Wednesday, 2 September 2020

Special Frontier Force takes its first casualties in Ladakh intrusions

Fur-hatted Khampa fighters who fought the Chinese invasion of Tibet in the 1950s, and from whom the SFF takes its tradition

 

By Ajai Shukla

Business Standard, 2nd Sept 20

 

At 7 a.m. on Tuesday, a small army convoy rolled into the Tibetan settlement of Choglamsar, adjoining Leh, the capital of Ladakh. Inside a truck, draped in the Indian tricolor, lay the coffin of Company Leader Nyima Tenzin of the Special Frontier Force (SFF), an elite paratroop unit manned by volunteers from the 120,000-strong Tibetan refugee community in India. 

 

An army officer handed over Tenzin’s body to his wife and three children, telling them that the circumstances of his death had to remain secret and to turn away inquiring presspersons.

 

A Tibetan nationalist at heart, with his loyalty to the traditional Snow Lion flag, Nyima Tenzin completed his last journey wrapped in the tricolor by a grateful nation, which he had served for 33 years and for which he laid down his life on the towering heights above the Pangong Lake.

 

The army also delivered news of the grievous wounding of 24-year-old Tenzin Londhen in the same operation. Both these soldiers were from 7 VIKAS, one of the seven SFF battalions – almost a division worth of Special Forces – that have been moved to Ladakh and deployed against the Chinese. 

 

Details of the operation in which Tenzin died remain secret but it is learned to have resulted in Chinese casualties.

 

The SFF was raised in November 1962 in the aftermath of India’s crushing defeat by China. 

 

Codenamed “Establishment 22”, it initially consisted of a ragtag bunch of “guerrilla companies” tasked to operate behind Chinese lines. Issued US weapons and trained by American instructors, most recruits were fresh from Tibet and couldn’t speak Hindi or English. Interpreters were needed to interface with them.

 

Today’s SFF is recruited from Tibetan refugee communities dotted all around the country. Many speak Kannada and Oriya better than Tibetan. “The tsampa eaters have become dosa-eaters,” says an old-timer regretfully, referring to the traditional Tibetan cereal.

 

What has not changed about these superb highland troops is their ability to function normally at altitudes that drain plainsmen. As the SFF’s role evolved, it was decided they would be infiltrated in wartime into Tibet, or para-dropped deep inside that territory. There, they would operate in small groups, disrupting and sabotaging People’s Liberation Army (PLA) columns. They would live off the land, dependent for food, shelter and security on a restive Tibetan populace that remains intensely hostile to the Chinese.

 

Initially, the Indian Army strongly resisted this new force. Facing severe criticism in 1963 and eager to prove his force’s worth, the SFF chief sent 120 Tibetan soldiers for an army field exercise, codenamed Garuda. This proved to be a dramatic success for the SFF.

 

In the 1971 Bangladesh war, the SFF further distinguished itself with its soldiers winning 580 cash awards (they were not eligible for gallantry awards). Almost 250 SFF soldiers were casualties in that conflict.

 

Yet, till the 1980s, the SFF’s salaries, perks and ration scales remained below those of the army. Instead of pensions, SFF soldiers got a lump-sum payment on discharge. Today, the SFF is paid and equipped on par with the army.

 

“The committing of the SFF into operations in Ladakh is a signal from New Delhi of how seriously it takes the Chinese intrusions and the lengths India will go to in combating them,” says a senior diplomat and China expert.

97 comments:

Unknown said...

RIP Brave heart 🙏

Jimmy Singh said...

Brave Tibetans! Well done!

Abir Choudhury, veteran, Indian Army said...

The true soldiers who waited a long time for their acceptance into the Indian colours. They are born fighters with the true grit that gets tested to the extreme in cold and barren heights of laddakh. They are certainly more than a match for average mainland Han Chinese.
India and its diverse population and adopted ones too ,like these gentle souls from Tibet, have a unique character due to the remarkable diversity. This feature makes us very special.
My deep reverence for the fallen Hero and my heartfelt condolences to the family. They have the proud privilege of saying "our man made the sacrifice for the cause which is closest to our hearts "

Jai hind.

