Rezang La

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Rezang La
Rechin La
Rezang La is located in Ladakh
Rezang La
Elevation5,500 m (18,045 ft)
LocationLadakh, IndiaTibet, China
RangeHimalaya, Ladakh Range
Coordinates33°25′08″N 78°50′58″E / 33.4188°N 78.8494°E / 33.4188; 78.8494Coordinates: 33°25′08″N 78°50′58″E / 33.4188°N 78.8494°E / 33.4188; 78.8494

Rezang La,[1] also called Rechin La (Chinese: 熱欽山口; pinyin: Rè qīn shānkǒu),[2] is a mountain pass on the Line of Actual Control between Indian-administered Ladakh and the Chinese-administered Spanggur Lake basin that is also claimed by India. The pass is located on the eastern watershed ridge of the Chushul Valley that China claims as its boundary. It is at the head of the Rezang Lungpa valley, which houses a stream draining into the Spanggur Lake.

About 3 km southeast of Rechin La (33°24′52″N 78°52′29″E / 33.4144°N 78.8748°E / 33.4144; 78.8748 (Rèzàng Shānkǒu)) is a pass leading to another valley that is also called "Rezang Lungpa". China recognizes this pass as Rezang La (Chinese: 热藏山口; pinyin: Rèzàng Shānkǒu).[3]

About 3 km northwest of Rechin La (33°26′38″N 78°49′48″E / 33.4440°N 78.8300°E / 33.4440; 78.8300 (Rezang La (1962))) is another pass that was the site of a major battle of the 1962 Sino-Indian War.[2] A company of India's 13 Kumaon battalion fought to the last man in an effort to block the Chinese PLA troops from crossing the ridge into the Chushul Valley.

During the 2020–2021 China–India skirmishes, these passes were again the site of a major face-off between the two nations' armies.

Toponymy[edit]

Map of the Spanggur Lake basin (AMS, 1954)

The old suvey maps of the region label two adjacent valleys leading to the Spaanggur Lake from the south as "Rezang Lungpa". (See the AMS map.) The pass at the head of the western valley was labelled "Rezang La" at an elevation of 16,420 ft (5,000 m). The pass at the head of the eastern valley, unnamed, is at a much higher elevation of 20,670 ft (6,300 m). In addition to the passes at the heads of the valleys, there are numerous other passes leading to branch valleys. Potentially, all of them could bear the name "Rezang La".

The Government of India has stated that it uses the name "Rezang La" for the same pass as in the survey map, the one at the head of the western valley.[1] Chinese sources use the name "Rechin La" for this pass,[3] which has also been adopted by the Indian news media in 2020.

Geography[edit]

Map including Rezang La, Rechin La and their valleys leading to the Spanggur Lake.
A statue of Major Shaitan Singh in a central square of his native city of Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India.

Rezang La and Rechin La are mountain passes on the ridge line adjoining the Chushul Valley, which China claims as its border. India's claimed border is further east, and it coincides with the border shown on most British and international maps prior to Indian independence. The Line of Actual Control (LAC) resulting from the 1962 Sino-Indian War coincides with the Chinese claim line in this region.

From northwest to southeast the LAC passes through the Finger 4 area on the northern shore of the Pangong Lake, the middle of the Phursook Bayon the southern shore, then the Helmet Top hill, Gurung Hill, Spanggur Gap, Magar Hill, Mukhpari hill, Rezang La, Rechin La and then Mount Sajum.[2]

The Chushul village and Indian military post are 27 km northwest of Rezang La.

Military operations[edit]

1962 battle of Rezang La[edit]

During the Sino-Indian War in 1962, Rezang La was the site of the last stand of the Charlie ‘C’ Ahir company[4][5][6] of 13 Kumaon, consisting of 124 Indian soldiers.[7][8] According to the official Indian history of the war, the Rezang La picket of Charlie company was located at an elevation of 5,500 metres (18,000 ft), 11 km south of the Spanggur Gap, on the same ridge line as Rezang La.[9]

The company was led by Major Shaitan Singh, who won a posthumous Param Vir Chakra for his actions.[10][11][12] From the Indian point of view, Rezang La had the drawback that an intervening feature blocked artillery operation, so that the Indian infantry had to do without artillery cover.[12]

In the action on 18 November 1962, 114 Indian soldiers out of a total of 120 were killed and more than 1000 Chinese troops were killed.[13] A memorial in Rewari, where most of the Yaduvanshi soldiers came from, claims that 1,300 Chinese soldiers were killed in the battle.[14] The Indian side was led by Major Shaitan Singh, who was later posthumously awarded Param Vir Chakra, India's highest gallantry award for conspicuous bravery and self-sacrifice in the face of the enemy.

This battle was also important as China declared ceasefire after watching the bravery of Indian soldiers in this battle.

