For the Ashes of His Fathers and the Temples of His Gods.
The memorial at Rezang La reads the aforesaid lines. On November 18, as we complete 50 years of the famous battle of Rezang La where Major Shaitan Singh’s Charlie company of 13 Kumaon battalion of the Indian Army fought bravely, 64-year-old retired colonel of Kumaon Regiment Col (Rtd) Sohan Roy has rode all the way to the unit's present location in Rajasthan (the location of the unit has not been disclosed), where the golden jubilee of the battle is being celebrated.
This is not the first time Roy, a avid biker, has gone out of the way to pay tribute to 114 Ahirs who lost their lives in the battle during the Sino-Indian conflict of 1962. The biker visited Rezang La war memorial in 2010 on a solo ride covering 2,000 km. What makes his effort more commendable is the fact that he has been fighting arthritis which puts restrictions on his movements making his rides even tougher.
“I owe something to the brave men who fought there. Recently, along with Brigadier R Jatar, I visited Rezang La war memorial. I am a biker and have been paying tribute to soldiers in my unique way,” said Roy who has been invited by the Commanding Officer (CO) of 13 Kumaon which is carrying out the celebrations. “The unit wanted that I visit them on bike. I happily accepted the invitation and here I am to join the veterans of the unit who were actively involved in the 1962 operations,” Roy added.
With his Royal Enfield 500 Classic, Roy left the city on Thursday and reached the present location of the unit in Rajasthan travelling 900 km via Aurangabad-Ellora-Dhule-Mhow route.
“We have a wreath laying ceremony on Sunday, followed by light and sound show, besides other activities. I will leave for Pune on Monday and will travel 900 km on the same route,” said Roy.
The battle of Rezang La
On November 18, 1962, it was unusually cold with snow falling lightly over Rezang La. Never before in the World's military history had a major battle been fought at such an altitude. The Battle of Rezang La commenced hours before the shelling that the rest of Brigade saw from a distance. Within no time every man of the Kumaon Company under Maj Shaitan Singh was at `ready for action' state. According to those who visited Rezang La, three months later, "The dead men were found in their trenches, frozen stiff, still holding their weapons. Broken LMG bipods, and some men holding only the butts of their rifles while the remaining weapon had blown off, bore witness to the enemy fire."