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Tibetan SFF soldier killed on India-China border told family: ‘we are finally fighting our enemy’

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Tibetan SFF soldier killed on India-China border told family: ‘we are finally fighting our enemy’
  • Tenzin Nyima saw fighting China as the apex of more than 30 years’ service with the Special Frontier Forces, and knew he might die, his family says
  • ‘Every Tibetan wants to fight China, because that fight is not just for India, it is also for our own land, our identities’, says his brother
Kunal Purohit
Kunal Purohit

Published: 9:00am, 24 Sep, 2020



Indian soldiers pay their respects during the funeral of Nyima Tenzin in Leh. Photo: AFP


Indian soldiers pay their respects during the funeral of Nyima Tenzin in Leh. Photo: AFP
When Tenzin Nyima was growing up in
India’s
western Himalayan region of Ladakh, his parents, worried about his strongheaded ways, sought out a local oracle for guidance. The sage told the family, who had fled to India from
Tibet
in 1966 several years after a failed uprising against Beijing, to stop fretting.
Nyima was destined to be a “brave soul”, he said. Indeed, in 1987, Nyima, just 18, went to an army base in Leh, the capital of Ladakh, asking to be recruited into a secretive Indian paramilitary unit with Tibetan soldiers, known as the Special Frontier Forces.
On August 30 this year, Nyima’s mother Dawa Palzom, 76, was reminded of the oracle’s words when she got off the phone with Nyima.
The 51-year-old, a company leader in the SFF, had made a surprise call to her at her home in Choglamsar, a town in Leh, from a forward position along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) – the loosely defined line separating Indian-controlled territory from Chinese-controlled territory.
Tenzin Nyima. Photo: Dawa Dolma

Tenzin Nyima. Photo: Dawa Dolma
Nyima’s older brother, 54-year-old Tenzin Nyawo, said Nyima sounded “tense”. This was not surprising given Nyima and his company were stationed in mountain passes less than 200km away, where Indian troops were locked in a bitter and tense stand-off with Chinese troops at various points along their 3,488km undemarcated border, bringing political ties between the nuclear-armed neighbours to their lowest point in decades.


A deadly clash in June, in which soldiers engaged in hand-to-hand combat that left at least
20 Indian men and an unspecified number of Chinese soldiers dead
, had led to both sides ramping up troop, vehicle and armament reinforcements despite numerous rounds of military and diplomatic talks to ease tensions.

Nyawo recalls his brother telling their mother that “the situation at the LAC was tricky”.
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“He said anything could happen,” he said in a video call on Tuesday.

Nyima wanted to talk to his three children, the youngest only 5, and his wife, but he could not reach them. “He ended the call by saying, ‘Please pray for us’,” Nyawo recalled.
Explainer | India-China border: is peace really on the horizon?
14 Sep 2020
1600921043130.png

Palzom and Nyawo did so, but the prayers were not answered. Nyima was killed a few hours later when a landmine exploded while he was patrolling in
Chushul
, on the southern bank of the Pangong Tso glacial lake, where India and China have accused each other of changing the “status quo” over the LAC. Another soldier from the SFF, Tenzin Loden, was injured.

It later emerged that the night before Nyima’s call, Chinese soldiers had clashed with Indian soldiers in Chushul, as the Indians attempted to capture a string of strategic high-altitude areas.
“We later learnt that the SFF had played a crucial role in capturing these heights. Shortly after he called us, Nyima went patrolling to ensure that the heights were impenetrable when the mine exploded,” said Nyawo.

While tensions at the border remained high – even resulting in warning shots being fired for the first time in four decades earlier this month – both sides have taken steps to stabilise the situation. On Tuesday, military commanders agreed to stop sending troops to the front lines.
Tenzin Nwayo. Photo: Dawa Dolma

Tenzin Nwayo. Photo: Dawa Dolma
OUT OF THE SHADOWS
The SFF was formed midway through the 1962 war between India and China, with the initial aim of carrying out counter-insurgency operations.