MAHENDRA said...

Dear Ajai,

Why there is no open information of this SFF force !

I think they are a good war fighting unit on Himalaya regions and rightly deployed by the Indian Army(after learning hard lesson recently) at appropriate locations.

Unknown said...

Sir we have to shunt the enemy out at any cost and we should honour these vikas battalion warriors publicly on the same line as in case of galwan martyrs

Abhishek said...

Mr Shukla, qualification of sensitive information and keeping it out of public domain should not be such a great talent in journalism. Laying out everything to public would address no good agenda...some things must be best left out as secrets...sad and disappointing to see already crass journalism moving beyond abyss...

Unknown said...

For years it's heard intrusion on & off used to happened but never stopped, but now the enemy is in real mood of expansion, so no way we can remain silent. We should give them a taste of our valour and make them realise that it's not a cold pan anymore and will get baked even before they even think about such a venture. Any we all Indians salute you the valour Soilders of SFF...our brave hearts....!

Unknown said...

GOI should honour them, compensate and give them recognition in a manner commensurate with the nature of assignments entrusted and results.

Anonymous said...

ARE WE PULLING AT THE DRAGONS TAIL, DO NOT SEND THE ARMED DALAI LAMA SOLDIERS INTO TIBET
THESE ARE LIKE THE MUKTI BHAINI SENT INTO E PAKISTAN
THIS WILL PROVOKE AND ANGER THE TOP ECHELONS OF POWER IN THE CPC
THIS IS THE MOST PROVOCATIVE THING INDIA CAN DO
ARE WE MAD

aBu said...

Mr Ajay Shukla, What has changed from 1962 based manpower intensive infantry movements till today, when we are still adopting the same technique of using a secretive guerilla force operational in the mercenary mode, something same happened in Bangladesh war, or Syria or even French resistance. Although we being a big budget army with several talks & seminars on UAV technology, are we only distributing pensions and starving infantry men. Why the regular infantry , artillery units are unable to contain? Why we need a group of bad guys like CIA to run the show ? Are we fearing that using Brahmos will take the conflict to much higher lever we we inherently fear? What was all such huppola about 5 Rafales coming to India? Has any fighter jet ( sic : imported) anywhere in the world symbolized national prestige? Mr.Shukla i seriously doubt that army is able to exhert pressure on Chinese

Unknown said...

God bless the wonderful Tibetan people, and these superb soldiers...
I pray Tibet attains freedom and liberty from the Chinese oppressors at the earliest.

Anonymous said...


Amazing.

Whenever the Indians are in troubles. They pull the rabbits out of their hats.
Like now after facing crushing defeats by the hands of Chinese Force, out come the Gene of Tibetan out of Indians bag of tricks.

After watching deceitful lies of Indians regarding recent confrontations, it is very clear to any intelligent and independent person that Indians create false narratives and then propagate those false narratives.

To take their practices to extreme , they then take those narratives as proven history.

Unknown said...

Thanks for knowledge full article.

Unknown said...

This man has some agenda, I thought he works for congress but now feels he is into spying or what.

Unknown said...

Right men for d job.
You train soldiers for certain topography / weather conditions OR recruited natural dwellers.
Great strategy Great job
Jai hind

anil212 said...

My huge respects to the martyr who laid down his life for adopted country. Hats off. RIP my friend

Siddharth Mehta said...

The thing that are to be known about SFF (VIKASis aka Establishement 22),are available on internet. Their sole purpose is to work behind enemy lines and kick their arse.

Unknown said...

RIP the brave ...

Unknown said...

Hope it was not the pinjars iknew years before.These men are very silent and generous.Hope media and govt away from media gaze.

Anonymous said...

Why do you think the officer who handed over the body asked the family to turn away the press??

This piece could have waited. I hope the military men Ajai wins over the temptations of cosy clubs.

Unknown said...

Shukla is a failure

Akhil said...

