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news details
Tribute to the Galaxy of Galwan
7/5/2020 12:37:31 AM
Col J P Singh, Retd
(Col Santosh Babu, CO 16 BIHAR; one of the Hero of Galwan)

Thinking of Galwan incident of 15/16th June 2020 and battle action of galaxy of unarmed soldiers, led by Col Santosh Babu, one is reminded of Gen Patton’s saying, "I don't want you to die for your country. You should make the other poor dumb bastard die for his country"; and Prime Minister Modi’s statement, “veh marte marte marte mare hain”. At the hindsight it looks as if it is for these sayings that Col Babu must have led his brave men and in the bargain lost 20 precious lives. He made 43 Chinese including a Colonel and one more officer die in the Galwan action.
Initial inputs suggested that seeing a PLA outpost and a tent remaining pitched where it was earlier, he ordered it to be burnt on which a scuffle seems to have ensued with Chinese soldiers who were still there despite assurance of going back, resulting into deaths both sides in which he also died. Hence Col Babu died while doing his sacred duty enshrined in ‘motto of Chetwood’ on the steps of which he entered the elite officers ranks of the Indian Army.
Colonel Santosh Babu, one of the renowned commander of Galwan Valley, in Ladakh Sector, was the Commanding Officer (CO) of 16 BIHAR, the Bn he had taken over a fortnight before. The motto of BIHAR Regiment is “Karam hi Dharam” (work is worship). In the short spell of command, he developed a close rapport with the men that they followed him to the adversary’s camp unarmed. Living to the motto of the regiment, he died performing his sacred duty. Rest also didn’t die for nothing. The have changed the course of sub-continental history. While dealing with PLA in future, heriosm of galaxy of Galwan will always be on the table. Nation therefore is proud of gallant soldiers of 16 BIHAR, 3 PUNJAB and 3 Med Regt who dislodged PLA from the Galwan Valley; neither the diplomacy, nor the Corps Commanders agreement of 6th June. It is their gallant action & blood that endured Modi to tell, not only the opposition leaders, but to the entire world that, “neither an inch of our territory is under Chinese control, nor any ingress has taken place on the LAC or any of our post captured, adding that not an inch of our land will be allowed to be occupied by the enemy, because by then the gallant Biharis, Khalsas & Dogras had dislodged the adversary from Galwan valley.
What triggered the deadly action is almost clearer. During the 6th June Corps Commanders meeting in Ladakh it was decided that PLA will vacate Galwan valley before 15 June, ie within 10 days of the meeting. Since the Galwan ingress was in the area of responsibility of 16 BIHAR, CO himself went on the ground to verify and confirm to his superior commanders of physical vacation of the area or otherwise. (also possible that his Brigade Commander asked him to do so). When he saw the outpost intact, he ordered it to be demolished. While they did it, CO and his escort were outnumbered and overpowered. They were physically assaulted in the most despicable manner. They fought bravely against numerical superiority and in the ensuing combat lost 20 precious lives. After-all ‘Paltan Izzat’ and trust of the nation was at stake at that moment of time. It is under such circumstances that the ‘motto of Chetwood’ below, over the shadow of which one enters the elite officers corps, becomes relevant.
– The safety, honour and welfare of your country come first, always and every time.
– The honour, welfare and comfort of the men you command come next.
– Your own ease, comfort and safety come last, always and every time.
(Col Babu could have sent other officer to verify but it is this motto which made him do it himself)
Many such instances of the past are on record when soldiers gave their life and some of them have been so significant that they created an impact of far-reaching magnitude on the narrow confines of tactical aspects of the warfare which at times took a recourse to strategic outcome and become a structural episode in the annals of military history. One such incident of interest of recent times, akin to ‘Battle of Thermopylae’ is the ‘battle of Uri’ of 23 October 1947, in which 100 odd Dogra soldiers led by Brig Rajinder Singh, stood rock solid against numerically far superior Pakistanis (more than 6000), to the last man, for their fatherland, enabling Maharaja Hari Singh to accede to India and changed the course of sub-continental history. The ‘incident of Galwan’ will become a strategic watershed in defining India-China future relations and sub-continental geo-politics; the glimpses of change are already seen. It has also demolished the myth of unstoppable Dragon. The credit for it will go to Indian Army. Much needed full freedom of action and use of weapons is gift of Galwan galaxy which is a tremendous morale booster.
Leading from the front has been a significant leadership trait in the Indian Army. This is what I have witnessed in 34 years service including seven years on the LoC & LAC and two years in Op Pawan in Srilanka. Nation has seen it vividly in the 1999 Kargil War. Not going into further details of retaliatory action of 16 Bihar, 3 Punjab & 3 Fd Regt and treacheries of rugged mountains/high-altitude and Galwan River, Col Babu's act of valour is a testament to the motto of ‘service before self’ as well as sacred resolve of the Armed forces in the service of the motherland. Being a Bihari Veteran and a Dogra of J&K by birth, I am immensely proud of the act of valour of my regimental soldiers, the Dogras and Sikhs of Punjab & Arty, whose gallant act will be etched in ‘golden letters’ in the military history. Col Babu has earned the heartfelt acknowledgement of the nation posthumously for conspicuous gallantry which is a hallmark of military leadership. It is remarkable and must be taken note of that killing of their CO didn’t dampen the morale of few men accompanying him. On the contrary the death of the CO galvanized Biharis to fight a numerically superior opponent empty handed who possessed improvised death tools. Their number was far less but actions were resolute and in conformity with ethos of the Indian Army. In many ways the action of 16 BIHAR and other units is a follow up of illustrious footsteps of their predecessors who have left their footprints on the sands of battlefields.
Inputs from media and diplomatic circles suggest that the galaxy of Galwan have done themselves, their Paltan, their formation, the Indian Army and the country a great proud and made others job of dealing with PLA much easier. They have also proved that the morale and the will to fight against all odds at the level of an Infantry Bn is the only winning factor in the battlefield.
Many countries in Asia avoid standing up to the Chinese hegemony and PLA’s bully. Many have fully surrendered to their territorial aggressions and diplomatic maneuvers. This is seen in Tibet, Nepal, Southern Mangolia, Pakistan, Srilanka, Bhutan, Hong Kong and South China Sea. This has given rise to China’s arrogance and overstretch of muscles. And this has further percolated down to the rank and file of PLA little realizing that Indian soldier is a different stock altogether. Hopefully Galwan action will be the beginning of the end of PLA bully and Modi era will be beginning of an end of Chinese hegemony.
China has proved beyond doubt that it cannot be trusted, hence any agreement, treaty or talk with such inimical neighbor is meaningless. While what next will be different from the status quo, the current tragic loss of soldiers and a highly competent military leader is a big loss not only to the army but to the nation because it is such people who make or write the illustrious history of a nation. That is what makes young lads crazy for military service. I salute the galaxy of Galwan.
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