“Mom, today we are celebrating the 75th Independence Day, isn’t it?”- My daughter Devi asked me.
“Yes, dear. ‘Sleep peacefully at your homes, Indian Army is guarding the frontiers’-This signboard along the border gives us reassurance that we are protected from enemies.”
“I will tell you the story of a soldier who is on duty even after death -Rifleman Jaswant Singh Rawat of the 4th Battalion of Garhwal Rifles Infantry Regiment. He was the hero of the Battle of Nuranang, the final phase of Indo China war in November 1962 and also an awardee of the Mahavir Chakra(posthumous). After a fight in Nuranang in Tawang District of Arunachal Pradesh when orders were given for his company to retreat, Jaswant Singh decided to stay back. He fought alone with the Chinese for 72 hours, running from bunker to bunker firing and creating an illusion of more soldiers with him. Two local girls (Sela and Nura) helped him. The Chinese captured him, shot him dead, cut off his head and took it back to China as a trophy. Thus Jaswant Singh became a martyr on 17 November 1962.After the ceasefire, when the Chinese Commander came to know about this brave soldier, he returned the head along with a brass bust as an honour. This is installed at the site of battle, now called ‘Jaswant Garh’. Indian Army has built a war memorial and also a temple there in memory of ‘Jaswant Baba’ as he was called by the local people and soldiers who believe that Jaswant Singh is still there alive.
At the memorial, soldiers have been appointed to take care of Jaswant Singh. Daily they make a bed for him, keep his uniform ready and deliver the letters, messages and emails sent by his admirers all over India. It could be a myth or superstition. But it shows the faith people have in Jaswant Baba. As per the soldiers and local people, Jaswant’s spirit roams the area at night and protects them from enemies and natural calamities guiding them or talking to them in dreams. Army convoys and soldiers stop there and pay homage to him. Soldiers believe that Jaswant Baba is alive. They make his bed, keep his uniform ready and polish his shoes daily. In the morning they find the bed sheet crumpled and shoes soiled with mud. Soldiers and local people believe that Jaswant Baba’s spirit protects them from enemies, accidents and natural calamities. Letters, messages and emails are sent by his admirers and followers from all over India.
“Great Mom! this is a true story of patriotism and faith.”
“Yes Devi, this is the heroic saga of Jaswant Singh, the great patriot. The signboard along the way to Jaswant Garh says, ‘When you go home, tell them of us and say, for your tomorrow, we gave our today’. The patriotism and supreme sacrifice of Jaswant Singh and other brave soldiers will be always remembered with respect and pride! We should not forget the soldiers who sacrificed their lives for our nation.
JAI HIND! JAI HIND KI SENA!”
Dr (Major) Nalini Janardhanan