Hero of Mission Hot Spring Recalls How Indian Soldiers Fought the Chinese


79-year-old Sonam Wangyal is a Ladakhi hero who retired from CRPF. He is the only surviving soldier from the Hot Spring mission. He says China was following a dual policy at that time as well. On the one hand, Indians and Chinese were brothers. While on the other hand, they were pushing forward the strategy of massive infiltration in the strategic areas of Leh-Ladakh. Before the 1962 battle, Chinese troops made a tremendous infiltration in Leh-Ladakh in 1959.

Hundreds of Chinese soldiers were present there. They were in a much better position than our jawans in comparison to weapons and other resources. Even though we were a handful in number, our soldiers fought bravely with the Chinese army. Chinese soldiers were present there, yet our comrades, showing bravery, not only evacuated the hot spring post but also drove the Chinese troops from many other positions.

According to Sonam Wangyal, the war that China waged in 1962 was in preparation for many years. If we say that the incident of 1959 was not merely an intrusion but a strategy of war, then it would not be wrong. At that time our brave people stopped China from moving forward. In Ladakh, the temperature was minus 40 degrees, at an altitude of 16 thousand feet. We did not have automatic weapons. There were war rifles. We were already very few in number. The government had intelligence input that Chinese troops infiltrated several areas in September 1959.

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The area of hot spring was very important for us. Chinese soldiers came and sat there. We were 60-70 soldiers. One troop consisted of forty and the other twenty-twenty-five jawans. Our task was to establish an outpost on Hot Spring somehow. Chinese soldiers had arrived there. Our soldiers occupied the post.

At that time, our small force had killed the Chinese soldiers. Chinese soldiers were scared of Indian soldiers. One reason for this was that they were well aware that if the Indian soldiers started moving forward, they would not back down. China did not defeat us in the battle. We were surrounded by deception when we were going to find our comrades. Ten of our comrades died in the same firing.


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