2020 border standoff[edit]

During border standoff in summer, the Indian Army deployed troops along the Line of Actual Control south of the Pangong Tso, including at Rezang La and Rechin La. This was said to give them a commanding view of the Spanggur Gap and China's "Moldo sector" (the deployments around the Spanggur Lake).[15]

War memorials (Ahir Dham)[edit]

Rezang La War Memorial at Chushul[edit]

Rezang La War Memorial

The inscription on the War Memorial at Chushul, Ladakh raised by the Indian Army in memory of the soldiers who died in the Battle of Rezang La, reads as below.[16][17] The first four lines are quoted from Horatius, a poem by Lord Percy Westminster, member of the Governor-General of India's Supreme Council from 1834 to 1838[18]

How can a man die better,
Than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers,
And temples of his gods.
To the sacred memory of
the heroes of Rezang-La
114 martyrs of 13 Kumaon
who fought
to the last man last round
against hordes of Chinese
on
18 November 1962.
Built by all ranks
13th Battalion the Kumaon Regiment.

Major-General Ian Cardozo writes in his book "Param Vir, Our Heroes in Battle":

When Rezang La was later revisited dead jawans were found in the trenches still holding on to their weapons... every single man of this company was found dead in his trench with several bullets or splinter wounds. The 2-inch mortar man died with a bomb still in his hand. The medical orderly had a syringe and bandage in his hands when the Chinese bullet hit him... Of the thousand mortar bombs with the defenders, all but seven had been fired and the rest were ready to be fired when the (mortar) section was overrun.

General T.N. Raina lauded:[19]

You rarely come across such example in the annals of world military history when braving such heavy odds, the men fought till the last bullet and the last man. Certainly, the Battle of Rezang La is such a shining example.

Rezang La War Memorial at Rewari[edit]

General K S Thimayya wished for a memorial to be built in Ahirwal region of Haryana in the memory of soldiers who were mostly from this area. He felt generations to come would seek inspiration from the immense courage and valour of their forefathers.[19] Consequently, another Rezang La war memorial was constructed by Rezangla Shaurya Samiti inside Rezang La Park near Dharuhera Chowk in Rewari city in Ahirwal region. Annual memorial function is held by the Samiti in collaboration with district administration, the Kumaon Regiment and family members of those who died at Rezang La also participate.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Note given by the Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi, to the Embassy of China in India, 26 July 1963. "The location of Rezang La (E 78° 51' 10" N 33° 25' 30" [33°25′30″N 78°51′10″E / 33.42500°N 78.85278°E / 33.42500; 78.85278 (Rezang La (GoI))]) is well known... "
  2. ^ a b c Lt. Gen. H. S. Panag, India sits on Black Top with Helmet under its boots, The Print, 9 September 2020. See "Map 1 – Kailash Range Chushul Sector".
  3. ^ a b "Zhōng yìn tǎnkè yí zài bān gōng hú yǐ nán rè qīn shānkǒu duìzhì xiāngjù jǐn shǔ mǐ" 中印坦克疑在班公湖以南热钦山口对峙 相距仅数米 [Chinese and Indian tanks are suspected to be facing off at Rechin Pass, south of Pangong Lake, just a few meters apart], Sina Military News, 11 January 2021
  4. ^ Brig Chitranjan Sawant (2021). Living Life Loving Life. Prabhat Prakashan. p. 150-151. ISBN 9788184303995.
  5. ^ Bisht, Rachna (2014). The Brave Param Vir Chakra Stories. Penguin Books Limited. p. all. ISBN 9789351188056. Retrieved 15 August 2014.
  6. ^ Arora, Dr. N. D. (2017). POLITICAL SCIENCE FOR CIVIL SERVICES MAINS. McGraw-Hill Education. p. all. ISBN 9789352604906. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  7. ^ "The Battle of Rezang la".
  8. ^ "Micro review: 'The Battle of Rezang La' by Kulpreet Yadav - Times of India". The Times of India.
  9. ^ Sinha & Athale 1992, p. 334.
  10. ^ Press Information Bureau, Government of India (7 January 2007). "Remembering Rezang La heroes". Sainik samachar.
  11. ^ Col Dilbag Dabas (Retd) (15 December 2018). "Heroes of Rezang La 1962". The Tribune.
  12. ^ a b Mohan Guruswamy (20 November 2012). "Don't forget the heroes of Rezang La". The Hindu.
  13. ^ Gen Dalbir Singh (20 November 2014). "COAS PAID HOMAGE TO HEROES OF BATTLE OF REZANGLA". Indian Army.
  14. ^ Shekhar Gupta (30 October 2012). "'Nobody believed we had killed so many Chinese at Rezang La. Our commander called me crazy and warned that I could be court-martialled'". The Indian Express.
  15. ^ Manu Pubby, Chushul tense: Chinese troops within firing range of Indian soldiers, The Economic Times, 1 September 2020.
  16. ^ "Photograph of the memorial". bharat-rakshak.com. Archived from the original on 28 January 2014.
  17. ^ "War Memorial of 13 Kumaon". Bharat Rakshak. Archived from the original on 2 February 2014.
  18. ^ Thomas Babbington Macaulay. "Lays of Ancient Rome". Gutenberg.org. Retrieved 8 April 2016.
  19. ^ a b Atul Yadav, Injustice to Ahir martyrs of 1962 war, Tribune India, 18 November 1999.

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]