Today,we are much better, a simple sentence holds a deep meaning when Brigadier (Retd) R Jatar says it. Back from a 10-day visit to Rezang La war memorial where he,then a company commander,and his men fought the Chinese 50 years ago,Jatars comment conveys the difference between the state of the Indian Army in 1962 and today.
Jatar,along with his son Ranjit,family members and Col (retd) Sohan Roy,visited the war memorial at Rezang La to pay tribute to the martyrs of the Sino-Indian conflict of 1962.
We flew to Srinagar and then travelled to Leh via Batalik. We visited the Rezang La war memorial and paid tribute to the soldiers who lost their lives fighting for their country, said Jatar,who was commissioned into the 13 Kumaon regiment and was a company commander posted at Magar Hill,an important feature from the point of view of protecting the Chushul airfield.
While a Chinese attack was anticipated at Magar Hill,the Chinese chose not to do so. Jatars company pulled back on November 20,1962,while ceasefire was declared on November 21. A witness to the war described as the Himalayan Blunder,Jatar finds a difference between the Indian Army then and now.
Compared to the troops posted along the McMohan line,we in Ladakh were better equipped,or rather,better placed. But then,it was an overall defeat in detail. Today,without giving out much about our preparedness,I can say the Army is in a much better position than what it was in 1962, Jatar said,adding,One thing is sure,though the soldier is the same. All they need to be provided is good leadership. In fact,we have the best officers who fight from the front.
We went to pay homage to those great soldiers who are forgotten. They lacked everything but courage,yet fought bravely till the last breath, said Col Roy,a biker who rode from Delhi to Chushul and all the way back.
Having travelled to Rezang La twice,Roy,this time,carried a banner depicting the events that took place during the battle at Rezang La. I displayed the banner wherever I halted. People asked me about the war and the soldiers who fought bravely. Narrating those stories of bravery made my tribute worthwhile, he added.