Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Changing Ladakh

Chushul Village near the Spangur Gap

Ladakh is changing
I still remember my first visit in 2002. There were hardly any roads outside Leh and the approach from Manali in Himachal Pradesh or Zoji-la in Jammu and Kashmir was not an easy one; only a few flights were landing at the Bakula Rinpoche airport and it was always tricky to get a seat in a plane.
Three years ago, I had the chance of visiting Leh again; it was a few months after the mountainous region became a Union Territory (a long-time demand of the Ladakh Hill Development Council, the Ladakh Buddhist Association and the people in general).
By that time, Leh and a few selected areas had tremendously developed.
But all this was before what the historians will one day call ‘the BC era’ (‘before COVID’) and perhaps more importantly before the confrontation with China in several places on the northern boundary.  
Incidentally, is it not a paradox that one of the most peaceful spots on earth, with its high-perched monasteries, its innumerable stupas and prayers flags floating around everywhere, has witnessed the bloodiest conflicts since independence? It is only due to the belligerence of the neighbours.

Some History
At the time of Kashmir's accession to India in October 1947, political and economic power was offered to Sheikh Abdullah's National Conference government in Srinagar despite the fact that Ladakh covered 70 per cent of the area under India's administration. Dominated by the successive Kashmiri governments for several decades, practically Ladakh was deprived of any say in its development.
Soon after the signature of the Instrument of Accession in October 1947, raiders from the North West Frontier Province began pouring into the valley, looting and burning villages; Ali Jinnah and his colleagues’ motto was: “Let us liberate our Muslim brothers from the yoke of the Dogras”.
But thr Pakistanis leaders' greed had no limit. Their 'two nations' theory, according to which the Muslim dominated areas of the subcontinent were to become part of Pakistan and the Hindus, Sikhs and others were to remain with India, was thrown into the wind when Karachi decided to 'liberate' their Buddhist brothers in Ladakh. The motivation for Operation Sledge, which aimed to take over the vast Ladakh plateau, was not ideological: the treasures of the Buddhist gompas (monasteries) were a great lure for finance-starved Pakistan.
In February 1948, Brig 'Bogey' Sen, the brigade commander in Srinagar was in a fix; how to save Ladakh. The formidable Zoji-la pass was an uncrossable barrier between the valley and Ladakh and there was no way to airlift reinforcements to Leh.
It was then that Capts (later Colonels) Kushal Chand and Prithvi Chand, two young Buddhist officers from Lahaul offered their services; they told the brigadier they were ready to cross Zoji-la in winter with a small caravan of men and mules carrying arms and ammunitions. Though Buddhists and believers in ahimsa, these men were ready to risk their lives and fight their way through the weather, the altitude and the raiders to defend their co-religionists in Ladakh. Nobody thought the mission feasible, but there was no other solution. They succeeded and saved Ladakh (and were awarded Mahavir Chakra or MVC).
One should also mention the Ladakhi, Col Chewang Rinchen, who was twice awarded the MVC-- first for having stopped the advance of raiders in the Nubra Valley in June 1948 and the second for the bravery he displayed in the Turtuk sector in December 1971.
More recently, Col Sonam Wangchuk (another Buddhist soldier to be awarded the MVC) and his Ladakh Scouts recaptured some of the crucial peaks occupied by Pakistan during the Kargil war in 1999.
These Buddhist heroes had to first conquer their own non-violent Buddhist principles before they could take on the invaders; they knew the survival of their dharma was at stake.
From the start, the Ladakhis took the stand that their future was linked with India, though culturally, racially and linguistically they had in the past been close to Tibet.
In May 1949, the first delegation of the Young Men's Buddhist Association of Ladakh led by Kalon Chhewang Rigzin met Nehru in Delhi and presented him a memorandum: “We seek the bosom of that gracious Mother India to receive more nutriment for growth to our full stature in every way. She has given us what we prize above all things -- our religion and culture.”

Creation of a Union Territory

Things started moving faster after the Central Government decided to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution on August 5, 2019; the Parliament of India voted in favour of a resolution tabled by the Home Minister to revoke the temporary special status, or autonomy, granted under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution to Jammu and Kashmir. Ladakh could finally become a Union Territory (UT).
Then early 2020, the COVID wave swept Ladakh, stopping tourism, the newly created UT’s main revenue. A few months later, the northern borders were subject to armed attack at several locations by the People’s Liberation Army. It was a turning point in the history of the relations with China, but ironically the development of the border region got a boost due to the new requirements of the Indian Army and large-scale infrastructure projects started to reach the remotest parts of the UT for the first time.
During a recent visit to Rezang La and Chushul, I could personally witness the changes over the last three years.
But let us first remember the events which took place 60 years.