Its formation prompted a roaring response from Tibetan refugees in India. John Jones, the campaigns and advocacy manager at Free Tibet, a London-based not-for-profit group that campaigns on issues of Tibetan freedom, said that such enthusiasm was common among the Tibetan community in India.
“Tibetans who serve in the unit can see it as a chance to get their country back or show gratitude towards India by defending the country that took them in,” he said.

New Delhi has always remained tight-lipped about its existence, employing it in various operations such as the 1971 and 1999 wars with Pakistan, but never officially commenting on it.
India-China clash: what is the mysterious Special Frontier Force?
4 Sep 2020
1600921043209.png

Hence, Nyima’s death was not officially announced – the Indian defence ministry’s statement on the clash, which said the Indian troops had “pre-empted” Chinese troops who “carried out provocative military movements,” did not mention it. But one of Prime Minister
Narendra Modi
’s top aides, the national general secretary of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, Ram Madhav, paid respects at Nyima’s funeral, laying a wreath on his coffin at a ceremony that awarded him full military honours.

Analysts said this was a clear sign to Beijing that India was not ruling out playing the “Tibet card”, by using the Tibetan diaspora in India as a diplomatic foil against rising Chinese assertiveness.
This would be a red line for Beijing, which has made clear it will go to great lengths to quell separatism, anywhere from
Xinjiang
to
Hong Kong
to
Taiwan
.
As photos of Nyima’s coffin, wrapped in the Indian tricolour flag and the snow lion flag adopted by the Tibetan refugee diaspora, began circulating online, India’s Tibetan community, thought to number about 85,000 as of 2018 and spread in settlements across the country, hit the streets, holding rallies to support the SFF and Indian military personnel. Cars and motorcycles flooded Leh’s streets, all of them headed to Nyima’s funeral. The Lieutenant Governor of Ladakh RK Mathur has vowed to donate 500,000 rupees (US$6,800) to Nyima’s family.
For Nyima’s family, including his three children and wife, the crowds, the adulation and the attention was unimaginable. Nyima’s parents left Tibet in 1966, among the thousands who followed in the footsteps of the community’s spiritual leader the
Dalai Lama
who had sought refuge in India seven years earlier.

India to open world’s longest high-altitude tunnel strategically located near disputed China border
India to open world’s longest high-altitude tunnel strategically located near disputed China border


01:38
India to open world’s longest high-altitude tunnel strategically located near disputed China border

India to open world’s longest high-altitude tunnel strategically located near disputed China border
Nyawo said his parents recounted the “oppression” and “propaganda” by Chinese authorities. Like others who crossed dangerous, hostile terrain to be in India, Nyima’s parents walked across high, rocky mountainous ranges and passes for two nights, before they reached Changthang, in Ladakh.
Having traditionally lived a nomadic existence, Nyima’s parents made Changthang, a pasture in southeast Ladakh, their home and lived there for more than two decades before they came to Choglamsar, one of more than 45 “settlements” – special colonies for Tibetan refugees – constructed by the Central Tibetan Authority (CTA), the Tibetan government-in-exile and Indian authorities.
Through it all, their existence, like thousands of other Tibetan refugees, was firmly in the shadows.
As refugees, Tibetans are not entitled to government jobs, neither are they allowed to own land or property in India, unless they opt for Indian citizenship. Without Indian citizenship, even private sector jobs can be hard to come by and travelling across borders on “identity certificates”, issued by the Indian government, rather than passports, can be tedious. These could have contributed to the community’s dwindling existence, with the 2018 government estimate showing the population of ethnic Tibetans had almost halved from 150,000 in 2011.
Nyima’s family said he wanted to break out of the cycle of impoverishment that had marked the lives of others in the community and so at the age of 18, he asked to sign up with the SFF.
His family had no clue. Looking back, Nyawo said, “He knew that the family could not afford his studies for much longer. He had hoped that a job with the SFF would help him to make a decent living.”
Tenzin Nyima. Photo: Dawa Dolma