Because it is an organisation meant to stay secret..

Anonymous said...

US (between Russia and US in Syria) and India (between China and India) are very much alike by declaring themselves as the victims during encounters with adversaries, in fact they are, in almost all cases, the aggressors.

ulti khopdi said...

Absolutely agree with Abhishek... And col shukla being an ex armyman should know this...

Akhil said...

MrSMr, ... The title could have been a wee bit better.... Like SFF draws first blood in Tibet.... But the pessimism and negative title is actually. Be happy that your former organization is proving itself in battlefield, rather than sulk in a flood of pessimism.

Anonymous said...

This is remarkable reporting. Very monumental news and all consequences and second order consequences should be discussed. The SFF unit manned by Tibetans is not an Indian Army unit but a Tibetan insurgent group reporting to the Research and Analysis Wing. Was this done to signal that India would funnel Tibetan insurgents to China? Do you think this will mean China will provide arms to insurgents in Nagaland and Manipur in retaliation? What are further risks? Do Naxalite groups have good relations with the insurgents in Nagaland and Manipur? Could the small arms end up in Naxalite hands too?

Prem said...

These are the boys of HH Dalai Lama.I have seen them deployed on tougher snowy heights elsewhere too in Laddakh region.Vikas boys there, I saw running like giraffes over the frozen mountains while merely dressed in trouser & vests whereas other troops well dressed in heavy woolens could barely walk.

They are a unique asset with our Army.Need to be selectively deployed & looked after.

I m delighted to read that now they are at par with regular soldier for pay perks & rations too.

We have very specific role & guidelines for their deployment which need not be publicised for general public for reasons of national security & their own wellbeing too.

Dr.Sujit Chanda Chaudhury. said...

The soldiers referred are the brave hearts at par with our other army men...they have to come out enmasse against enemies ☝️👍

Col NR Kurup said...

SFF is a Top Secret Organisation. Everything about it is classified. I was with them from 3 years including their deployment during 1971

Shining India said...

Not to take away the bravery from the brave hearts but Ajay you yourself mention that SFF is a secret unit and then you are publicly putting it in your blog, what type of journalism is this or do you want to prove that you are one notch above the others and this goes for all those who have spread this message of SFF

Unknown said...

Mr Shukla Indian Army kept this secret for 60 yrs and one operation by SFF has given an opportunity to people like you to show off ur knowledge. Not good for nation.

CitizenSoldier said...

True. That's what Mr Ajay Shukla specialises in. SFF is kept under wraps for a reason, and the likes of Ajay know it well but never give a damn.

Jai Hind.

Unknown said...

I agree with you Sir. SFF is covert arm of RAW . We should leave some arms to powers that be.

Unknown said...

Absolutely true Abhishek ji Ajai shukla is an army man He should never have put this report in public domain and that too in such detail.

Unknown said...

May god bless them all I know them well because I am ladakh.... We will take revange....

HelicopterVision said...

Do you want everything in India to be an open book so that the enemy can get easy access to vital information?

HelicopterVision said...

Yes. They must get all facilities, privileges and benefits like any other Indian soldier. If we can do that for the gurkha soldiers from Nepal in our Army why not these soldiers?

Unknown said...

Salute to Vikas battalion warriors

Daya Krishen Koul said...

They should since have been raised as Tibatian Liberation Force after the Chinese invasion of 1962 & migration of Tibetians to india.This again has been a consistent weak Nehru congression foreign policy even followed by successive rulers.Indians ar stil in 1962 chineese syndrome.we have to come out ofit.We ar lions but unable fathom our strength

Silent night said...

Its popular journalism at work...its not in the true spirit..its one upmenship.

Unknown said...

Logical move by the Govt at right time. We are a peace loving nation but best fighters in the world must not bow to the pressure tactics of the enemy.

Unknown said...

Salute to our Heroes.A soldier never dies.

Unknown said...

