59 years after 1962 battle: Tension at border with China but Tawang flourishing

china, china border, tawang, indian troops, chinese dragon

For visitors driving into Tawang, a quiet little town of lumber and brick houses with sloping tin roofs built haphazardly around a winding road, it’s hard to believe that one of India’s most decisive post-independence battles was fought here 59 years ago.

Tawang wears its history – and also its present — with ease. The flourishing town, with restaurants selling everything from noodles to dosas and locals returning home to new business prospects, shows little sign of the tension building up at the border about 40 km away to the north.

The giveaway is the fleeting presence of convoys of troops being sent to guard the icy Himalayan heights at the border with China, India’s northern neighbour which attacked Tawang in 1962. Nearly 800 Indian troops were killed and 1,000 captured in the hotly contested but unequal combat.

China has been building military infrastructure not too far from the border over the last decade. This includes new highways, military posts, helipads and missile launching sites on the Tibetan plateau, all of it overlooking Tawang, which stands at a height of 10,000 feet and is about 445 km from the Arunachal capital Itanagar.

According to military sources, patrolling by Indian troops has been intensified along the Line of Actual Control in response to doubling of patrolling and at times “inadvertent” transgressions by the Chinese on the snow-laden mountain borderline between the two Asian giants.

The centre of the town is the ancient Tawang monastery built in 1680 that sits on a craggy height overlooking the township of 14,000 people, mostly Buddhist Monpas and Tibetans with a sprinkling of Nepali, Marwari, Assamese and Bengali residents.

Despite the tension on the border with China and the fact that it is but a three hour, sometimes less, drive from the border, Tawang seems blissfully oblivious to its strategic position.

The number of hotels has increased from five in 2016 to 20 and more are being built. Restaurants are mushrooming, dishing out noodles and also hilsa fish cooked Bengali style and dosas. Shops are laden with Chinese imports through Nepal, army surplus stock and the latest in fashion are flourishing.

Lhamo Yangzom, a London-trained lawyer who has come back to Tawang, is even contemplating setting up a ‘futsal’, a mini football stadium.

“Business is doing well, fuelled by money from construction and road building projects and the influx of more troops. Youngsters are returning home after being exposed to big cities in India and abroad and are starting new departmental stores, tourist companies and hotels. I myself am contemplating setting up a futsal,” Yangzom told PTI.

However, somewhere in the background the ‘Chinese dragon’ continues to lurk in the minds of people.

“Sometimes I get only Chinese FM on my car radio while driving, I don’t know how that happens. Sometimes the phone shows that the pictures I have taken of a lovely mountain or a waterfall are somewhere in China! … almost as if someone is watching us all the time,” Yangzom said.

The past carries into the present in the recollections of those who remember the fall of Tawang in October 1962.

“We heard the guns booming and decided that we needed to shift to safety,” said Tsewang Dhondup, former MLA of Tawang, then just five years old.

“Our ponies were grazing at a pasture below, so my father went to round them up and join us in our march to Bomdila, south of Tawang. We started before the town fell. An escaping Indian soldier sheltered with my father for a night,” Dhondup told PTI.

When the Dhondup family heard that Indian defences had crumbled at Sela, another ice-bound high mountain ridge between Tawang valley and Bomdilla, they joined the panic-driven hordes that marched to Assam for safety.

On October 23 that year, Chinese forces, about 16,000 strong, encircled Tawang after overwhelming underprepared Indian troops at Thagla Ridge and Bumla Pass, the borderline with Tibet. While Tawang is about 35 km from Bumla pass, it is about 70 km from Sela pass.

The bombardment of Indian positions manned by two infantry regiments – 1 Sikh and 4 Garhwal Rifles – and an artillery detachment, began as night fell that fateful day. Given the superiority in numbers, and the fact that the Chinese had encircled the town taking the high ground behind, meant the fall of Tawang was inevitable the very next day.

Tashi, a Tawang footballer, said his father walked all the way to Passighat, a walk of over 650 km over difficult mountain terrain, tropical forests and tea gardens. Others in the Tawang district, wedged between the Himalayan ranges of Tibet and Bhutan, fled to the mountain kingdom while a few daring ones stayed back.