The Battle of Rezang La
On 18 November 1962, the ‘Charlie’ Company of the 13th Battalion of the Kumaon Regiment fought at Rezang La Pass at the incredible height of 18,000 feet, one of the greatest battles in history; 114 soldiers of the 124-strong company led by Maj Shaitan Singh, lost their lives, heroically defending the nearby Chushul airstrip, the last defence before Leh.
Shaitan Singh was posthumously awarded the Param Vir Chakra, the highest military decoration; his battalion received eight VCs (Vir Chakras), four SMs (Sena Medals) and one Mention-in-Dispatches, making it one of the highest decorated companies of the Indian Army.
A recent book on the battle says: “The valour of the Charlie Company not only successfully stopped China’s advance, but it also resulted in the Chushul airport being saved, thereby preventing a possible Chinese occupation of the entire Ladakh region in 1962. According to reports, a total of 1300 Chinese soldiers were killed trying to capture Rezang La.”
Visiting the War Memorial, one has a feeling of super-humans defending the Indian territory against the Chinese onslaught; it is deeply touching; remember that most of the soldiers of the Charlie Company who fought the battle at this altitude had come from the plains of Haryana.

The Role of the Army
One of the greatest changes in the region is the opening of the area to Indian visitors, something which was not possible during my last visit in 2019.
It is necessary to mention the exemplary role of the Indian Army, which has not only encouraged these changes, but due their own strategic requirements, have built dual-use roads, facilitated the construction of schools and the erection of communication towers (one gets 4G Jio connection in Chushul, nearby the Rezang La Memorial).
During an encounter with some local herders, they unanimously agreed that their lives had definitively changed, they have better access to education (though they would like the school in Chushul to go up to Class 12), health services and communications have greatly improved.
The local population has benefited from the many changes brought by the Indian Army and the UT Administration; they can now provide taxi services (thanks to the opening of the area and better roads); they can open home stay which helps them to add to their poor pastoral revenue and contrary to what has been said in some poorly-informed media articles, the grazers are able to take their yaks till the LAC (except for a small area which has been demilitarized in the vicinity of the Spangur Gap, north of the Kailash Range). The rapid changes are likely to continue in the years to come, hopefully taking care of the fragile environment.
It remains striking that these majestic mountains remain the theater of an armed conflict, some sixty years after the Battle of Rezang La.
Looking at the snowy peaks, one wonders what are the objectives of President Xi Jinping when he speaks of ‘The Peaceful Rise of China’? However, Beijing’s belligerence has indirectly brought a better life to these deprived populations.

Friday, November 18, 2022

The Heroes Who Saved Ladakh For India

My article The Heroes Who Saved Ladakh For India appeared in Rediff.com.

Here is the link...

Visiting the Rezang La Memorial, one has a feeling of super-humans defending Indian territory against the Chinese onslaught, says Claude Arpi on the 60th anniversary of the heroic battle of the 1962 War.

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to interview one of the most renowned Indian mountaineers, who had chosen to live like local folks in the Himalaya. She recounted an anecdote which took place during the All-Women Himalayan Traverse expedition; one day the expedition arrived in a small mountain village; speaking about the majestic surroundings, the mountaineer told one of the villagers: ‘Kitne sundar!’ (How beautiful they are!), the local pahari’s immediate reply was, ‘Kitna dukh!’ (So much suffering!).
Somehow, the pithy phrase summarized the hard life in these high mountainous areas.
These words came back to mind when I recently visited the site of the the Battle of Rezang La, near Chushul village in Ladakh at more than 15,000 feet.
As one arrives by car from Nyoma, the track follows the imposing Kailash range, covered with snow. Immediately, one is confronted by this paradox faced by one of the most peaceful and magnificent spots on earth, which has however witnessed some of the bloodiest battles since independence.
After crossing the Tsaga La (pass) and a few kilometers before arriving at the site of the newly-renovated War Memorial in honour of the ‘Charlie’ Company of the 13th Battalion of the Kumaon Regiment, one can have the magnificent sight of a tri-colour flag floating in the blue sky.

