Guwahati: The Indian Army marked the diamond jubilee of the Battle of Walong, an effulgent example of bravery, guts and sacrifice by its troops against the Chinese in eastern Arunachal Pradesh, with month-long celebrations that concluded on Wednesday.
Walong, the easternmost town of mainland India, located near the India-China-Myanmar tri-junction in Anjaw district was carved out of Lohit District in 2004. Its name has origins in the Mishmi dialect, ‘Wa’ meaning Bamboo and ‘Long’ meaning place. The Bamboo town of Walong lies 20 km south of the Tibetan border and is rich in wildlife. Mishmi Hills are home to rare mammals such as the Mishmi takin, Red goral and Leaf muntjac alongside rare birds like the Sclater’s Monal. The region is also home to the Giant Flying Squirrel. According to the British officials, the first settlers in the area were Miju Mishmis who reared cattle there. One can even find several abandoned villages here where Tibetans took refuge after running away from the north for many years before returning to Tibet. The breathtaking scenery of the hills and the calmness of the valley was once where echoes of battle cries rung in every ear.
Sixty years ago, during the 1962 Sino-India war, the Indian Army gave a bloody nose to the Chinese in the Battle of Walong. The soldiers halted the advancing PLA soldiers for 27 days, forcing them to sidestep the reserve division from Tawang sector to Walong.
Outnumbered by the enemy, with little ammunition and no resources, Indian soldiers fought till the ‘last man, last round’. This saga of bravery and sacrifice has continued to be a tale of inspiration for generations.
The month-long diamond jubilee celebrations started on October 17. It was inaugurated by Lt General RC Tiwari, AVSM, SM, GOC, Spear Corps at Walong.
During the inaugural ceremony, Tiwari paid homage at the war memorial and honoured veterans and locals who had assisted in the war effort. An equipment display and several cultural programmes by the residents of Walong were part of the ceremony.
The celebrations were aligned with the events as they unfolded in 1962 and saw many activities in Arunachal Pradesh and Upper Assam, including historical and adventure treks, a cycle rally from Roing to Walong, equipment displays, motivational lectures, and painting competitions.
A commemorative tree plantation and the inauguration of a light and sound show at Walong were also part of the celebrations.
A motorcycle expedition from Tezpur to Walong was also organised. Soil from major 1962 battlefields in Arunachal Pradesh were collected and instated at the Walong War Memorial.
The jubilee celebrations culminated at Walong on Wednesday. The closing ceremony was attended by Lt Gen RP Kalita UYSM, AVSM, SM, VSM, GOC-in-C, Eastern Command.
The commander laid a wreath at the Walong War Memorial and paid homage to the heroes of the battle. During the ceremony, war veterans, their next of kin, and locals who assisted in the war effort were honoured.
Representatives of the units that participated in the battle were also present and felicitated during the function.
Gatka and Kalaripayattu performances were also staged by the men in uniform.
To immortalise the brave soldiers, the lore of the Battle of Walong is being showcased in military establishments and many civilian institutes in the country.
The jubilee celebration saw an overwhelming participation and support by the residents of Walong — a testimony of their faith and trust in the Indian Armed Forces.
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