With a name like his, one senses a story.
Major Shaitan Singh!!!
Have you heard about him??
Sangram, last night you mentioned the word "superman" while referring to someone. I'll tell you about some supermen your mother holds in esteem, also.
A man who fought with his 123 men in glacial heights, down till "the last man, last round" (which means, Sangram, fighting till one can, till the last bullet/ammo)..... a Rajput from Jodhpur, in the Kumaoni Regiment, fighting to death in Chushul (a valley in ladakh)....in short, a typical Indian soldier!!!
Maj Shaitan Singh got the Param Vir Chakra, which is an award given to a soldier when he reinvents courage and the boundaries of bravery get redefined.
Don't underestimate the PVC....Indian soldiers are the stuff who fuel legends...so to be a legend among legends is to do the indescribable, the un-doable.
Param Vir Charkra heroes are mostly downed in battle when they are given this honour..... they go down in a blaze of heroic glory and it is a complete tragedy that very few witness how these men transform into supermen during battle! When one fights like no tomorrow, well, there generally is no tomorrow for them!
One of the extreme ironies of life is this that sometimes, a man does his finest, most glorious work in secrecy and in quiet! He has no audience! He turns into a superman to no applause!
Very unlike the Olympics where the best compete with the best and gain respect, money, honour and recognition! And are alive at the end of it all!
I write this mail primarily to my boy...and his friends. Hoping that they catch fire too...... and realise that the finest, most noble creation of God IS man! And he is one who puts aside all fear, and does what his duty dictates! When fearlessness, passion, duty and stubbornness come together, the seeds of immortality are also sown.
Okay, so what did Maj Shaitan Singh actually do???
Well, he looked like this.....
He was the son of another Army officer, Lieutenant Colonel Hem Singh Bhati. A latin quote goes " Qualis pater, talis filius", (as is the father, so is the son) so I would like to believe that his father was also a lion who, in turn, sired another lion! We respect established business houses...we take the name of the Ambanis, the Birlas, the Tatas, ...with respect and murmur approvingly! The soldier-son of a soldier is also equally worthy...one follows his father into big business....another follows his father and becomes a defender of his nation!
So, Shaitan Singh was a Sagittarian, born on Dec 1, 1924. He joined the Kumaoni Regiment which is 200 years old and has an illustrious past. This regiment served the Nizams of Hyderabad in the the days of yore! In 1962, India and China clashed....actually, the Chinese attacked and we defended ourselves. India never attacks another nation....it has forever just defended itself!
The 13 Kumaon was posted at Rezang La, Ladakh , a crucial place as it had a landing strip, open in all weather. At a height of 5000 meters. (Which is a damnably high altitude where mere breathing becomes a feat)! 3 Platoon positions defended this area...and there were 123 soldiers in all. The Chinese attacked on 18th Nov morning....number 7 and number 8 platoons were the ones who bore the brunt of the attack...there were no survivors in No 7 platoon...all the soldiers died fighting...some of them jumped in the trenches to fight hand to hand combat with the oncoming Chinese. Number 8 platoon fought to the last round (they were down to their last ammunition, last bullet!)
Maj Shaitan Singh moved from one platoon to another under intense firing and shelling...he did so to direct his men and to encourage them (an officer has a certain number of men directly under his command. An hero officer will inspire his men to fight like demons....the Indian soldiers were outnumbered 1 to 5!! But when they saw their leader fight fearlessly and lead the charge, they followed! Which is why it is said that "be very careful of a lion leading an army of sheep'...whereas an army of lions led by a sheep is harmless!!). Shaitan Singh was wounded but he kept fighting. Finally he was being carried away by 2 of his men and he realised that the enemy was concentrating their fire on him and his bearers. He asked them to leave him and to get to safety! He breathed his last, alone, in the open, behind a boulder...from his wounds and in the biting cold! He was 37 years old!
Around a 1000 Chinese were killed and wounded.
On 21 Nov, the Chinese declared ceasefire....they stopped fighting!
108 Indian soldiers died out of a total of 123 and a further 9 were severely injured! Some other records say, that there were only 3 survivors.....the bodies of the dead Indian soldiers were found after the severe winter ended....frozen bodies with weapons frozen in their hands WITHOUT ANY AMMUNITION!!!
Tell me, truly, did you not feel any pride now?? Not one prickle?? Nothing???
This battle has been compared with the battle of Thermopylae by some historians! The battle of Thermopylae has been made into a movie "300"!!!!!
Maj Shaitan Singh's wife is alive...I couldn't find out anything about his children! She gets 5000 Rs as pension...which may be updated now.
This is just one story of a Param Vir Chakra vijeta...I have 20 more tales!
Now you also know how 'fake' belonging to a state is... a state MUST bow to the nation. An Indian is always superior to a Keralite, Mumbaikar, Gujrati, Bihari. A state is part of the nation....so any one who fights for the state against the nation is absolutely a traitor!
It gets as simple as that!
And the Indian soldier proves this statement as do our Armed Forces, beyond any doubt!
And now you know what the politician really is...when he urges the Maharastrians to beat up the Bihari and the bhaiyas from UP! Or when he talks of reservation....reserve a place in the Armed Forces too! Let each state, each caste, each class, each religion, both sexes...and the third have their representatives in our Defense Forces! That will lend true meaning to the reservation issue too!
We MUST make it mandatory to serve our nation for a year, at least! One person from every family!! And only then we may become the nation we dream of!
Long Live The Soldier!!