The present day Tibetan soldiers fighting for the motherland are sons and daughters of Bharatma;they are INDIA born of Tibetan parentage, therefore they are entitled to the same treatment given to regular soldiers,they mustbe honoured and given the same media coverage given to the Galwan martyrs. The government of the day must have the political will to officially acknowledge the existence of 22 as a special fighting force in the service of the nation. That said,my deepest condolences to the family and friends of the martyr,and may his soul rest in eternal peace. Om Mane Padme Hungtri!

Skarma Photography said...

Thanks for keeping the the reason how it happened secret. That guy was one of my relative. :)

Unknown said...

Well-timed operation by the Army top brass which was well executed by the SFF forces. Their valour & grit is in no way lesser than the Braves of the Bihar regiment, who fought & died fighting for their nation on June 15.Salute to both , the Bihar regiment & the SFF personnel for their selfless & supreme sacrifice.We should acknowledge & honour the SFF, just as much as we did the Bihar regiment, Retd.Colonel Shukla.Good of you to write about the SFF whose contribution would otherwise have gone unnoticed by the Indian public. Keep it up!

Anonymous said...

I totally agree, it’s really sad and disappointing that once he being in the forces himself ,is not keeping it’s sanctity. Such vivid description of secret forces in public domain is highly condemned .

Mihir Pandey said...

Salute to the Brave-hearted Himalayan fighter.
Jai Hind. Jai Tibet.
Long live Indo-Tibetan brotherhoo. 🙏♥

Parag Pareekh said...

Brave Tibetans should be relied on in combating treacherous Chinese and overcoming a fraud traitor govt in delhi.

Pasupathy said...

They should raise another 23 BN worth of these forces and equip them on par with RR BN and put them under command of the Mountain Strike Corps. They should be trained on para gliding, para sailing, hang gliding, high altitude high opening para drops , demolition etc.

Anonymous said...

These one lakh Tibetans should be relocated in the cold hilly areas instead of putting them in dusty hot plains . Heat and dust is unbearable to these gentle high altitude living people , though some are born in the hot plains ,

Unknown said...

We are in debt of Special Frontier forces,

Unknown said...

God bless the departed soul.Mr Shukla
For certain whys silence is as essential as certain details of your personal informations.
The dedication of people of Ladhak was
very obvious during KARGIL OPS also.

T said...

Why didn't you mention the fact that we've captured 45 PLA troops and killed 2 of them as well? Why did you only speak about the causalties on our side? Are you teting to be naive? Or are you just not good in your research? Moron !!

Unknown said...

Tributes to Nyima Tenzen ji

Jai Hind

Unknown said...

Jaijawan Jai Hind Solute Brave Jawans SFF 💪

pradeep said...

RIP great warrior you will always be in memory of us all, we sould fight nail to tooth for every inch of our soil be it soldiers or us civilians we have to throw out china from our economy n borders too.

Devendra Basnet said...

Secret may be the operations of the SSF. Not this existance.

Indian soldier said...

Salute to this brave hearts and the leaders who establish this force it will prove effectively in future india and china wars jai hind and salute to the brave heart who lied down his life for our beloved country india

Abir Choudhury, veteran, Indian Army said...

Unlike earlier, this information is in in public domain and in the open newspaper. I don't know if it is part of a new policy.
No point blaming Ajay.

Abir Choudhury, veteran, Indian Army said...

It seems you have some personal score with this blogger. Why must there be an agenda here ? It sounds more like getting after him just because you have to !!!

Unknown said...

Our nation will remain indebted to these soldiers , who anonymously serve for our sake .
I bow to their family and pray for this grt soul .

Unknown said...

Rip

krish said...

This author has no sense Of balance about what to report and what not. It’s sad that despite the fact he had the privilege and honour to don the Indian army uniform once, he behaves like a n irresponsible greenhorn journalist trying to show off his ‘little’ knowledge.

Unknown said...

RIP respected brave heart.

Rao said...

Mr Shukla, your Business Standard article dt 01 Sep stated that the PLA had occupied Black Top and Helmet Top posts on the Indian side of the LAC. On the other hand, Chinese sources are saying that the Indian forces have transgressed the LAC and occupied these posts on the Chinese side of the LAC. Please clarify the real position.