 The ‘dukh’ side
On 18 November 1962, a battle was fought at Rezang La (pass) at the incredible height of 16,000 feet, one of the greatest battles in history; 114 soldiers of the 124-strong company led by Maj Shaitan Singh, PVC, lost their lives heroically defending the nearby Chushul airstrip, the last defence before Leh, Ladakh’s capital.
Maj Shaitan Singh was posthumously awarded the Param Vir Chakra (PVC), the highest military decoration; his battalion received eight VCs (Vir Chakras), four SMs (Sena Medals) and one Mention-in-Dispatches, making it one of the highest decorated companies of the Indian Army.
The citation which appeared in the gazette, said: “Major Shaitan Singh was commanding a company of an Ahir infantry battalion deployed at Rezang La in the Chusul sector at a height of about 16,000 feet. The locality was isolated from the main defended sector and consisted of five platoon-defended positions. On 18 November 1962, the Chinese forces subjected the company position to heavy artillery, mortar and small arms fire and attacked it in overwhelming strength in several successive waves. Against heavy odds, our troops beat back successive waves of enemy attack.”
It is further mentioned that “Major Shaitan Singh dominated the scene of operations and moved at great personal risk from one platoon post to another sustaining the morale of his hard-pressed platoon posts. While doing so he was seriously wounded but continued to encourage and lead his men, who, following his brave example fought gallantly and inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy. For every man lost to us, the enemy lost four or five. When Major Shaitan Singh fell disabled by wounds in his arms and abdomen, his men tried to evacuate him but they came under heavy machine-gun fire. Major Shaitan Singh then ordered his men to leave him to his fate in order to save their lives. Major Shaitan Singh's supreme courage, leadership and exemplary devotion to duty inspired his company to fight almost to the last man.”
Visiting the War Memorial, one has a feeling of super-humans defending the Indian territory against the Chinese onslaught; it is deeply touching; remember that most of the soldiers of the Charlie Company who fought the battle at this altitude had come from the plains of Haryana.
The Ladakh Range and particularly Rezang La and the nearly peaks/passes have an extraordinary strategic importance as they dominates the Spangur Tso (lake), the Spangur Gap (the narrow area between the Pangong Tso and the Spangur Tso) as well as the strategic road to Rutok, the main garrison in Western Tibet and the route to Leh.
By controlling these ridges, the Indian Army stopped the Chinese advance on Leh and probably saved Ladakh. Incidentally, the cease-fire was declared by China four days later. Was it a coincidence?
Though still classified, parts of the Henderson-Brooks-Bhagat Report (hereafter the Report) on the 1962 conflict have found their way to the Internet. It is worth quoting some extracts.
In November 1961, a ‘Forward Policy’ was ordered by the Government; the Report commented: “the ‘Forward Policy’ was primarily introduced to bunk the Chinese claims in Ladakh. Had the developments stemming out of it been correctly apprised by the General Staff at Army Headquarters and correlated to NEFA [North East Frontier Agency], it is possible that we would NOT have precipitated matters till we were better prepared in both theatres.” This sentence has been used by anti-India elements like Neville Maxwell to put the blame on Delhi.
The General Staff of the Army Headquarters knew that any move in NEFA would have consequences in Ladakh, here the level of preparations was minimal; according to the Report: “we acted on a militarily unsound basis of not relying on our own strength but rather on believed lack of reaction from the Chinese. We forgot the age old dictum of the ‘Art of War summed up so aptly by Field Marshal Lord Roberts.”
The latter had said “The art of war teaches us to rely not on the likelihood of the enemy NOT coming, but on our own readiness to receive on the fact that we have made our position unassailable.”
But till the last minute, the government (primarily the Defence Minister Krishna Menon) believed that “The Chinese will not dare”.
The Report continued: “Militarily, it is unthinkable that the General Staff did not advise the Government on our weakness and inability to implement the ‘Forwards Policy’. General [BM] Kaul [Chief of General Staff] on his report has brought out that, on a number of occasions in 1961-62, the Government were advised of our deficiencies in equipment, manpower, and logistic support, which would seriously prejudice our position in the event of a Chinese attack on us.”
At the same time: “orders were given by the General Staff in December 1961 for the implementation of the ‘Forwards Policy’ without the prerequisite of ‘Major Bases’ for restoring a military situation, as laid down by Government. Indeed General KAUL as CGS and the DMO [Director of Military Operations, Maj Gen DK Palit], time and again, ordered in furtherance of the ‘Forward Policy’ the establishment of individual posts, overruling protests made by Western Command.”
Winds of folly were blowing over the Army Headquarters in Delhi; we know what happened a few months later, in October/November 1962.
Maj Shaitan Singh and hundreds of his comrades sacrificed their lives to undo the foolishness of the politicians; the Report added: “There might have been pressure put on by the Defence Ministry, but it was the duty of the General Staff to have pointed out the unsoundness of the ‘Forwards Policy’ without the means to implement it.”
Further, Gen Henderson pointed out: “It is apparent that none of this planning took place and NO operation orders or instructions were issued by the General Staff. It was therefore NOT possible for Command or lower formations to issue any comprehensive order without a directive from the General staff.”
Is it the reason why the Report is still classified 60 years after the event?
One of the conclusions of the Report was: “It was a junior leaders and jawans battle and there is no doubt that they acquitted themselves well. They fought under grave handicaps and in face of defeat; yet there was no sign of undue panic and never a rout. The main reason for this was that troops fought under commanders they knew and trusted. There was no interference or short-circuiting in the chain of command and commanders on the spot were given freedom of action. The good name of our Army was NOT completely marred in LADAKH and the grave errors committed by the General Staff to an extent mitigated, thanks to the fighting ability of our troops.”
Indeed the 13 Kumaon and other units fought like lions. It is said that some 3,000 Chinese lost their lives in a couple of days in this sector.
Leh was probably saved by their act of heroism.
Ironically, the 58 years later, the Tibetan commandos captured the same peaks to have a strategic peep on the Rutok road.
In the process of the negotiations in Chushul and Moldo in the nearby Spangur Gap, the area was demilitarized in exchange of an agreement in the Fingers area on the Pangong Lake. Without commenting on the wisdom of this political move, one can only say Kitna dukh these stunning mountains have witnessed.
While on the spot, an idea came to me, when Chinese officers come to Chushul/Moldo for LAC talks, they should be invited to visit the Memorial to understand what the Indian soldiers are made of. 



