Amid tensions on the Line of Actual Control between India and China, villagers in border areas of Uttarakhand's Pithoragarh recalled the 1962 War and said they were committed to serve the country.
"We are ready to face the enemy whenever the Army needs our help," 80-year-old Gopal Singh Napalchayal, a resident of Napalchu village in Vyas Valley, said.
"We have a strong sense of commitment towards the nation and its armed forces," he added.
Recalling the 1962 War, Napalchayal said when Chinese troops reached near the Darma, Vyas and Johar valleys in the district, villagers helped the Army carry ammunition and food to border posts on sheep and mules.
"Our women donated their gold and silver ornaments to help the nation," he said.
"It was time for our winter migration after harvesting our crop in October when the War with China began in 1962 but our villagers decided to remain here," he recalled, adding that they did not vacate their villages till the conflict ended.
"We used to come down to Chiyalekh Malpa and Jipti camps to carry ammunition to our shoulders up to Garbiyans from where it used to be taken to the last posts on sheep back," Napalchayal said.
Johar Valley villagers said they draw their inspiration from the late Laxman Singh Jangpangi, who was awarded the Padma Shri in 1959 for his services to the nation as an Indian trade agent in Gartok town of Tibet.
"He was the first Indian who had informed the then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru of the ill-intentions of the Chinese," said Sriram Singh Dharmashaktu, a resident of upper Johar Valley.
According to Dharmashaktu, villagers of the Shauka community in high-altitude areas carried all military essentials from the lower areas on their shoulders up to Munsiyari from where these were carried on sheep back to border posts.
"This time, the military infrastructure and air connectivity to border posts is far more improved but if needed, villagers in Johar Valley are fully prepared to make any sacrifice for their motherland," Dharmashaktu said.
Meanwhile, an official claimed that of the three significant border roads in the region, the stretch to Lipulekh Pass has been completed.
"The one leading to the border post in Darma Valley is nearing completion while only a small portion of the stretch in Johar Valley remains to be completed," he said.
A 55-km-long motorable road from Munsiyari to Milam is also likely to be completed by next year, he said.
"Major portion of the road has been constructed from both sides and civilian vehicles are plying on it," BRO Chief Engineer Vimal Goswami said.
According to a defence expert, in recent years, the construction of military infrastructure on the Sino-India border has been speeded up.
"If we had perceived the Chinese threat earlier, we would have been even better prepared in terms of military infrastructure," said Lt Gen (Retd) M C Bhandari, an Army spokesperson during the Kargil War.
According to him, the air connectivity along the India-China border is 100 times better than 1962.
"We are in a position to land all types of helicopter in the border regions of Darma, Vyas and Johar Valleys to support to our troops," he said.