Watershed 1967: India’s Forgotten Victory Over China
By Probal Dasgupta
Beginning of the Book
The book is based on three incidents that have shaped the 60s and 70s era. It leaves a question over the former Government’s decision why they have let this war be forgotten. After India got defeated by China in 1962 and the demise of Former Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru. His Successor former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shashtri realized how much development is needed in the defense sector.
He ordered to make our defense strong. However, It leads to insecurity in Pakistan, Due to which it started a war in 1965, Pakistan has to pay the price of war. Though we won that war and the peace treaty was signed at Tashkent, however, We lost our Honorable Prime Minister. After this, we fought a war with China in 1967, which was crucial as well for the upcoming war in 1971.
If that has not happened China would have attacked from Siliguri Corridor in 1971. Former Lt Gen Sagat Singh had given us a gift of a win in Nathu La and Cho La to make Siliguri Corridor secure from invasion.
It benefits us in two ways-
1. It stopped China from secluding the North Eastern States.
2. It stopped China to be a part of the war and support Pakistan in 1971
Parts of Books-
The book is divided into three Chapters-
1. The Road to 1967
2. The Battles of Nathu La and Cho La
3. Epilogue: After the Watershed
The Road to 1967
It started with the Spy of the US who had met Sheikh Abdullah around 1965 in Saudi Arabia. Where Mr. Sheikh Abdullah proudly declared his plan to support Pakistan and China against India. He had met the Chinese official as well as Pakistan. It was decided that Pakistan and China will attack in 1966. Pakistan will keep India busy in the North and Western areas. China will attack India in the area of Nathu la and Cho La. Plan was set by Zhou Enlai, the Chinese Leader has already alerted Former Pakistan President Ayub Khan of a long war and be prepared to lose even Lahore.
However, President Ayub Khan being impatient firstly attacked in 1965 and was prepared for a short war. At last, India won this war, our troops were inside Lahore and President Ayub Khan requested a cease-fire. On January 10th, 1966 Peace treaty was signed, sadly we lost our honorable Prime Minister the next day.
During the end of the war, Sikkim the Protectorate of India started having a problem with the Government of India which allowed China to intervene between the Sikkim Dynast and the Government of India. Meanwhile, former Lt Gen Sagat Singh was posted there had a very friendly relationship with the Royals.
The Battle of Nathu La and Cho La
Since the rift between the Monarchy of Sikkim and the Government of India was rising. Former Leader of China Mao Zedong has succeeded in preaching the Marxist theory in Bengal and Mizoram in India. His agenda was to destabilize India which he had achieved in his regime and we are suffering till now. We were dealing with the rift in the North-Eastern state, Bengal, and Sikkim which was getting worse day by day. Meanwhile, Chinese Soldiers have started violating the area day by day.
They were crossing the border and violating the borders. Seeing the audacity of Chinese Soldiers. Lt. Gen. Sagat Singh decided to fence the border which leads to the skirmish between the Indian and Chinese Soldiers. Chinese didn’t like the intervention in their plan and attacked us at night at Nathu La. However, this was not 1962. At some time Artillery was needed, however, PM was in a meeting Lt Gen Sagat Singh has given a go-ahead for it. We were confident enough to win the war.
After the loss in Nathu La, the Chinese Army attacked Cho La, where Debi Prasad before getting killed in action had killed a lot of Chinese soldiers and a crucial machine gunner with his khukuri. He was killed inside the Chinese Territory. Kulbhushan and Narayan had decided to form the two teams and decided to attack the same evening. We fought bravely and have succeeded in gaining the upper hand at Nathu La and Cho La.
A couple of days when the bodies were exchanged, a Chinese official has asked about Debi Prasad as he was labeled as Tiger of Cho La by Chinese Soldiers. However, this brought criticism and it does not go down well for Sagat Singh then, He was later posted in Mizoram.
Epilogue: After the Watershed
After this win. Peking covertly helped New Delhi to suppress this news. For China, it is to cover up their defeat and for New Delhi, reasons are still unknown might be they would have feared the question over the defeat of India in 1962 and the diplomacy of former Prime Minister Nehru. As time passed by Sikkim was not able to withhold the monarchy and an uprising has been started with the involvement of RAW. Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw become Chief of Army Staff in 1969.
Meanwhile, in 1969, Zhou Enlai met US counterparts and bragged about the victory of China over India in 1962. He didn’t let the defeat of 1967 come out to gain confidence, Yahya Khan became the President of Pakistan.
In the 70s India faced the migrant problem on the eastern side and decided to go to war against Eastern Bangladesh around May 1971. Sam Manekshaw refused to vague war around Monsoon and threaten to resign as well. At last, it was decided that we will wage war after 6 months to have a victory over Eastern Pakistan. As expected we won this war and East Pakistan was liberated and Bangladesh was formed.
After this, the protest against the Sikkim increased and it leads to the formation of the 22nd state of India. Over 500 men died in the battle of Nathu La and Cho La. It’s been 50 years that not a single bullet is fired on these borders.