Kolkata, March 9: A retired army officer’s daughter and a lieutenant in the Indian Army, was taken by surprise after she discovered an outpost named after her father when she was on an initiation tour at Kyapho in the Tawang sector of Arunachal Pradesh. It came as a surprise for this young army officer posted in Tenga to stumble across “Ashish Top” which is at an altitude of 14,000 feet.
Upon hearing a Bengali name in Arunachal, she probed and came to know that the post was named after her own father Ashish Das, a retired colonel of the Army who was currently at home in Kalighat. After this marvellous discovery, the woman composed herself and made a call to her father. Retd. Col. Das, who received a call from the unit’s commanding officer manning the Ashish Top recalled how the officer told him that his daughter had a meltdown on discovering an outpost being named after him.
“Actually, even I came to know about this post being named after me only in 2003, 17 years after we beat back troops of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and occupied the post at 14,000 feet,” he was quoted as saying. The retired colonel went down the memory lane while narrating the events of 1986 and how it outspread.
He recollected how the PLA had started constructing helipads and permanent structures across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Sumdorong Chu Valley of Arunachal Pradesh. He went on to describe how the then Indian Army chief Gen. K Sundarji launched Operation Falcon and an entire infantry brigade was airlifted to a makeshift landing area at Zimithang, near Sumdorong Chu.
Recalling every minute details of the fight, Retd. Col. Das added, “The Chinese were sitting just across. Our orders were to hold ground and we dug in. Every officer must have made 17-20 copies of wills in the intervening days and handed them over to their adjutants. We started to move forward a few days later and also blasted Kyapho that was snowed in. We did not know that we had crossed the Chinese camp but maintained our position.”
Recollecting the hard days, he went on to add how they survived on rats for days till rations finally reached and how he “was stinking” when he met with then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi at the base. Das said that it was after a while they realized that PLA was after them and it was then he opened fire on the Chinese troops adding that there would be heavy shelling throughout.