In 1962 Indo-China war, when the troops of Garhwal Rifles were given the command to return back from Battle of Nuranang, a Braveheart from Uttarakhand refused to leave the battle ground. He held the post and gave a tough time to Chinese soldiers with his dare-devilry. It is said that the brave Indian soldier had slain 300 Chinese soldiers with his rifle. But when the Chinese army got the hint that it was not a massive army, but a lone soldier who was holding the post, they decided to retaliate with a vengeance. In the battle between the Chinese troops, Jaswant was outnumbered and realizing that his capture was imminent, he shot himself. The Chinese battalion was so furious of this Indian soldier that they chopped his head off and took it with them. Later a ceasefire took place between India and China. The Chinese army was so amazed by his courage that they returned the head of the soldier back to Indian army along with a brass bust in honour of this brave soldier.
Who was this soldier whose courage struck a terror in hearts of enemies? This soldier was Rifleman Jaswant Singh Rawat who was equal to a battalion and made his mark by resisting the attack of more than 300 Chinese soldiers. More than 40 years have passed, but people still believe that the spirit of Rifleman Jaswant Singh still guards the Indian posts. He is no less than a saintly figure for Indian soldiers and the residents of Uttarakhand. When I read the story of this dare devil, I couldn’t resist myself from narrating this story of Jaswant.
According to military records, Jaswant Singh Rawat along with Trilok Singh Negi and Gopal Singh Gusain was guarding the post. These 3 soldiers fell short to the massive army of Chinese. But still in this odd hour, these 3 soldiers gave a tough fight to the Chinese army in which 300 Chinese soldiers were killed. But this battle also claimed the lives of these 3 Indian soldiers. It is also said that Jaswant Singh was court martialled from the army for not following the orders of retreating back.
As per the local legend, Jaswant Singh Rawat refrained from leaving his post and decided to single handedly confront the gigantic Chinese army. He was helped by two local Monpa girls – Sela and Nura who set up weapons at different places, creating an illusion that Indian soldiers were massive in numbers. Jaswant Singh Rawat along with Sela and Nura used to run at different spots and fire at the enemies. The attack of Jaswant was proving fatal for Chinese. They were clueless about the size of Indian army. But a betrayal proved fatal for Jaswant. The person who was supplying rations to Jaswant was caught by Chinese and he revealed all the details of Jaswant Singh Rawat and his two comrades – Sela and Nura. Jaswant’s life was about to come to end. With a vengeance, the Chinese army retaliated in which Sela was killed in a grenade burst. Legends also says that Sela died by jumping off from the cliff to avoid getting captured by Chinese. Sela had an emotional corner for Jaswant and it was her love for Jaswant that she fought till her last breath. In this battle for nation, even Nura was killed by the Chinese. Jaswant fought with the Chinese army, but this time the luck was not in his favor. He was killed by the Chinese soldiers.
The post where Jaswant fought his last battle is now named as Jaswant Garh. Rifleman Jaswant is known as Baba Jaswant Singh Rawat. His personal belongings are still kept safe even today at Jaswant Garh. Five soldiers are specially assigned to take care of Jaswant Singh’s room. Though the room is empty, soldiers place the morning bed tea at 4.30 AM, prepare breakfast at 9 am and dinner at 7 pm. According to army sources, it is discovered that bed sheets of his room are found crumpled and his clothes lay scattered in the room. The people of army still believe that Rifleman Jaswant Singh Rawat still guards the post as a spirit and is been guiding Indian soldiers in dreams. He is the only soldier who is promoted to post of Major general after his death. His salary is credited every month and most strange of all, he is even granted official leaves.
His popularity has rose to such enormity that countless people come to Jaswant Garh to pay their respects to this Braveheart who had single handedly taken on massive Chinese army. There are several versions connected to story of Jaswant Singh Rawat. Whatever may be versions of his story, one cannot doubt his courage and sacrifice he made for India and still continues to safeguard Indian post even as a spirit.
His story will be a subject of a movie which is being produced by Rakesh Omprakash Mehra. The biopic on Rifleman Jaswant Singh Rawat is in scripting stage and the shooting is soon expected to start.
The saddest part is that Jaswant Singh Rawat was not awarded ‘Paramvir Chakra’ for his valor and his story is slowly fading from the memories of Indians. I hope someday that I will travel to Nuranang in Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh where lies the war memorial – Jaswant Garh which is built to remind us of a forgotten hero named Jaswant. Through this story, I also want to pay my respect to Sela and Nura who fought along with Jaswant and made their supreme sacrifice.
Today business tycoons, politicians and celebrities spend lakhs of money lavishly on their children’s wedding where on the other side a war widow stills wait for the pension of 3000 Rs from the government. Irony is that today’s young mass is ready to sell its kidney for I Phone costing around lacs but is not even ready to drop a 100 Rs note in national defence fund. There are countless Indian soldiers who are rotting as prisoners of war but still there is no attempt made by government to free the soldiers. People cheer up and whistle for cricketers and movie stars but never shed a tear for the forgotten war heroes like Jaswant Singh Rawat.
As long as courageous stories are told by grandmothers to kids, the story of Jaswant Singh Rawat will be told with pride.