Monday, November 14, 2022

The History of the First Months of Establishment 22 (Special Frontier Force)

Today, it is 60 years since the Foundation of the Special Frontier Force.
Homage to the Vikasis!

I am reproducing an old post on the history of the First Months of the Establishment 22.

This post is dedicated to Company Leader Nyima Tenzin, who lost his life near Pangong tso, fighting for India.

The Song of Establishment 22

We are the Vikasi
The Chinese snatched Tibet from us
and kicked us out from our home
Even then, India
kept us like their own
One day, surely one day
we will teach the Chinese a lesson
Whenever opportunities arise
we will play with our lives
In the Siachen glacier
we got our second chance
Our young martyrs
have no sadness whatsoever
Whether it is Kargil or Bangladesh
we will not lose our strength
Whenever opportunities arise
we will play with our lives
Where there is our Potala Palace
and lovely Norbulingka
The throne of the Dalai Lama
was dear even then
Remember those martyrs of ours
who sacrificed with their lives
Let’s sing together
Hail to our Tibet!
Hail to our Tibet!
Hail to our Tibet!
The First Months of the Tibetan Army

Earlier articles on Establishment 22:

The Phantoms of Chittagong

 A War which was not theirs 

 A Two-Two as Army Chief

The History of the First Months of the Special Frontier Force

An aspect which has not often been researched but is the outcome of the 1962 Sino-Indian conflict, is the creation of a Special Frontier Force (SFF). It was to be ready to infiltrate into Tibet after six months following its creation. This did not happen, but it is worth looking at the first months of the Tibetan Army.

The Creation of the Establishment 22

For most Indians, November 14 means the birthday of Jawaharlal Nehru, but there is also another anniversary, albeit an ‘uncelebrated’ one, falling on the same day; the latter has for long been kept secret, as it marks the creation of the Special Frontier Force (SFF), the Tibetan Army (also known as Vikas Regiment or the ‘Two-Twos’). It was founded a week before China’s unilateral cease-fire in the 1962 conflict. There might have been an invisible link between the two ‘birthdays’, but we will possibly never know why the formation of the Tibetan Army was initiated on November 14.
Did BN Mullik, the then Director of the Intelligence Bureau or DIB (and one of the main culprits of the 1962 fiasco) want to please Nehru on his birthday by telling him that he ‘had found a solution’ to China’s military superiority? The Tibetans would themselves ‘liberate’ Tibet!
Mullik immediately realised he would need outside help for his project; he obviously looked towards the United States.
On November 19, the day Nehru sent two panicky letters to the US President asking for help for India,  a crucial meeting to respond to Nehru’s requests was held in the White House. The then Secretary of Defence Robert McNamara, the Secretary of State Dean Rusk, as well as his Assistant for Far Eastern Affairs, Averell Harriman, a respected diplomat and politician, were present. The CIA bosses were also in attendance.
The declassified US archives  tell us: “McNamara urged that the first move be to find out what the real situation was. If we were to put our prestige and resources at risk, we must find out the score. He proposed sending a small high-level military mission immediately to Delhi. …McNamara again urged getting a high level mission out to Delhi, including State and Intelligence people in order to concert a plan of action with the Indians.”
This is what happened.

