs in 1962 Indo-China war - by Mr. Tarun Yadava 

In the Indo-China war of 1962, the Ahirs (almost all of them hailing from the Ahirwal region of Southern Haryana) of 13 Kumaon Regiment set an unparallel example in the military history of India by defending their motherland at Rezang La in Ladakh district of Jammu & Kashmir.

The battle of Rezang La, a ridge overlooking the strategic Chushul plains in Ladakh, is one of the most glorious chapters in the history of the Indian army and has been compared by some military historians with the famed battle of Thermopylae. In the unequal war of 1962 against the Chinese where the Indian army rarely stood to fight, the Ahir Charlie Company from 13 Kumaon, led by Major Shaitan Singh, decided that until they were alive the Chinese weren’t going to have a look-in on Chushul, at 17,000 ft. Of the 120 defenders, only three survived, seriously wounded. The rest, including Major Shaitan Singh (who was awarded Param Vir Chakra), were discovered after the winter, frozen, mostly holding their weapons but with no ammunition. This was a genuine ‘last man-last round’ defense and many times more Chinese were killed, the evidence again being frozen bodies on the slopes. Of the 120 soldiers, 114 were Haryanavi Ahirs.

This battle inspired MS Sathyu’s (1964) gut-wrenching classic movie, 'Haqeeqat', starring Dharmendra and Balraj Sahni. On this horrific battle, Major-General Ian Cardozo, in his book ‘Param Vir, Our Heroes In Battle’ writes, “When Rezang La was later revisited dead jawans were found in the trenches still holding on to their weapons... every single man of this company was found dead in his trench with several bullet or splinter wounds. The 2-inch mortar man died with a bomb still in his hand. The medical orderly had a syringe and bandage in his hands when the Chinese bullet hit him... Of the thousand mortar bombs with the defenders all but seven had been fired and the rest were ready to be fired when the (mortar) section was overrun.”

The heroes who were awarded the Vir Chakra in 1962 defending Rezang La were Naik Hukum Chand (posthumous), Naik Gulab Singh Yadav, Lance-Naik Ram Singh (posthumous), Sub. Ram Kumar and Sub. Ram Chander. All hailed from the Rewari district of Haryana, where a Rezang La memorial has been placed in their memory in Gudiani village.

The demand for an Ahir regiment in the Indian Army is still, to this day, vociferously advocated by the Ahir communities of Haryana and Western UP. Senior army figures such as General KS Thimmaya have also supported this demand but, till now, there has been no real progress. It is most unfortunate, as the addition of an Ahir regiment would not only add a stronger dimension to India’s Armed Forces but also raise the profile of Haryana’s proud military tradition of bravery and valor.

[1] Shekhar Gupta “Writings on the Walls” (2003), Indian Express. http://www.indianexpress.com/columnists/full_column.php?content_id=25320

[2] Major-General Ian Cardozo “Param Vir, Our Hereos in Battle” (2003), p225.

[3] JN Singh Yadav “Yadavas Through The Ages”, Volume 2 (1992), p169.

[4] Atul Yadav “Injustice to Ahir Martyrs” (1999), The Tribune.



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