Tenzin Nyima. Photo: Dawa Dolma
Nyima went on to spend more than 30 years in the SFF and was even part of the Indian effort against Pakistan in 1999, when the two countries fought in a two-month war in Kashmir’s Kargil district. But for nearly all of that time what he sought most eluded him.
“The SFF was never posted against China, our real enemy. The Indian government consciously did not post them along the India-China border,” said Nyawo.
In July, during Nyima’s last home visit, that position finally changed. He was being sent to the forward areas along the border and was barely able to conceal his excitement.
“He told me, Nyawo, this is not the same as it was. This is not Kargil or
Bangladesh
, we are finally fighting our enemy,” Nyawo recalled, referring to the two India-Pakistan wars the SFF fought, in 1999 and 1971.
India-China border: Tibetans at Pangong Tso race to help
10 Sep 2020
1600921043366.png

Nwayo said the excitement was natural. “Every Tibetan wants to fight China, because that fight is not just for India, it is also for our own land. It is also for our identities, that were snatched away from us.”
Nyima understood that the fight, this time, would be unlike any other, said Nwayo. “At 51, he was not as fit but he was raring to go. He said this fight was very important and that he might not return home alive.”
For Nwayo, the loss of his brother has been hard, more so because Nyima was to retire next March. “He was so excited about finally getting time to spend with his family, after 33 years of staying away.”
But like thousands of those who mourned Nyima’s death, Nwayo knows the family’s loss has brought a larger gain for the community. For years, the SFF and the Tibetan community’s contribution was unknown to the world, he said.
“In his death, he changed all that.”

 

beijingwalker

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Those rabbles will face well trained and well equipped PLA Tibetan warriors, who's gonna win?

 

Figaro

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The only problem is almost all of the Tibetan warriors stayed in China and were later absorbed into the PLA. Only a very small portion of the Tibetan fighters actually crossed over into India.
Yes, pathetic.. SFF突击队的连长尼玛·丹津(Nyima Tenzin)(藏族)在巡逻时,踩到1962年埋下的一枚老式地雷丧命,另一士兵受伤。还是印军当年自己埋的地理 。
You should translate what you are saying in English.
 

jaybird

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Yes, pathetic.. SFF突击队的连长尼玛·丹津(Nyima Tenzin)(藏族)在巡逻时,踩到1962年埋下的一枚老式地雷丧命,另一士兵受伤。还是印军当年自己埋的地理 。
He didn't died fighting China. he was killed by Indian's own landmine. Now that's back stabbing...

The company commander of the SFF Commando Nyima Tenzin (Ethnic Tibetan) was killed when he stepped
on an old landmine planted in 1962 by the Indians while patrolling. Another solider was also injured.
 

lcloo

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Tibetans fighting on Indian side are descendants of the ex-slave masters/land owners and their soldiers who flee into India , while some descendants of the ex-slaves Tibetans are joining PLA.

Guess what the children of the ex-slaves will do to their ex-masters.
 

I S I

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2001 standoff with Pakistan all over again. but this time it's China. good going India. why even bother with land mines. just lay down all your insaas guns in place of mines.
 

bahadur

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Tibetan SFF soldier killed on India-China border told family: ‘we are finally fighting our enemy’
  • Tenzin Nyima saw fighting China as the apex of more than 30 years’ service with the Special Frontier Forces, and knew he might die, his family says
  • ‘Every Tibetan wants to fight China, because that fight is not just for India, it is also for our own land, our identities’, says his brother
Kunal Purohit
Kunal Purohit

Published: 9:00am, 24 Sep, 2020



Indian soldiers pay their respects during the funeral of Nyima Tenzin in Leh. Photo: AFP


Indian soldiers pay their respects during the funeral of Nyima Tenzin in Leh. Photo: AFP
When Tenzin Nyima was growing up in
India’s
western Himalayan region of Ladakh, his parents, worried about his strongheaded ways, sought out a local oracle for guidance. The sage told the family, who had fled to India from
Tibet
in 1966 several years after a failed uprising against Beijing, to stop fretting.
Nyima was destined to be a “brave soul”, he said. Indeed, in 1987, Nyima, just 18, went to an army base in Leh, the capital of Ladakh, asking to be recruited into a secretive Indian paramilitary unit with Tibetan soldiers, known as the Special Frontier Forces.
On August 30 this year, Nyima’s mother Dawa Palzom, 76, was reminded of the oracle’s words when she got off the phone with Nyima.
The 51-year-old, a company leader in the SFF, had made a surprise call to her at her home in Choglamsar, a town in Leh, from a forward position along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) – the loosely defined line separating Indian-controlled territory from Chinese-controlled territory.
Tenzin Nyima. Photo: Dawa Dolma