The American Version
Kenneth Conboy and James Morrison in their book The CIA’s Secret War in Tibet  recounted: “Also mentioned (during the meeting) was the possibility of using the CIA’s Tibetan guerrillas. John McCone, a wealthy and opinionated Republican chosen by Kennedy to replace CIA Director Dulles after the Bay of Pigs, was on hand to brief the President on such covert matters. Joining McCone was Des FitzGerald, the [CIA’s] Far East chief.”
McNamara’s delegation arrived in India three days later; during their stay, the CIA officials held lengthy discussions with BN Mullik. According to Conboy, who quoted from David Blee, the CIA station chief in India: “The Indians were interested in the Tibet program because of its intelligence collection value …Mullik was particularly interested in paramilitary operations.” The DIB and his deputy ML Hooja  made a special request during a session with FitzGerald and Blee. “They made us promise that our involvement would remain secret forever.”
By the end of the Harriman mission, the CIA and IB had agreed to a division of tasks; the IB with CIA support would train a 5,000-strong tactical guerrilla force; the CIA’s Far East Division would create a strategic long-range resistance movement inside Tibet and the Tibetan freedom fighters in Mustang  would remain under the CIA’s control.
The honeymoon with the CIA did not last long and the Tibetan Force would eventually be built with purely Indian inputs under the supervision of Maj Gen Sujan Singh Uban .
Kenneth Conboy and James Morrison have written a romanticized version of these events; reading their account, it is as if it was the CIA which was entirely running the show. They explained that it was Krishna Menon  and Lt Gen BM Kaul  who decided “to create a guerrilla force that could strike deep behind Chinese lines. Because the Chinese were coming from Tibet, members of that ethnic group were the logical guerrillas of choice. Finding volunteers would not be a problem; both knew that there was no shortage of Tibetans on Indian soil, and virtually all were vehemently anti-Chinese and would not hesitate to take up arms for their own patriotic reasons.”
Putting the CIA always on the center stage, the US Spy agency wondered who could lead such a force: “They needed a senior Indian officer who could win the confidence of the Tibetans, embracing their independent nature and promoting a semblance of discipline without resort to a rigid army code. And he would need to have a bent (of mind) for the unconventional-something that was in short supply in the Indian military.”
The CIA ‘historians’ wrote: “As they scoured the roster of available officers, one name caught their eye. Brigadier Sujan Singh Uban, until recently the commander of the 22 Field Regiment in Kashmir, was in New Delhi after having just processed his retirement papers;” by their version, the CIA could pick up any officer in the Indian Army, for a particular job.
The authors argued that Uban had spent much time with mountain units and was familiar with fighting at high altitudes. Furthermore, during a stint as an artillery instructor for jungle warfare units, he had earned the nickname ‘Mad Sikh’, “this small detail was enough for Menon and Kaul” to summon the brigadier.
According to the US writers, on 26 October, 1962, Uban was given sketchy details of the proposed behind-the-lines guerrilla mission : “Working with the Tibetans would not be easy, warned Kaul. Disciplining them, he said, would be like taming wild tigers. As a sweetener, the brigadier was promised a second star in due course. Uban was hooked; he grabbed the assignment without hesitation.”
Later an emissary was sent from the Intelligence Bureau to Darjeeling to fetch the Dalai Lama's brother, Gyalo Thondup: “After years of attempting to court the Indians - who were often sympathetic but never committal - Gyalo relished the moment as he sat in front of a select group of senior intelligence and military officials in the capital.”
Thondup Gyalo told the meeting that he needed 5,000 volunteers.
The following exchange is ludicrous: “Would Gyalo prefer that the Intelligence Bureau or the Ministry of Defense be involved?”
"Not Defense," he would have said.
The story continued “The very next day , Prime Minister Nehru made an unequivocal request for US military assistance. For the tired, beaten leader, it was a humbling overture. It was an admission not only that his central belief in peaceful coexistence with the PRC was irrevocably shattered but also that his cordial relationship with the Soviet Union had proved hollow.”
This is when, according to Conboy and Morrison, the US President called the meeting already mentioned; it decided to increase US military assistance to India; also mentioned was the possibility of using the CIA's Tibetan guerrillas: “By meeting's end, it was decided that Harriman would lead a high-powered delegation to New Delhi to more fully assess India's needs. General Paul Adams, chief of the US Strike Command, was to head the military component. From the CIA, Des FitzGerald won a seat on the mission, as did the head of the Tibet Task Force, Ken Knaus.”
According to the US version: “without pause, Ambassador Galbraith ushered Harriman into the first of four meetings with Nehru. The end results of these discussions were plans for a major three-phase military aid package encompassing material support, help with domestic defense production, and possible assistance with air defenses.”
During their visit to Delhi, the CIA representatives held sessions with BN Mullik: “Both the CIA and the Intelligence Bureau were quick to seize the opportunity.” They came up with some schemes to counter China and despite the opposition from several quarters in the US Administration, on December 13, the Kennedy administration approved some training assistance to Uban's tactical guerrilla force.

