The Dead Man Lives On | The Legend of Jaswant Singh


Have you  heard of a soldier who was receiving salary and not pension after his death ?  Or any employee who kept getting promoted even after his death ?

This is the story of a brave soldier, who according to the legend, single-handedly fought the Chinese Army for three days with the help of two local girls. Rifleman Jaswant Singh is considered the hero of Sino-India War in 1962. During the war Chinese army entered into India via Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, and the battle was being fought at Nuranang, about 25kms from Tawang.

It was the last phase of the war in November 1962, and due to a lack of resources, Jaswant’s unit was asked to retreat. But, Jaswant Singh, Trilok Singh Negi and GopaL Gosain  remained at their post.  Even after Negi and Gosain were killed Jaswant Singh didnot desert his post. The story goes that Jaswant positioned himself on a hill top in a long trench and placed rifles to give an impression that the entire army was behind him. With the help of two local girls, Sela and Nura, Jaswant Singh set up weapons at three different spots and fired them non-stop for three days. Thinking a big contingent was firing at them, the Chinese Army stayed put and didnot move forward for around 72 hours . They finally caught the man who was providing food to Jaswant and  figured out that the soldier was alone.

The Chinese then surrounded Jaswant Singh from all sides. Sela was captured, and she committed suicide while Nura died in a grenade burst. There are various versions about Jaswant’s death; some say he shot himself before being captured, while another version is that he was hanged by a tree with a telephone wire (both the tree and the wire still exist).

Jaswant was posthumously awarded Maha Vir Chakra for his bravery. Rifleman Jaswant Singh Rawat is the only soldier in the long history of the Indian army who is known to have risen through the ranks after his death. He retired as an honourary captain .

It is said that Jaswant appeared in the Station commander’s dream and insisted that he would like to continue to serve the country and will hold the fort there. And hence, even after his death he was considered to be on duty.  From a rifle man to an officer, his story of bravery and patriotism is considered second to none. But what is very interesting and infact inspring is how Indian Army has honoured a brave soldier.  While locals and a lot of soldiers believe that Jaswant Singh is their guardian angel, it is a matter of faith and should not be compared with facts .
Jaswant Singh retired in the year 2002 . Till then he was  treated as if he is on duty and of course alive.  His boots were polished and all other parts of the uniform were kept ready to use.   The post that he held to stop the Chinese troops is now known as Jaswant Garh in recognition of his bravery and sacrifice.  Jaswantgarh memorial has a garlanded bronze bust of Jaswant Singh,  and his belongings including the Army uniform, cap, watch and belt.

Army runs a tea stall  where tourists can buy refereshments at a small token price . The money collected from this store  goes to the upkeep of the war memorial.

We may not want to believe it, get amused, or mock at it, but at an altitude of  13000 feet , soldiers get inspired and derive a lot of strength and energy from the divine existence of Jaswant. It keeps them going in such a hilly terrain. As they say, faith moves mountains..

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