Unknown said...

RIP ... Brave Heart Tibetan

Unknown said...

Jai hind

Dr. Nitin patil. said...

RIP. We are proud of you. Your sacrifice for the nation and our combined cause will not go in vain.. May God give family members strength to bear this irreparable loss..

GPS said...

Shukla ji aur koi secret force ya koi strategic force ki information hai to vo bhi dushmano ko disclose kardo

GN Shukla said...

In your blog dated Sep 1 you have stated that black top is under the occupation of Chinese forces, but News Channels like Aaj Tak have reported that the Chinese attempt to occupy black top has been foiled by Indian troops and that currently it is under Indian occupation. What is the truth?

Anonymous said...

अमर शहीद को शत शत नमन

Unknown said...

I will only say Jai Hind

Unknown said...

What will you do? Any plans to join SFF? :)

Joe said...

God bless you dearest of dear you fought for our motherland we are deeply indebted to you.God in his great mercy grant liberation of Tibet from the cruel hands of the Chinese whom we loathe.
You have fought like a lion Given Victory to our forces.
We salute your commitment your bravery and victory.
Rest in peace dear friend.
Tibet will be free soon.

Unknown said...

China is a power.indian only bash little countries

Unknown said...

Some secrets should remain secret. We don't know when few midia people vl understand this

venkat said...

In 1989 l happen to visit a Tiebetian settlement in Mahendra giri in Orissa.They were a nice bunch of industrious people ... weaving wool carpet... Those carpets were sent to Europe through an agency that's what I understood from the conversation l had with them.Now my thought goes to them how heavy a heart they would be having thinking about their mother land...I bought a 6 by 3 carpet during my visit only 2 day back l brought it down from the loft .

Unknown said...

Om shanti brave man.
News about SFF should be kept secret from our TRP rated media houses.We should not divulge any news about army as it will jeopardise security.

Anonymous said...

They were initially supposed be a very hush hush organisation, directly under the control of RAW. The secrecy surrounding them has somewhat been compromised. But their dedication and valor to fight against the Chinese is still the same as in the early days. Hope to soon see a day when they will hoist the Tibetian Flag in Lhasa, in an independent Tibet!

Unknown said...

Why Indian army using Tibetean ? Can Indian not defend their homeland. Why PM of India is unable to defend its borders? Making false statement that nothing happened.

Democratic Guard Kamal said...

Salute to the Martyr. It's necessary sometimes for people to know the truth and charge themselves to support the braves. Now people will surely throw away Chinese products, no respect for Chinese, remove all China names and come together to motivate, partner our Army to kick off enemy. China was never trustable. Modi gave full chance to Xi for friendship. He proved a backstabber. Though found Chinese people hardworking, creative, but PLA has different agenda.

Unknown said...

Parts of India are with Pakistan and China but all the students are taught that these areas are within India. Let's be truthful enough that many people lost their lives due to our poor decision and I am sure this brave heart would have taken a few from the other side with him. Indians, Hindus have lost many battles due to absence of unity. Allow our soldiers to express themselves at their will and honestly you will see the high morale of our soldiers that even the best of the Pakistani or Chinese will shiver. Weapon doesn't make someone powerful, tactics make someone conquer many things. RIP.. Jai Jawan Jai Kishaan..

Colonel VeerChauhan said...

Informative, though. You could hold your horses ‘ Ajai.
Stretched!: aren’t we under employing the SFF!!

Unknown said...

PLA is keep killing indian seenaks, what indian army doing in return?

Unknown said...

अदम्य साहस और बलिदान।

Unknown said...

अदम्य साहस और बलिदान।

Rajesh said...

RIP Niyma Tenzin and un-named Vikas Soldier. Valour is always streaming in their blood.

Unknown said...

Salute for your Bravery. Nation is proud of you.

ashok said...

TIME NOW TO INCREASE THE STRENGTH OF THE SFF TO 24 BATTALLIONS OF WHICH 6 SHOULD BE SPECIALL FORCES . TAKE AMERICAN HELP TO EQUIP THEM TO AMERICAN STANDARDS OF MOUNTIAN INFANTRY GUREILL WARFARE AND GET IT TRAINED EQUIPPED BY CIA MONEY . IT MUST HAVE ITS OWN STEALTH CHOPPERS , C-130S AND THE LATEST SMALL ARMS .IN CASE OF WAR THEY MUST BE LAUNCHED TO BREAK THE SUPPLY LINES ROADS RAIL BRIDGES AND DESTROY CHINESE OIL FUEL , ARMS AMMUNITION DUMPS AND FOOD SUPPLIES , CAPTURE TERRITORY AND HOLD TILL RELIEVED BY NORMAL ARMY TROOPS .

Hello said...

They r who defend Indian borders in toughest conditions throughout the year and lost many lives through the years, but kept secret about what they have done.

Hello said...

Yes, Indian army may have kept this for so long, but time has ripped enough to give them some recognitions. They fought From in 62, kargil , Bangladesh And list goes on, but they never gave them even equal pay and benifits. You go to 22 vekas, you will find hundreds of Tibetan armies names in burial site. You send them on toughest terrains to defend India not given even slightest recognition is not fair as compare to rest.

SAMIR SARDANA said...

This is 2020 ! dindooohindoo

This is not the time of Ranjit Singh who used foreign mercenaries in his army

Or the Nandas who had EU and Persian Mercenaries in their army

A pitiable nation like Hindoosthan uses Nepali and Tibetan midgets in their army to fight the PLA Mongols !

What must be the pathetic state of the Hindoo Martial Ethos ?

These midgets are origined from failed states and are a race of toilet cleaners ,pimps and sons of harlots – it is in their history !

These are the signs of the destruction of a nation like Hindoosthan ! Tibetans are fit to sell beads and garments in Indian Shit holes and pimp their women and drugs – which is their only core competence

The Indians sent the Tibetan midgets to fiht the PLA MOngols abd were blown up by IEDs.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-india-china-tibet/tibetan-soldiers-death-near-tense-india-china-border-sheds-light-on-covert-unit-idUSKBN25T2JN

Monkeys live on trees ! Similarly a donkey is good at climbing mountains – but is not a fighter ! A donkey cannot smell a IED ! A Dog can !

Now you can’t send a mountain donkey to fight the Mongols on the Border where the Chinese Kings destroyed the Hindoos 2000 years ago and also the Sikh General Zorawar Singh 200 years ago.The Chinese Beheaded Zora Singh and
then 20 years ago,they destroyed the fortress built by Zorawar Singh

So Y did the Indians send the hapless Tibetans to take on the PLA ?

Did the Indians not know that the land was mined with IEDs and APM ? In a barren and desolate region – with no camoulflage – is it possible that the Indians did not know the proximate locations of the APM ?

The Indians sent the Tibetans do their death ! And now they will raise the Tibetan issue around it and the PLA JUST DO NOT CARE !

WHICH IS Y THE CHINESE MOFA SAYS THAT “NO INDIAN SOLDIER” KILLED IN LATEST CONFLICT

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/china-says-no-indian-soldier-killed-in-recent-ladakh

The PLA meant that they killed vermin !

Anonymous said...

Hope to soon see a day when Tibetian will hoist the Tibetian Flag in Lhasa, in an independent Tibet!

Kiran Baliyan said...

In warfare, all sorts if weapons and strategies are ysed- over and covert. They have their merits on their own. Every country does that- mist powerful do it mire, usa, Chiba...etc. certain things regular forces can't. But they are equally, ir more so, entitled to their privacy and reward.

Kiran Baliyan said...

Fully agree and as a citizen, don't approve if this.

Sanjay Gadhalay.sgc enterprises. said...

Undercover agent are you ? Get lost

Sanjay Gadhalay.sgc enterprises. said...

Under cover agent are you. Stop drivelling ..