He is served bed tea at 4.30am, breakfast at 9am and dinner at 7pm. Five Army soldiers are at his service round-the-clock. There are no chores to be done. Life couldn't be more comfortable for 'Baba' Jaswant Singh Rawat... but for the fact that he is no more.
Baba was captured by the Chinese way back in 1962 and hanged at the spot where his memorial stands today.No soldier, not even a general, is allowed to move ahead, towards the Sino-Indian border, unless he pays his tribute to rifleman 'Baba' Jaswant Singh Rawat. Baba of 4 Garhwal Corps who, along with two other soldiers, held on to this post - 21 km from Sela Pass near Tawang - for 72 hours, orchestrating a counter-attack on the Chinese forces before he was severely injured by enemy bullets, captured and then hanged. Baba Jaswant Singh has attained the status of a deity on the Sino-Indian frontier. A temple has been erected in his memory and the Army has posted five soldiers for the upkeep of his memorial. For these soldiers, Baba exists. They make his bed for him, polish his shoes and deliver the mail sent by his admirers. They even clear the mails the next morning after “he has gone through them”. Lance Naik Rajesh Kumar of 5 Sikh Regiment, who is on duty these days at the memorial, claims: “Baba is very much there and eats the food served to him. He even goes out at night as you can make out from his soiled shoes, which are polished everyday.” Rajesh Kumar, however, has one grudge. The Baba still “lives” without electricity. “We have a generator set which we use for sometime in the evening for putting on the lights at the temple and also in our huts,” he says, hoping that the state government may someday provide a permanent electricity connection here.
Incidentally, Rifleman Jaswant Singh Rawat was awarded a Maha Vir Chakra (MVC) posthumously, something the main Opposition in Parliament, BJP, is not happy about. “He was the last resistance the Chinese Army faced when they invaded Arunachal Pradesh, yet Jaswant Singh was awarded only the MVC,” says BJP MP Kiren Rijiju who plans to raise the issue of Jaswant Singh getting the highest battle honour, the Param Vir Chakra. In the battle against Chinese in November 1962, Rawat and two other soldiers were instrumental in killing 300 Chinese soldiers against two casualties from the Indian side. The 4 Garhwal Rifles was awarded battle honour Nuranang, the only battle honour awarded to any Army unit in the Sino-Indian war of 1962.
Details of the Indo-China conflict in brief:
India extended official recognition to the Peoples Republic of China on December 30, 1949, the second among the non-socialist countries (after Burma) to do so, and established diplomatic relations from April 1950. In 1954, Chinese Premier Zhou en Lai visited India in June, while Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru visited China in October, and the two agreed upon the Panchsheel, or Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence. In 1958, when Nehru realised that China had occupied Aksai Chin and built a road through it, he tried to assert control over other areas of the border with Tibet by adopting a 'forward line policy', asking Indian troops to stake claim to remote areas which were also claimed by China. A year later, the Chinese were incensed when India agreed to grant political asylum to the Dalai Lama and his followers who fled Tibet.
This was part of the reason for the 1962 border war with China, during which China's Peiople's Liberation Army routed the ill-prepared Indian troops and occupied most parts of Arunachal Pradesh, then known as the North East Frontier Agency or NEFA, before unilaterally withdrawing north of the McMohan line. That line is now known as the Line of Actual Control. China has not however given up its claim to the region, which was later renamed Arunachal Pradesh (in 1972) and incorporated as an Indian state in 1987.
What happened after the 1962 war?
In 1963, some 5,180 sq km of Pakistan occupied Kashmir was ceded to Beijing by Islamabad under a Sino-Pakistan boundary agreement. India sees this too as an illegal occupation. Diplomatic relations, severed after the war, were restored in 1976. In February 1979, then External Affairs Minister A B Vajpayee visited China, marking the resumption of political level exchanges. But it was only in June 1981 that Chinese Foreign Minister Huang Hua accepted Vajpayee's invitation to visit India, following which the two sides agreed agreed to Officials level talks on the boundary question and on all other aspects of India-China relations. After eight rounds of these talks between 1981 and 1987 remained deadlocked, then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi visited China, and the two sides agreed to set up a Joint Working Group (JWG) on the boundary question to 'seek a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution.' A decade later, Premier Li Peng visited India in December 1991.
Prime Minister Narasimha Rao visited China in September 1993, and signed the 'Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the India-China Border Area,' -- which essentially calls for the status quo on the border to be maintained. It was also agreed to set up an India-China Expert Group of Diplomatic and Military Officers to assist the JWG. The spate of high level bilateral visits stepped up. President R Venkataraman visited China in May 1992, and Vice President K R Narayanan, an old China hand, in October 1994. In December 1993, the chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Li Ruihuan visited India, followed by National People's Congress Chairman Qiao Shi in November 1995 In November 1996, President Jiang Zemin became the first Chinese head of state to visit India, and during his visit, an agreement on Confidence Building Measures, which essentially allowed greater interaction between the armies of the two nations. It was also agreed to exchange maps indicating the respective perceptions of the LAC.