A First Meeting

Ratuk Ngawang, one of the commanders  of the Tibetan force, consecrated one chapter of his memoirs  to the first days of the SFF, we shall quote from his book in Tibetan. He recalled: “One day, His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s brother Gyalo Thondup had asked Andruk Zasak  Gonpo Tashi  to visit him at his residence in Darjeeling.” Ratuk accompanied him: “In one of his messages, Gyalo Thondup mentioned that we should not believe that the military base in Lo Manthang  has strong foundation.”
Thondup explained that in a place where there were plenty of bamboos, the leaves which fall from the bamboo will move upwards when the wind blows upwards and downwards if the wind blows downwards: “there is no guarantee which side the leaves will go. His conclusion was that it was better to establish a large military academy in India.”
He then asked Gonpo Tashi’s opinion, the latter told Thondup that it would be an important military initiative which could make the Tibetan people more powerful.
When Gyalo Thondup asked the Khampa leader about his recruitment plans, Gompo Tashi said that a thousand or two thousand soldiers would not be of much benefit and that the objective should be to have as many soldiers as possible. The Dalai Lama’s brother answered that he would go ahead and speak with the IB (Intelligence Bureau) people to check if there was any possibility of finding support. Thondup told Gonpo Tashi that strict confidentiality should be maintained about the meeting.
It was suggested to go ahead and coordinate with Indian authorities; there would not be an issue with the recruitment from the Tibetan side. As the meeting ended with a mutual agreement, it was decided to proceed with the project.

