[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19] [20] [21] [22] [23] [24] [25] [26] [27] [28] [29] [30] [31] [32] [33] [34] [35] [36] [37] [38] [39] [40] [41] [42] [43]

who was there with him, chose who would go left and who went right. Rex Kharbanda and his half of the men went 1000 yards down the left path and found themselves in Bhutan. Unknown to them this was the exact spot of the tri-junction of China, Bhutan and India! Al 000 yards down the right path and my father ran into 1000 Chinese soldiers. He was taken into custody. He was officially a POW of the Chinese PLA. That's fate!! Captivity was not easy. For a gregarious human being, solitary confinement was hell. He became reticent and brooded deeply for hours on end. He hovered perilously close to becoming depressed. Then there was that terrible feeling that, perhaps, he could have done more to prevail on his Div. Cdr and, above all, Gen Kaul, to save his troops, from certain annihilation. He spent his time playing table tennis, cards and chess with his captors. The regular PLA soldiers were like those of any other peasant army: simple and semi- literate. It was the hard core commissars who attempted the 'mind breaking' bit. I used to pester him to tell me. He spent his time reading simple books provided to him. The Chinese are not English speaking. They had no library of English books. After weeks they got him a pen and some reams of paper. He would write down the names of all the books he'd read; all the movies he'd seen; all the actors and actresses he could think of. Each week the commissar would come, take the notes from the guards and tear them up. The whole process would start again! The food was atrocious and cooked by his guards. It was far from nutritious. It was simple vegetarian fare. Potato was the staple, served twice a day. They gave him an egg on two occasions. They gave him a chicken to eat on Christmas night, 1962. This was part of their pathetic propaganda! He promptly shared it with his guards. His hair was cut once a month. He was shaved every day, by a barber. They did not trust him with blades. One event worth relating was that, around the end of April, 1963, all Indian paws were moved to Peking. It was the first time, since October of the previous year that he met his officers. My father guessed, rightly so, that the Chinese would attempt to display them as part of the May Day parade, on May 1 on the streets of Peking, in complete contravention of the Geneva Convention and all norms governing the treatment of prisoners. Who knows, maybe in shackles, to portray Indian soldiers in poor light. He put his foot down, and with the aid of the UN officials, the idea was dropped. Language was a problem. Eventually, he got his way. They watched the parade from the side-lines! ! Eventual repatriation took place in 1963. The family was provided accommodation in Defence Colony. Male servants and even a maid appeared miraculously. My father always suspected they were intelligence operatives. Whenever we went out we were followed. Those operatives were horribly inept. We had fun suddenly stopping to window shop in Connaught Place. These bozos would almost bump into us. Father was terribly cut up. He was "under suspicion"!! The final . . ignommy. If memory serves me, he and his officers were repatriated by the Red Cross from a military airstrip in the Chinese city of Kunming. Apparently the plane ferrying them had to circle Dum Dum airport for some time to bum fuel. The undercarriage refused to come down! After all they had been through - to die in an air crash. But, all ended well and they landed safely. Then on to Ranchi by train to be "debriefed". The train journey was a travesty. In a characteristic display Rose Bowl January 2014107

Previous Page                                                       Page 7                                                           Next Page