Trenches at R.R Hills

Early morning start  from  Gwahati, being  in  a  civil  hired  vehicle,  as  a  part  of  large  Army  convoy,  the  only  thing  which  came  to  my  mind  was    a phrase  “a  rolling  stone  seldom  gathers  moss”  and  so  here  I  was , travelling  to  reach  my  destination  .As  being part of Army life never let’s a dull moment  in. The life in the Army , takes us to places, which one would not even think of travelling to,  in wildest of their dreams.

But then this is the beauty of travelling the country, as Army life comes with its own set  of perks and privileges . 

As my journey began,    Karupetia  in Assam,  became  my  first  halt, moving  further  towards  Tejpur,  I  realised  the  importance  of  the  place,  in  terms  of  a  military  establishment,  as ,  till   this,  very  place,  the  Chinese  army  marched,  during  the  aggression  of  1962.  Next,  As  I   crossed,  the  place , called  Balukpong,  it  was  time  to  say  goodbye  to  the  long  plain  roads,  as     the  hills welcomed   me , with densely forested areas and banana plantings along the road side with regular water falls on the way,   but  not  a  single  roadside  vendor  or  kiosks  on  the  way  to  be  seen,  except  for  the  hardworking  hill  folk  pedestrians  .The  tiresome hill journey with twists and turns accompanied  with motion sickness and bumpy ride  continued till  we reached our next halt, called ‘ Sessa’ ,  for  lunch  . As I  moved  beyond  Sessa,

  along the roadside ,  there  were   end  number  of  epitaphs in  the  memory of the people , who met with accidents,  reminding  us  about  the  road  safety  norms,   and  cautionary  warnings  for  the  drivers.. ,   . As I touched the   place  called  Tenga,   one was welcomed with colourful flags  and  symbols  pertaining  to  Buddhism,  but  still  the  journey  appeared  to  be  never-ending,  with  each  hair-pin  turn, I  became  restless , by the time I reached   Bomdila, I was only cribbing  and cursing my luck,   to  be  struck  in  this  corner  of  the  country.  All I  could   do  now,  was  to  just  hit  the  bed  and  wait  for  the  morning  to  happen  ,    but  that  too  happened  a  bit  early,  as  Arunachal  Pradesh  is   known as the land of rising sun,  and  so  I  was  welcomed  by  the  first  rays  of  the  Early  Sunrise.



 


As  one  took  to  expoloring  the  place,  one  could  see   ladies carrying babies strapped  to  them,   with pink cheeks and running noses  clung  to  their  mothers  like  baby  monkeys,  but  the  women-folk  in  their  Bakku  looked  absolutely  adorable , the  older  lot was  the  most   hard-working,   carrying   the wooden logs on  their  backs,  and  walking  for  miles. 


  The upper and lower Gompa  of   Bomdila  with  vibrant  and  colourful  flags  and  soothing  sound  of  the  prayer  wheels , with  monks  soaking  the  sun,  made  the  place  all  so  calm  and  serene,  but  something  vital  was  yet  to  be  explored.  Bomdila is  also  known  for  other  reasons  as  well   , as  it  registers  the  presence  of  heavy  military   establishment  here. It  is  the  same  place  which  along  with  Tawang  and  Rupa  saw  major Indian resistance, during 1962 Chinese aggression . The memories of which are still fresh in the minds of the people  here, as it was hard times for them, the locals. However   the Arunachali’s, took   it with pride and honour as  they helped Indian soldiers to fight against all odds, against the intrusion of Chinese soldiers.   Stories of war   have  become, the tales and folklore’s  here,  elderly so  fondly  recollect  the  happenings  of  the  past,  stories being handed down from one generation to another.


   For Indian soldiers it was a prolonged war against enemy , hostile terrain and biting cold , as we look into the history, we see that in the autumn of 1962 ,  Tawang  fell  to   the invading Chinese people liberation Army 

 And  in  Bomdila,  then  ,  the   Headquarter  of  Kameng  frontier division,  there was sheer panic.



.Though  the  place  is  abundant  with  the Heroism  of  our   jawans, who  fought without appropriate clothes  and rubber boots in such  hostile  conditions,  in  freezing  temperatures,  that  too,  unprepared.  The  spot  where  this  all action  took  place  is known  as  R.R hill  now.






