A Graveyard of Trophies

Longewala, Rajasthan

January 2016

Quartered in sand, silent to remain. When the bugle calls, they shall rise and march again.

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Longewala is known as a strategic turning point in India’s scuffle against Pakistan in 1971 and has ended up being immortalized in semi-functional movie Border (1997). There is nothing exceptional about the place; Longewala is known for its isolated location without any outside support or the presence of any defensive minefield. However, if by any chance it comes under the thumbs of the enemy, it would have resulted in capture of vast area of Indian territory, almost up to Jaisalmer.

The post of Longewala was manned by a total of 120 men of the Alfa Company of 23 Punjab regiment under the command of Major Kuldip Singh Chandpuri, along with a handful of Indian Border Security Force (BSF Rajputs). On the night of December 4, Major Chandpuri was informed regarding the immediate approach of Pakistani forces, comprising of infantry and tanks. The Major promptly informed his Commanding Officer of the impending attack and requested for urgent armors and reinforcements. Battalion headquarters responded saying that reinforcements wasn’t possible before dawn. Major Chandpuri was left with two options: one, to attempt and hold out until reinforced, or, two, to command a tactile on foot retreat of his company to Ramgarh.

The odd was heavily stacked againstthe Indian army;  Chandpuri and his men only had a section of MMG’s, 2 Recoil-less Gun detachments and 81mm Mortars with which they kept Brig. Tariq Mir-led army of 2000-3000 Pak soldiers equipped with 50+ Sherman and T-59 China-made tanks at bay for good six hours of the night. Although massively outnumbered, the accurate firing by the men of the 23 Punjab held off the Pakistani attack and by 5 AM the next morning, the enemy had lost 12 tanks and a number of other vehicles.

Other than the strategies involved in war history, what intrigued me the most about Longewala was the its proximity to the border. However, the only way you can actually reach the border is if you have a permission letter from the Army Office, which takes approximately 3-4 days to be processed.

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To ensure that the tourists remember our brave soldiers who have sacrificed their life to ensure our safety, a war memorial has been built, which not only honors our fallen souls, but also the war trophies that we earned that represents our hard-earned victory.

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Destroyed Pakistani T-59 Tank belonging to the 22 Cavalry of Pakistani Army. It is one of the 37 tanks destroyed in the battlefield of Longewala
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Our Flag does not fly because the wind moves it. It flies with the last breath of each soldier, who made the supreme sacrifice protecting it. 
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