Tenzin Nyima. Photo: Dawa Dolma
Nyima’s older brother, 54-year-old Tenzin Nyawo, said Nyima sounded “tense”. This was not surprising given Nyima and his company were stationed in mountain passes less than 200km away, where Indian troops were locked in a bitter and tense stand-off with Chinese troops at various points along their 3,488km undemarcated border, bringing political ties between the nuclear-armed neighbours to their lowest point in decades.


A deadly clash in June, in which soldiers engaged in hand-to-hand combat that left at least
20 Indian men and an unspecified number of Chinese soldiers dead
, had led to both sides ramping up troop, vehicle and armament reinforcements despite numerous rounds of military and diplomatic talks to ease tensions.

Nyawo recalls his brother telling their mother that “the situation at the LAC was tricky”.
AS IT HAPPENS
Coronavirus Update
By submitting, you consent to receiving marketing emails from SCMP. If you don't want these, tick here



By registering, you agree to our T&C and Privacy Policy
“He said anything could happen,” he said in a video call on Tuesday.

Nyima wanted to talk to his three children, the youngest only 5, and his wife, but he could not reach them. “He ended the call by saying, ‘Please pray for us’,” Nyawo recalled.
Explainer | India-China border: is peace really on the horizon?
14 Sep 2020
View attachment 672641

Palzom and Nyawo did so, but the prayers were not answered. Nyima was killed a few hours later when a landmine exploded while he was patrolling in
Chushul
, on the southern bank of the Pangong Tso glacial lake, where India and China have accused each other of changing the “status quo” over the LAC. Another soldier from the SFF, Tenzin Loden, was injured.

It later emerged that the night before Nyima’s call, Chinese soldiers had clashed with Indian soldiers in Chushul, as the Indians attempted to capture a string of strategic high-altitude areas.
“We later learnt that the SFF had played a crucial role in capturing these heights. Shortly after he called us, Nyima went patrolling to ensure that the heights were impenetrable when the mine exploded,” said Nyawo.

While tensions at the border remained high – even resulting in warning shots being fired for the first time in four decades earlier this month – both sides have taken steps to stabilise the situation. On Tuesday, military commanders agreed to stop sending troops to the front lines.
Tenzin Nwayo. Photo: Dawa Dolma

Tenzin Nwayo. Photo: Dawa Dolma
OUT OF THE SHADOWS
The SFF was formed midway through the 1962 war between India and China, with the initial aim of carrying out counter-insurgency operations.

Its formation prompted a roaring response from Tibetan refugees in India. John Jones, the campaigns and advocacy manager at Free Tibet, a London-based not-for-profit group that campaigns on issues of Tibetan freedom, said that such enthusiasm was common among the Tibetan community in India.
“Tibetans who serve in the unit can see it as a chance to get their country back or show gratitude towards India by defending the country that took them in,” he said.

New Delhi has always remained tight-lipped about its existence, employing it in various operations such as the 1971 and 1999 wars with Pakistan, but never officially commenting on it.
India-China clash: what is the mysterious Special Frontier Force?
4 Sep 2020
View attachment 672639

Hence, Nyima’s death was not officially announced – the Indian defence ministry’s statement on the clash, which said the Indian troops had “pre-empted” Chinese troops who “carried out provocative military movements,” did not mention it. But one of Prime Minister
Narendra Modi
’s top aides, the national general secretary of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, Ram Madhav, paid respects at Nyima’s funeral, laying a wreath on his coffin at a ceremony that awarded him full military honours.