Said Lama Thupten Tsering, of the Tawang Monastery, “Most Lamas (Buddhist monks) ran away as the Chinese PLA has a history of being anti-religion … however 20-30 of them remained.”

According to analysts, the Chinese, as part of a pre-planned strategy, wooed the few who remained and did not loot the monastery or the town, something they were notorious for in Tibet proper which they took over in 1950.

“The Chinese concentrated on Tawang (and a few other sectors) in what is today Arunachal Pradesh and was then called North East Frontier Agency as the sixth Dalai Lama of Tibet was born there and these regions were part of the cultural-religious area where Tibetan form of Buddhism held sway,” said Major General Biswajit Chakravarty (Retd.), a security analyst with long stints in the Eastern command.

The McMohan line, which was agreed upon by the Dalai Lama’s government based out of Lhasa and New Delhi in 1914, placed the border between India and Tibet on the Himalayan ridges. However, the Chinese, who exercised a nebulous over-lordship over Tibet but had withdrawn their token troop presence from there in 1912, never accepted this border settlement.

Somehow, despite the agreed upon border, the religious minded Monpas of Tawang continued paying tributes to the Dalai Lama as the British exercised light control over the remote region.

After India’s Independence, the practice of paying tributes stopped after an Assam Rifles detachment and administrative officials were sent into Tawang. Ironically, according to locals, they were confused when the Indians said no tributes needed to be paid. Ultimately, a house tax of Rs 5 a year was levied to convince them that they were recognized as Indian citizens,

Military analysts hold that spies and fifth columnists were seeded into the valley long before the battle and China made logistical preparations for the 1962 war several years ahead.

Once the initial battle was over the Chinese quickly proceeded to build a road from the border at Bumla to Tawang in a record 40 days which they used to ferry in fresh troops and supplies for attacks further south.

Said Brig Niladri Shankar Mukherjee (retd), secretary of the Kolkata-based think tank Research Centre for Eastern and North Eastern Regional Studies, “We were caught unprepared … after the bonhomie of the 1950s, we had never expected China to act in such a manner. It’s (the 1962 war) a scar we still carry.”

News Related

OTHER NEWS

Ein «drastisches Beispiel für Rassismus» in der Schweiz

Ist der Straftäter Brian ein Opfer von Rassismus? Eine UNO-Expertengruppe ist davon überzeugt. Überhaupt würden dunkelhäutige Menschen in der Schweiz systematisch benachteiligt. © Foto: Georgios Kefalas Teilnehmerinnen einer Kundgebung gegen ... Read more »

The Fed hints it will soon raise interest rates as inflation lingers at its highest level since 1982

© Reuters The Fed hints it will soon raise interest rates as inflation lingers at its highest level since 1982 The Federal Reserve said Wednesday it “will soon be appropriate” ... Read more »

Price of oil over $90 a barrel for first time since 2014

Brent crude futures rose more than 2% on Wednesday, surpassing $90 a barrel for the first time since 2014. Getty Images The price of oil surpassed $90 a barrel on ... Read more »

How to fix the Discord failed to load messages error

© Provided by GamePur Discord is an excellent communication service to keep in touch with your friends and various communities from around the world in a single location. However, because ... Read more »

BetMGM bonus code: Get a $1000 Risk-Free Bet on the Knicks tonight

Julius Randle Getty Images New York Post readers can get a risk-free first bet of up to $1,000 to use on the New York Knicks when they sign up with ... Read more »

Manipur Congress MLA joins JD(U) ahead of assembly polls

© Provided by Hindustan Times MLA Khumukcham Joykishan Singh, accompanied by his supporters, announced his decision to join the JD(U) during a press conference at his Khoyathong residence in Imphal, ... Read more »

SAB's alcopop brand Brutal Fruit launches a perfume

Nobody’s had a whiff of it yet. It’s not on the shelves and there’s no recommended retail price. It may well even be an April Fool’s joke (in January, but ... Read more »

