Creation of LAC buffer zone forces demolition of 1962 war hero Major Shaitan Singh’s memorial: Report

The memorial to Singh was built at the spot where he fell. Singh’s body was found with his right hand clutching his bullet-ridden stomach.
Major Shaitan Singh’s memorial
Major Shaitan Singh’s memorial

New Delhi: Indian Army has been forced to dismantle a memorial to one of its greatest war heroes of the 1962 war because the area where it was built has become part of the newly established buffer zone between India and China, Media reports have claimed it.

At the famous Battle of Rezang La, a pass in the Kailash Ranges, Major Shaitan Singh and 113 men fought to “the last bullet, last man” against an overwhelming force of thousands of Chinese troops. The memorial to Singh was built at the spot where he fell. Singh’s body was found with his right hand clutching his bullet-ridden stomach.

“It is now in the buffer zone”, Khonchok Stanzin, member of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council told The Telegraph Online. “This was the site where Major Shaitan Singh’s body was found in 1962… Sadly it had to be dismantled” as it now falls within the buffer zone, he said.

The buffer zone was created as part of the disengagement process with China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) following the deadly Galwan Valley clash in June 2020 between Indian and Chinese soldiers.

The government has denied that India has lost a “square inch” of territory to China. But the demolition of the memorial may be one of the most tell-tale signs of India’s retreat from previously held positions in eastern Ladakh since 2020.

A photograph released by Stanzin shows that the memorial was in Indian hands till as late as October 2020 when the 8th Battalion of the Kumaon Regiment had refurbished it.

“This landmark at Rezang La held immense significance, honouring the courageous soldiers of “C” Coy 13 Kumaon,” Stanzin said.

The battle which took place on November 18, 1962, is pointed to in army annals as an example of unflinching valour. Out of the Charlie Company’s 124 men, 114 perished at Rezang La. But they are thought to have killed about 1,300 better-equipped Chinese soldiers. The survivors’ accounts of how many Chinese the Indian soldiers had killed – some with bayonets and their bare hands – were initially disbelieved by their commanders so great was the disparity in the size of the two forces. Singh’s company of Ahirs were Yadavs, mostly from Rewari in Haryana.

The Battle of Rezang La – the pass is key to the defence of the strategic village of Chushul which, in turn, is a gateway to Leh – inspired the 1964 film Haqeeqat starring Dharmendra that is often hailed as one of Hindi cinema’s finest black-and-white war movies. The movie contains the famous song “Ab tumharehawaale watan saathiyon”.

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