Analysts said this was a clear sign to Beijing that India was not ruling out playing the “Tibet card”, by using the Tibetan diaspora in India as a diplomatic foil against rising Chinese assertiveness.
This would be a red line for Beijing, which has made clear it will go to great lengths to quell separatism, anywhere from
Xinjiang
to
Hong Kong
to
Taiwan
.
As photos of Nyima’s coffin, wrapped in the Indian tricolour flag and the snow lion flag adopted by the Tibetan refugee diaspora, began circulating online, India’s Tibetan community, thought to number about 85,000 as of 2018 and spread in settlements across the country, hit the streets, holding rallies to support the SFF and Indian military personnel. Cars and motorcycles flooded Leh’s streets, all of them headed to Nyima’s funeral. The Lieutenant Governor of Ladakh RK Mathur has vowed to donate 500,000 rupees (US$6,800) to Nyima’s family.
For Nyima’s family, including his three children and wife, the crowds, the adulation and the attention was unimaginable. Nyima’s parents left Tibet in 1966, among the thousands who followed in the footsteps of the community’s spiritual leader the
Dalai Lama
who had sought refuge in India seven years earlier.

India to open world’s longest high-altitude tunnel strategically located near disputed China border
India to open world’s longest high-altitude tunnel strategically located near disputed China border


01:38
India to open world’s longest high-altitude tunnel strategically located near disputed China border

India to open world’s longest high-altitude tunnel strategically located near disputed China border
Nyawo said his parents recounted the “oppression” and “propaganda” by Chinese authorities. Like others who crossed dangerous, hostile terrain to be in India, Nyima’s parents walked across high, rocky mountainous ranges and passes for two nights, before they reached Changthang, in Ladakh.
Having traditionally lived a nomadic existence, Nyima’s parents made Changthang, a pasture in southeast Ladakh, their home and lived there for more than two decades before they came to Choglamsar, one of more than 45 “settlements” – special colonies for Tibetan refugees – constructed by the Central Tibetan Authority (CTA), the Tibetan government-in-exile and Indian authorities.
Through it all, their existence, like thousands of other Tibetan refugees, was firmly in the shadows.
As refugees, Tibetans are not entitled to government jobs, neither are they allowed to own land or property in India, unless they opt for Indian citizenship. Without Indian citizenship, even private sector jobs can be hard to come by and travelling across borders on “identity certificates”, issued by the Indian government, rather than passports, can be tedious. These could have contributed to the community’s dwindling existence, with the 2018 government estimate showing the population of ethnic Tibetans had almost halved from 150,000 in 2011.
Nyima’s family said he wanted to break out of the cycle of impoverishment that had marked the lives of others in the community and so at the age of 18, he asked to sign up with the SFF.
His family had no clue. Looking back, Nyawo said, “He knew that the family could not afford his studies for much longer. He had hoped that a job with the SFF would help him to make a decent living.”
View attachment 672642
Tenzin Nyima. Photo: Dawa Dolma
Nyima went on to spend more than 30 years in the SFF and was even part of the Indian effort against Pakistan in 1999, when the two countries fought in a two-month war in Kashmir’s Kargil district. But for nearly all of that time what he sought most eluded him.
“The SFF was never posted against China, our real enemy. The Indian government consciously did not post them along the India-China border,” said Nyawo.
In July, during Nyima’s last home visit, that position finally changed. He was being sent to the forward areas along the border and was barely able to conceal his excitement.
“He told me, Nyawo, this is not the same as it was. This is not Kargil or
Bangladesh
, we are finally fighting our enemy,” Nyawo recalled, referring to the two India-Pakistan wars the SFF fought, in 1999 and 1971.
India-China border: Tibetans at Pangong Tso race to help
10 Sep 2020
View attachment 672640

Nwayo said the excitement was natural. “Every Tibetan wants to fight China, because that fight is not just for India, it is also for our own land. It is also for our identities, that were snatched away from us.”
Nyima understood that the fight, this time, would be unlike any other, said Nwayo. “At 51, he was not as fit but he was raring to go. He said this fight was very important and that he might not return home alive.”
For Nwayo, the loss of his brother has been hard, more so because Nyima was to retire next March. “He was so excited about finally getting time to spend with his family, after 33 years of staying away.”
But like thousands of those who mourned Nyima’s death, Nwayo knows the family’s loss has brought a larger gain for the community. For years, the SFF and the Tibetan community’s contribution was unknown to the world, he said.
“In his death, he changed all that.”


now tibbet and uighar land will be freed by india .
 

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