Tibetan soldier Nyima Tenzin died in land mine blast

Tibetan soldier Nyima Tenzin, 51, Company Leader of the Special Frontier Force of the Indian army, died in a land mine blast while patrolling along the border in Ladakh on 29 August 2020.

Tibetan soldier Nyima Tenzin, 51, Company Leader of the Special Frontier Force of the Indian army, died in a land mine blast while patrolling along the border in Ladakh on 29 August 2020. Special arrangement

Tibet Sun Online News

ON THE WEB, 3 September 2020

It has now been confirmed that the Tibetan soldier Nyima Tenzin, rank of Company Leader in the Special Frontier Force under the Indian Army, died as the result of a land mine blast on the night of 29 August, Tibet Sun has reliably learned.

He died while he and his juniors were patrolling on the eastern side of the Panggong lake in Ladakh, on the edge of India’s disputed border with China.

Tibet Sun had earlier reported, when the news was just trickling in, that Tenzin died from a gunshot to his neck from the Chinese soldiers.

A junior soldier Tenzin Loden, 24, was critically injured in the same explosion, and is currently undergoing treatment at the military hospital in Ladakh.

Both these soldiers belonged to the 7th Battalion of the Special Frontier Force (SFF), aka “Establishment 22”, a unit under the Indian army made up of Tibetans. Indian soldiers call them the “Vikas Battalion”.

On Tuesday, an army convoy brought the body of Nyima Tenzin in a coffin draped with the Indian flag, and later adorned with a Tibetan flag, to his home in the Tibetan settlement of Choglamsar, close to Ladakh’s capital Leh. The injured Tenzin Loden is from the same settlement.

Nyima Tenzin had 33 years’ service in SFF. He left behind his wife and three children. Cremation ceremony will take place on the morning of 7 September.

It has been reported that the SFF soldiers launched a counterattack to repel the Chinese intrusion, and conquered the Black Top Hill that had been occupied by Chinese soldiers. More than 30 soldiers of China’s Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) are said to have been injured in the clash.

The Government of India and the Indian army keep silent regarding the Special Frontier Force, which is a covert specially-trained paramilitary unit based in Chakrata, near Dehra Dun, in a mountainous region in northern India. It was established after the Indo-China war in 1962.

The SFF soldiers have fought winning wars for India starting with the 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh against Pakistan. In 1999 during the Kargil War SFF soldiers captured Tiger Hill from the rival Pakistani soldiers, culminating in victory for India.

Siachen Glacier, the world’s highest battleground, in the Karakoram range at an altitude of 5,753 metres with temperatures of -50 ºC, has SFF soldiers manning the border with Pakistan throughout the year.

The Indian government and the media made no mentions about the Tibetan roles in these wars or reports about the deaths of Tibetan soldiers, or their services in such extreme conditions. The recent clashes against PLA soldiers have received some media attention.

In the past the SFF soldiers had salaries lower than their Indian counterparts. When they retired, they would receive a small lump-sum payment on discharge, instead of pension. Pensions were started after 2009.

However, despite a court order to provide pensions to those who retired before 2009 as well, authorities made discrepancies in the rules. Those who were discharged on medical grounds, widowers of veterans, and those with service of less than 20 years have been discounted from pension schemes. According to the rules, pension is granted to those who have served for 15 years. They are now going from pillar to post to receive pensions like others. Those who retired before 2009 have been given only 45% of what is given to their Indian counterparts.

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