How to check Discord server status during server outages

© Provided by Dot Esports When Discord goes down or experiences widespread server outages, its users tend to notice quickly because most of the platform’s services will be completely unavailable. ... Read more »

Apex Legends 'Broken Ranked Spot' Found on World's Edge

The ever-expanding Reddit library of in-game tips and tricks is back at it again with another great hiding spot in Apex Legends, this time with a broken sniping spot on World’s ... Read more »

How to fix the Bad Network Request error on Discord

© Provided by GamePur The Bad Network Request error that appears on Discord quickly disrupts any communication you might have had with someone over the network. You’ll see this error ... Read more »

Gautam Budh Nagar police commissionerate celebrates Republic Day

© Provided by Hindustan Times A parade was held in which different departments of the force, including women safety wing, bomb squad and special commando team, participated. (Sunil Ghosh /HT) ... Read more »

Leak shows first look at possible new LoL champion Renata

It looks like a new League of Legends champion named Renata was data mined from the Chinese version of Teamfight Tactics. Renata appears to be the new support with a ... Read more »

PS5 owners can now access screengrabs and videos on PS App

© Provided by Dot Esports PlayStation 5 players have a new way to access the recordings and screengrabs from their consoles on the PS App, providing an easier way to ... Read more »

Is Discord down? How to check the server status

© Provided by GamePur Discord is one of the most popular platforms for various communities to gather on. Streamers, websites, and countless other groups maintain servers on the platform, some ... Read more »

Tyler1 is a Masters support in League of Legends after 1.5 weeks

Tyler “Tyler1” Steinkamp has reached Masters tier on his fifth role, support, after only a week and a half of playing. Tyler1 has received much community attention and praise for ... Read more »

Catalonia's parliament pardons hundreds of women executed for 'witchcraft'

Catalonia’s parliament has formally pardoned hundreds of women who were executed for “witchcraft” between the 15th and 18th centuries. MPs in the Spanish region approved a resolution on Wednesday that ... Read more »

Focus on Afghanistan, connectivity and infrastructure at today's Central Asian meet

© Provided by The Times of India NEW DELHI: PM Narendra Modi will host the first ever India-Central Asia summit virtually on Thursday with focus on improving trade and connectivity ... Read more »

US gives more than 400 million free vaccine doses to poor countries

The US has shipped more than 400 million free COVID-19 vaccine doses to 112 needy countries around the world, the White House said Wednesday. “Today, we will hit a major ... Read more »

US-Notenbank kündigt Zinswende für Mitte März an

© dpa-infocom GmbH Geld wird teurer: Die Fed könnte schon im März die Leitzinsen erhöhen Quelle: dpa-infocom GmbH Die US-Notenbank Federal Reserve (Fed) hat eine baldige Erhöhung des Leitzinses signalisiert. ... Read more »

Ukraine mayor & boxing champ Vitali Klitschko slams Germany's ‘joke' offer of 5,000 HELMETS in face of Russian onslaught

THE mayor of Kiev has branded Germany's offer of 5,000 helmets to Ukraine a “joke”. Former boxer-turned politician Vitali Klitschko poked fun at the offer, asking if the nation would ... Read more »

Twitter suspends a Wordle spoiler bot

The account @wordlinator automatically responded to tweets about the game with the next day's answer, ruining the daily puzzle for everyone. Read more »

I rent a tiny flat for £700 a month – I don't have a stove and can't even fit a wardrobe in it

A TIKTOKKER has given a tour of his tiny New York apartment the size of a hallway that he rents for £700 a month – leaving his followers stunned. Comedian ... Read more »

Barcelona confident of signing Chelsea star Azpilicueta on free transfer

Barcelona are confident of signing Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta on a free transfer this summer, GOAL understands. Azpilicueta, 32, has been an established first-teamer for the Blues ever since he ... Read more »

Mario Balotelli's Italy recall is not down to desperation, insists Roberto Mancini

Roberto Mancini has defended his decision to recall Mario Balotelli to the Italy squad just two months before their crucial World Cup playoff. Balotelli, 31, hasn’t played international football for ... Read more »