 R.R hill stands witness to the Chinese aggression, it also holds within itself the  the  courage  ,  valour  and  sacrifice  of  Subedar  Pritam Singh, who   kept holding the position   till  the  last.  The trenches are  witness to the history, which look, as they have  been freshly   dug  up,  the valiant  young officers, who fought without any logistics support. Their names are etched   in  the  history, details of bravery, the direct confrontation  with  the  invaders, but  mostly  died  while retreating ,as the orders came, but along with them their heroic tales  lingers  on  for  decades  ,  as  well  as   of the locals  here,  who are not to be sidelined , as  they carried food for the  jawans on mules, then.


.The memorial  at  the  hill  is dedicated to the 

soldiers,  who  laid  down  their  lives,  who  fought the icy cold winds,  the  ones  who  faced  the   extremity of the nature ,  how unprepared soldiers fought a war with Chinese in freezing temperatures ,  even  the  Chinese soldiers walked for days without food  ,  just surviving on  the   wheat  dough, and reached Bomdila , and now this  place  is  witness  to  the  history,  when  the  Chinese  infiltrated  behind  the  Indian  lines  by  launching  multi-directional  attacks,  as  they  caught  our  soldiers  unaware   ,  but   still   had  to  face  stiff  resistance  from  the  platoon  of  I Sikh  LI under  Subedar Pritam Singh.

Though  the  platoon fought  ferociously,  it  lost  most  of  its  men.  Subedar Pritam  Singh  despite  of  his  bullet  injuries,   outnumbered  the  enemy  and   refused  to  be  evacuated  and  fought  bravely  against  them.  When  the  situation  became  grim,  he  and  his  men   with  their   bayonets  unsheathed,  emerged  from  their  trenches  with  the  war  cry  ”  Wahe  Guruji  ka  Khalsa,  Wahe  Guruji Ki  Fateh.”


Now,  As  I  see, around  me  ,  along  with  the  memorial,  lies  the     trenches   ,  the  observers  of  the  historical  event  ,  which  changed  our  equation  with  our  neighbours  forever.   But  apart  from  this  ,  the  trenches,    reminds  me  of  the  blistered  hands   of  the  soldiers, which  must  have  ached  while  digging  them,  but  then  so  tired   at  the  end  of  the  day,  these  constraint  spaces  must  have  served  a  wide  purpose,  as  they  also  acted  as  beds  for  the  exhausted  souls,  while  they  slept  peacefully.  Yes,  they  are  still  lying  here  as  a    witness  to  the  happenings  of  the  past,  have  acted  as  frontiers  as  well  as  power points , have  supported  arms  and  ammunition’s,  life line     in  the  form  of  supply points,  as  it  was  through  these  trenches  the  soldiers  were  provided  their  ration  ,  one  may  also   find  the  old  scraps  of  tin  cans    here,  in  harsh  weather  these  trenches  acted  as  a  shield  for  the  soldiers,  dawn  to  dusk,  as  boredom  persisted  accompanied  with  fatigue  and  exhaustion  ,  the  only  source  of  recreation  was  letters  from  the  home ,  read  and  re-read  by  these  soldiers  in  the  narrow  trench  ,  by  the  candle  light.  In  the  final  moments,  while  bleeding  to  death,     the   moans  of  the wounded  men ,  their  war  cry,  all  was  soaked  by  the  soil  in  the  trenches,  as  their  dust  covered  bodies  lay  in between  these  spaces,  these    confines  have  now  become  the    markers  and  makers  of  the   history.   




  ”  To  save  your  world  you  asked  this  man  to  die:

Would  this  man,  could  he  see  you  now,  ask  why?



-W.H.Auden


The  trenches  are   reminiscent  of  the  world  of  sacrifice  and  courage  of  our  valiant  soldiers  and as  one  visits  these  trenches  spread  across  the  Pass,  they  remind  us :




” Their  shoulders  held  the  sky  suspended;

They  stood  and  earths  foundations  stay;

What  God  abandoned,  these  defended,

And  saved  the  sum  of  things  for  pay.”


-A.E Housman., 

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learn and live :) I like to keep things simple and easy and that is what my writings reflect. A gypsy at heart my six year old keeps me leashed. I'm a blogger @mycityforkids, @womensweb,@yourstoryclub, @unboxedwriters,@polkasocial, @blogadda