NEW DELHI: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday inaugurated a revamped war memorial in eastern Ladakh‘s Rezang La, the site of an epic battle at an altitude of 18,000 feet where over 100 Indian troops inflicted heavy casualties on the Chinese military 59 years ago displaying indomitable grit and bravery.
The battle of Rezang La is largely considered as the finest moment for the Indian Army in the India-China war six decades ago.
Paying his tributes to the fallen heroes, Singh described the monument as an example of the determination and indomitable courage displayed by the Indian Army that he said is not “only immortal in the pages of history, but also beats in our hearts”.
Paid tributes to India’s bravehearts at Rezang La today. The nation will never forget their courage, valour and sup… https://t.co/YifToWcEO8
— Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) 1637232386000
The defence minister said the “battle of Rezang La is considered one of the 10 greatest and most challenging military conflicts in the world.
“The historic battle of Rezang La, fought at an altitude of 18,000 feet, is difficult to imagine even today. Major Shaitan Singh and his fellow soldiers fought till ‘last bullet and last breath’ and wrote a new chapter of bravery and sacrifice,” he said.
“I am saluting the 114 Indian soldiers who made supreme sacrifices in the 1962 war after reaching Rezang La, located amidst the inaccessible hills of Ladakh,” Singh tweeted.
The battle of Rezang La began at around 4 am on November 18, 1962, and lasted till around 10 pm during which the ‘C’ company of 13th battalion of the Kumaon Regiment led by Major Shaitan Singh not only stood their ground but inflicted heavy casualties on the Chinese despite being outnumbered by the adversary.
Major Singh was later posthumously conferred with Param Vir Chakra, India’s highest military decoration.
Defence Minister Singh also met Brig (retd) R B Jatar who was part of the battle of Rezang La.
“I am overwhelmed by the feeling of respect for him and I salute his courage. May God keep them healthy and live long,” Singh said.
The revamped war memorial has been thrown open at a time India and China have been locked in a bitter border row in eastern Ladakh for nearly one-and-half years.
The Indian Army had occupied a number of mountain peaks in Rezang La region in August last year following China’s aggressive posturing and failed attempt to intimidate Indian troops.
The eastern Ladakh border standoff between the Indian and Chinese militaries erupted on May 5 last year following a violent clash in the Pangong lake areas and both sides gradually enhanced their deployment by rushing in tens of thousands of soldiers as well as heavy weaponry.
The tension escalated following a deadly clash in Galwan Valley on June 15 last year.
As a result of a series of military and diplomatic talks, the two sides completed the disengagement process in the north and south banks of the Pangong lake in February and in the Gogra area in August.
The last round of military talks on October 10 ended in a stalemate following which both sides blamed each other for the impasse.
In a strong statement after the 13th round of talks, the Indian Army said the “constructive suggestions” made by it at the negotiations were neither agreeable to the Chinese side nor could Beijing provide any “forward-looking” proposals.
Each side currently has around 50,000 to 60,000 troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the sensitive sector.