Melissa Ortega: Two arrested over fatal shooting of eight-year-old Chicago girl, reports say

© Chicago Police Residents gathering to remember Melissa Ortega – Chicago Police Two men have been arrested and are expected to be charged in connection to the fatal shooting of ... Read more »

British Columbia shooting: Four dead in one of the deadliest recent killings in Canada

© RCMP IHIT Four people were found dead after a shooting in Richmond, British Columbia – IHIT Four people are dead after a shooting in British Columbia, making it one ... Read more »

Man ‘a finger's grip from certain death' rescued from cliff

© Wikimedia Commons The man was saved from near the top of Dickmont’s Den, of the Seaton Cliffs, after he got stuck – Wikimedia Commons A walker was rescued in ... Read more »

Amazon shutters widely ridiculed ‘everything is fine' influencer scheme after it backfires

© PA Wire Parcels are processed and prepared for dispatch at Amazon’s Fulfilment Centre at Kingston Park in Peterborough (Aaron Chown/PA) – PA Wire Amazon has quietly shuttered a programme ... Read more »

Billionaire hedge fund manager David Einhorn said an inflation-induced recession is imminent — then the Fed warned prices could stay higher for longer

© REUTERS/Brendan McDermid Greenlight Capital president David Einhorn. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid Billionaire hedge fund manager David Einhorn predicted an inflation-induced recession is imminent. He said the Federal Reserve can do little ... Read more »

Stocks fall after Federal Reserve signals rate hike 'soon'

NEW YORK — Stocks fell, giving up their gains from an early rally, and Treasury yields climbed Wednesday as investors weighed the Federal Reserve’s decision to leave its key interest ... Read more »

Minnie Mouse is ditching her iconic red dress for a pantsuit

British fashion designer Stella McCartney will be designing Minnie Mouse’s new look. Both: Getty Images Minnie Mouse is reclaiming her power in a Stella McCartney power suit. The longtime Disney ... Read more »

Could your good hygiene be making you fat? New study says so

Researchers have identified 11 chemicals in common plastic products that studies have shown may contribute to weight gain by disrupting the metabolism. Getty Images/PhotoAlto Good hygiene is meant to keep ... Read more »

Los Angeles city council votes to ban new urban oil and gas drilling in historic move

Though better known as the homeland of Hollywood, Los Angeles was built on oil. More than 5,200 oil and gas wells sprawl across the city, making it one of the ... Read more »

Double-decker highways are back. But they're not going to solve traffic jams

Frederica Wilson, the US Congresswoman representing much of Miami, says she must leave home by 6:30 a.m. to beat traffic on South Florida’s highways. © Genna Martin/San Francisco Chronicle/Getty Images ... Read more »

France targets groups, websites with expanded powers under anti-terror law

© Reuters/CHARLES PLATIAU FILE PHOTO: News conference after the weekly cabinet meeting in Paris By Layli Foroudi PARIS (Reuters) – The French government said this week it was closing down ... Read more »

Inclusion in legal sector hampered by bias and slow progress, report finds

© PA Archive The Law Society of Scotland has published a report into racial inclusion within the Scottish legal profession (Katie Collins/PA) – PA Archive Increasing diversity and inclusivity in ... Read more »

US President to get Supreme Court pick as liberal justice Breyer set to retire

© J. Scott Applewhite LIBERAL SUPREME COURT Justice Stephen Breyer is to retire, giving President Joe Biden an opening he has pledged to fill by naming the first black woman ... Read more »

Government defends housing record amid war of words with Sinn Fein

The Irish Government has insisted that its flagship plan to solve the country’s housing crisis is “beginning to work”. It comes amid a war of words between the Taoiseach and ... Read more »

Macaulay Culkin and Brenda Song engaged - report

© Provided by Cover Media Macaulay Culkin Macaulay Culkin and Brenda Song are reportedly set to wed. On Wednesday, sources told People that the couple recently got engaged, with Brenda ... Read more »

Analysis: Liberal Breyer is taking no chances in the timing of his departure

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer is conditioning his retirement on the confirmation of a successor and has taken a page from individual justices who have given presidents several months to ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic