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Death of Tibetan Commando Offers Insight Into Little-Known Elite Indian Force

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The violent demise of a Tibetan commando soldier who belonged to an Indian particular forces unit close to the China-India border has supplied the general public with uncommon perception into the operations of a little-known elite power. 

Tibetan soldier Nyima Tenzin, 53, an organization chief within the Special Frontier Force (SFF) underneath the Indian military, died in a land mine blast in late August, close to the location of border tensions with Chinese troops. Another junior soldier was critically injured in the identical explosion. 

Few particulars are publicly identified in regards to the covert power that was arrange quickly after a struggle between India and China in 1962. The Indian authorities hasn’t revealed any official depend of the dimensions of the power, though some specialists estimate its energy at round 5,000 to 10,000 males. 

FILE – A relative locations khadaks, a white piece of silk fabric, over the pyre of Nyima Tenzin, a senior Tibetan official from India’s Special Frontier Force, throughout his cremation ceremony in Leh, Sept. 7, 2020.

Tibetan historian Jianglin Li stated the Special Frontier Force consists principally of Tibetans, who had been born and raised in excessive plateau local weather. 

“For India, an important lesson from the 1962 war with China is to find the right soldiers. At that time, a considerable number of the Indian soldiers were Sikhs, most of whom came from the plains. They didn’t perform well in high-altitude areas,” she advised VOA. 

According to Li, the Indian authorities then realized troopers with particular bodily attributes and health had been wanted for any potential battle on the Sino-Indian border, a excessive plateau space. 

The authorities led by Jawaharlal Nehru subsequently fashioned a particular power, recruiting principally Tibetans in exile, who fled to India in 1959 with the 14th Dalai Lama after the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) invaded Tibet. These Tibetans have lived at excessive altitudes for generations; for them, strolling on excessive land 5,000 meters above the ocean stage is like strolling on the bottom, specialists say. 

FILE – Indian troopers stroll on the foothills of a mountain vary close to Leh, the joint capital of the union territory of Ladakh, June 25, 2020.

Considered an elite power within the India military, the SFF takes its orders immediately from the Indian prime minister. It relies in Chakrata, almost 700 kilometers from Ladakh, a key friction level within the present India-China border battle. 

US coaching

Tenzin Tsundue, a Tibetan author and activist in Dharamshala, advised VOA that the power was skilled by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) within the 1960s. 

“At that time, the main purpose of the group was to fight the PLA across the border,” he stated. The Tibetan troops obtained weapons and tools in addition to coaching from the CIA, he stated. 

The U.S. authorities pulled the CIA out of the coaching program following then-Republican President Richard M. Nixon’s go to to China in 1972. Yet the SFF saved receiving coaching from the Indian military to arrange for any potential battle within the area. Over the years, the Indian authorities has deployed the SFF in numerous navy operations. 

SFF troopers have efficiently waged wars for India beginning with the 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh towards Pakistan. During the Kargil War in 1999, SFF troopers captured Tiger Hill from the rival Pakistani troopers, resulting in India’s victory. 

The Reuters information company quoted Amitabh Mathur, a former Indian authorities adviser on Tibetan affairs, as saying he wasn’t stunned the Indian authorities determined to deploy the SFF troops this time, as they had been “crack troops, especially in the context of mountain climbing and high-altitude warfare.” 

‘Ultimate dream of Tibetan troopers’

Within the Tibetan neighborhood, grieving has begun over Nyima’s demise. His coffin has been draped with Indian and Tibetan flags in a refugee colony in Choglamsar, a village in India’s Ladakh area. According to Tsundue, lots of the troopers mourning the lack of Nyima merely need to return to their distant Himalayan homeland. 

FILE – Indian troopers pay their respects in the course of the funeral of their comrade, Tibetan-origin India’s particular forces soldier Nyima Tenzin, in Leh on Sept. 7, 2020.

“With the current border conflict, they might have a chance to fight against China and drive Chinese troops out of Tibet,” he defined. “This is the last word dream of Tibetan troopers. They hope to battle the Chinese and play an essential function within the battle for Tibet’s independence.” 

VOA reached out to the Tibetan Government in Exile for feedback. Karma Choeying, spokesperson for the Central Tibetan Administration, stated the administration “does not comment on this matter.” 

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying on Wednesday stated she didn’t know whether or not Tibetans had been combating for India, however urged warning. 

“We are firmly opposed to any country, including India, supporting the secession activities of Tibetan pro-independence forces or providing them with any assistance or physical space,” she stated. 

This story originated in VOA’s Mandarin service.

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