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How Bihar Regiment's bravery at Galwan stunned China

Last updated on: June 18, 2020 14:38 IST
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A senior officer confirmed that the Indian soldiers fought valiantly and with tremendous grit "till the last", even to the extent that half of them died in battle, reveals David Devadas.

IMAGE: An attestation parade was held to mark the entry of 127 recruits into the Bihar Regiment at the Ladakh Scouts Regimental Centre in Leh, June 13, 2020. Photograph: Imran Nissar/ANI Photo

Bihar earned its place in the sun on Monday, June 15, when the brave soldiers of the Bihar Regiment showed their mettle on the Line of Actual Control with China in Ladakh.

They showed courage beyond the call of duty, demonstrating to the Chinese that Indian soldiers are no pushover.

When the Chinese troops viciously attacked the Indian Commanding Officer, who had gone unarmed to talk to them, they probably figured that the soldiers who had come with him would scamper away in fear when they saw their leader fall.

Instead, the Chinese faced the raw fury of the Indian soldiers who ignored the fact that they were outnumbered many times over by the Chinese, who also had the advantage of higher ground.


Like men possessed, the Bihar Regiment soldiers fought bare-handed with no less intensity than lions.

A CO is after all something of a father figure to an Indian soldier. 

The rest of the battalion was no less charged up when the CO's critically injured figure was brought back.

A major is reported to have rushed up with a few more soldiers immediately to take charge of the men who were still fighting.

The battle went on for several hours, and there were large numbers of casualties on both sides.

US intelligence has reported that the Chinese CO was killed, along with 30-plus of his men.

A senior officer confirmed on Wednesday that "there is no doubt" that the Indian soldiers fought valiantly and with tremendous grit "till the last", even to the extent that half of them died in battle.

Startling bravery 

The immediate bravery of those Bihar Regiment soldiers must be saluted and memorialised.

More important in terms of how this situation now plays out, those brave soldiers demonstrated the indomitable spirit of the Indian soldier.

This is a crucial takeaway at a time when China seems to be poised on the brink of escalating hostilities against India. Troops and armaments are massed right across the boundary between the two countries.

Strategic moves of China and other potentially antagonistic powers will take on board how ferociously the Indian soldiers fought back despite being unarmed, outnumbered, at a tactical disadvantage in terms of height, and were taken totally by surprise by a huge number of reinforcements who came down from the Chinese side.

I have no doubt that China's actions have been meticulously planned and involve major strategic objectives.

Even on Monday, they were evidently lying in wait for a fight, with bats wrapped with barbed wire, nail-studded clubs, and other medieval instruments of battle.

And unexpectedly large numbers of Chinese reinforcements were lying in wait just a little behind the forward camp which the CO tried to get them to remove. Those reinforcements turned up quickly to join in assaulting the Indian soldiers.

Given how cleverly they seem to be working to a detailed plan, they may not easily be diverted from their objectives.

But the heroic valour of the Bihar Regiment soldiers on Monday will surely have a somewhat sobering effect.

Sudden, vicious attack

From what we can piece together of Monday evening's events, the local commanding officer, Colonel Santosh Babu, took a group of around 40 men to the Galwan post, where Chinese troops had dug in.

His purpose was to get them to move back in accordance with the agreement reached more than a week earlier, when the corps commander had had a meeting with the Chinese commander.

The Chinese not only refused to move back, they attacked the CO with iron-studded clubs. These instruments were brought by reinforcements, who arrived very quickly in large numbers.

That was the crucial make-or-break moment.

Seeing how badly they were outnumbered, the Indian soldiers could have retreated, carrying their CO. The Chinese probably intended for this to happen.

Instead, the Bihar men charged into the Chinese who had attacked their CO, not caring for the extremely poor odds they faced.

Not just that, their major arrived on the scene soon after, with additional troops. They also took on the Chinese, not caring for the still very adverse odds.

Low-key political response

The government's low-key response to the incident has given the Chinese a little breathing space. In fact, New Delhi's muted tone may have told Beijing that the higher echelons of India's government did not have the stomach for battle and risk-taking that the Bihar soldiers demonstrated so valiantly.

For its part, China did not flinch.

The official spokesperson shamelessly insisted that Galwan had always been Chinese territory, and that the Indian CO and his soldiers had intruded onto Chinese space.

The government must take this on with sharp and clear statements. The CO and his brave soldiers had gone to a point in Indian territory from which the Chinese were supposed to have retreated.

It must be made crystal clear that India does not, and will not, accept the Chinese advances over the past six weeks as having established a new status quo.

In fact, some retired officers have taken umbrage with the top commanders on the ground for not having immediately ordered a counter-attack against the Chinese post when the CO was attacked.

Of course, that could have escalated into war. So, it could be argued that this is a decision that must be left to the government.

The country can take courage from the immediate and feisty response from the soldiers on the ground. They admirably demonstrated the courage and willingness of the Indian forces.

It is now for the political leadership to ensure that they do not let the pithy demonstration of courage by the Bihar Regiment's soldiers in the heat of the moment go to waste.

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