China did not expect India to give in so easily in the 1962 war, so much so that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) overran Indian posts and reached deep into Tezpur in the plains of Assam, said Colonel (retd) Abhay Patwardhan. He was delivering a lecture as part of a series organized at the Dharampeth College of Arts.
Even fifty years after the war, scars of the debacle remain fresh and the ex-serviceman came up with some rare declassified documents related to the war. Addressing a small audience of mainly senior citizens, Colonel Patwardhan showed a letter citing an admission by then Chinese Premier Chou En-lai to a veteran journalist. Chou En-lai had gone on record saying Chinese leaders were surprised at the feeble resistance of the Indian Army.
Patwardhan, now a defence analyst, also showed a telegram shot off to US President John F Kennedy by Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, in which the latter pleaded for more help from the superpower. As the PLA was over running post after post, Nehru sent the frantic cable depicting the situation and asked for jet fighters and transport planes to stem the Chinese tide.
Nehru’s telegram mentions India was grateful for the help it earlier received from the US. He says that Bomdila, the headquarters of North Easter Frontier Agency (NEFA), was already surrounded by the Chinese and Indian forces amounting to two divisions (18 infantry battalions) were fighting a grim battle. Nehru had expressed uncertainty about how many of them would be able to find their way back safely to the Corps headquarters in Tezpur. Nehru added for emphasis that the Chinese forces were heading toward Leh and there was nothing to stop them after that.
Patwardhan brought memories of the war alive with his presentation to an audience that might have only heard radio broadcasts as teenagers as that time. A 1971 war veteran himself, Patwardhan was 15 years old at the time. He also showed a picture depicting an Indian jawan cooking in a makeshift kitchen, showing how the Army was low on rations besides other equipment.
-via The Times of India.