Meeting the Chushi Gangdruk
It is then that Adruk  and Ratuk called for a meeting of the Chushi Gangdruk to ask the opinion of the military commanders living in Kalimpong: would the Tibetans be interested to participate and how many were likely to join if a large military training academy was established somewhere in India.
Jagoe Namgyal Dorjee and Sadu Lobsang Nyandak, two Khampa leaders agreed; they had no objection to establish a military training institution; they readily supported the idea.
It was decided to divide the Chushi Gangdruk leaders and depute them to go across India to the different Tibetans settlements to collect the names of perspective soldiers: “Every participant agreed to this suggestion and started electing their representatives”.
Ratuk Ngawang, Dhargon Taso Choezoe and Amdo Kathok were selected to collect the lists of possible recruits. Gonpo Tashi told Ratuk to first go to Dharamsala to seek an audience with the Dalai Lama and update the Tibetan leader about of the new situation. During the next few days, this was done: “We informed His Holiness about our travel plans to cover Dalhousie, Chamba area, Kullu, Upper and lower Shimla, Janakpur, Jalirung  and Mussoorie to find candidates to start the new Tibetan military establishment. …His Holiness the Dalai Lama advised us to include names of young men and women from all three regions and not to restrict amongst Chushi Gandruk  and then filter and select those whom you feel are qualified.”
He also said to the three representatives of the Chushi Gangdruk that their work would be smoother and easier, if they travelled with a recommendation letter from Kashag : “We followed His guidelines and approached the Kashag and received an official letter from Palha Dronye Chenmo  and travelled to the above places to collect names,” said Ratuk Ngawang.
When they reached Mussoorie, Gyalo Thondup had already sent a message for Ratuk to Jigme Taring, the Principal of the Tibetan school: “Ratuk Ngawang should immediately proceed to Darjeeling. The work of collecting names should be left in the hands of two remaining members and they should join later.”
Ratuk obeyed and immediately left; when he arrived in Darjeeling, he met Gyalo Thondup and Gonpo Tashi who asked for a report on the places visited so far: “I informed them about our visit to Dharamsala, the audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Kashag’s support letter,” recalled Ratuk, who also brought a first list of volunteers’ names.
Gyalo Thondup was happy with the work done and told the Khampa chieftain that he should go again to the places already visited to recruit soldiers.
Kundeling Thupten Gyaltsen, Kalsang, student of General Yeshi and elder son of Trengdong were to assist him: “You should go to Pathankot and make a phone call to Security Department in Dharamsala and inform them about your arrival and ask Security Commanding Officer to come to Pathankot. He will meet you there, you will discuss with them and you guide them where to start the recruitment.”
The travel and daily allowance of the new recruits were to be paid according to the norms decided by Ratuk’s team: “A small metal box full of hundred-rupee Indian notes, exact amount I don’t recollect, was handed over to me with instruction to keep proper records of income and expenditure,” noted Ratuk.
The officers did as ordered and went to Pathankot; the Commanding Officer of the Dharamsala Security Office was not available, but his deputy, Lobsang Yeshi came to meet them; he was keen to get guidance on how to collect the names of the required soldiers. He was told that there were about 1,000 monks from monasteries working on two separate road construction sites in Chamba Valley, some 800 of them should be able to join the force; then they could get about 400 out of about 600 Chushi Gangdruk’s members living in Dalhousie.
On the Chamba road construction, many got suspicious and two of the leaders went to Dharamsala to meet the Minister of Home, Phalha Donyer Chemo and asked his advice about joining the military force. Phala said that he had no knowledge about the recruitment, but “it is up to individuals, we can’t prevent anyone from joining or push anyone to go against his wish.”
Fearing a misadventure like it had happened to the recruits to Mustang, only 72 volunteers signed up. The recruiters did not go to Dalhousie, but asked some of the leaders to send all the volunteers from Dalhousie to Pathankot. The officer in-charge of the Tibetan Handicraft Center and the settlement officer were told that no instructions had been received from the exiled Tibetan Government and it was an individual’s decision. The recruiters informed those wanting to enroll that they should report to Ratuk Ngawang at Pathankot. Their travel fare and food expenses were to be fully covered: “everyone left saying, we had been waiting for such an opportunity when we can receive military training.” Ultimately, they recruited more than 500 soldiers.
Incidentally, one of the buses had an accident and five or six recruits suffered minor injuries, but there was no loss of life.
Suddenly, the Dalhousie settlement officer informed the Kashag that the handicraft center was empty “because Ratuk Ngawang recruited everyone into military”; he wanted to know what should he do. Kashag insisted that the handicraft center should not be closed. Pathankot’s branch of the Security Department then asked Ratuk to report immediately to Dharamsala.
None of the new recruits were interested to go back to Dalhousie, though Ratuk and his colleagues tried to explain that it was an order from the government that they should return to the handicraft center.
The Security Office in Dharamsala deputed Chamdo Jampa Kalden to Pathankot to tell Ratuk to send at least half of them back to the handicraft center: “We requested and appealed to them, but not a single soul changed their mind. …Finding no resolution, we drafted a letter saying everyone should decide on their own [to join the Army] and Chamdo Jampa Kalden returned to Dharamsala.”
Then, Ratuk send them off after disbursing their travel allowances.
The recruiters then moved to Kullu and Simla area to see if there were volunteers interested to join the force: “in total there were little more than 3,800 volunteers.” Later, they visited Musoorie, Herbertpur, Jalirung , Chhorpur  and gathered some 200 recruits more before returning to Darjeeling to present the accounts of all their expenditures: “When we reached, we were informed of the arrival of about 200 guerilla fighters in Darjeeling and 700 from Kalimpong, Gangtok and Darjeeling area.”
With the other representatives who visited other areas, there were already 6,000 recruits at the military camp. 

The above lines are part of a longer paper, available on my webiste (proper references are provided in the paper). 

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