SFF soldier Nyima Tenzin cremated with full military honour

Indian Army officials pay tribute to Special Frontier Force soldier Nyima Tenzin during a wreath-laying ceremony in Devachan, Leh, on 7 September 2020.

Indian Army officials pay tribute to Special Frontier Force soldier Nyima Tenzin during a wreath-laying ceremony in Devachan, Leh, on 7 September 2020. PTI

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LEH, India, 7 September 2020

In a huge gesture towards Tibet, people of Leh came together and paid tribute to a Tibetan jawan who died recently along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Special Frontier Force (SFF) company leader Nyima Tenzin lost his life on 31 August when he stepped on a landmine laid in 1962 in Gurung Hill in Chushul.

Hours after the Indian Army issued the press statement about his death, the Tibetan community in Ladakh came together to pay tribute to the soldier of the ‘7 Vikas’ battalion. Tenzin’s body was driven to his house in the Sonamling Tibetan Refugee settlement in Leh, Ladakh, escorted by an SFF truck.

BJP leader Ram Madhav also paid tribute to the late soldier. “Attended the funeral of SFF Coy Ldr Nyima Tenzin, a Tibetan who laid down his life protecting our borders in Ladakh, and laid a wreath as a tribute,” Madhav tweeted.

The tragic demise of the Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) points at the fact that India has deployed its secret Tibetan paramilitary force along the LAC with China, for the first time in recent years.

Reportedly, the deployment of SFF troopers in Ladakh began after Chinese incursions in May this year. The Army pulled out the special forces units to hack trails and set up posts along hilltops and ridgelines to observe positions of the Chinese military.

Earlier on 2 September, when asked about the SFF, Chinese ministry of foreign affairs spokesperson Hua Chunying said, “China’s position is very clear. We oppose any country, and of course, that includes India, which provides any facilitation or venue to forces advocating Tibetan independence.”

What is Special Frontier Force?

The SFF is an enigmatic paramilitary unit manned by ethnic Tibetans and has Vikas battalions number from one to seven. It operated under a covert organisation called the Directorate General of Security (DGS).

Both the DGS and SFF were set up in 1962 in the closing stages of the border war with China to fight a guerrilla war inside the Tibetan Autonomous Region.

The special force comes under the direct administrative control of the cabinet secretariat and the PMO, and fights alongside the Indian Army in the toughest terrains.

The SFF draws its volunteer recruits from a 150,000-strong ethnic Tibetan diaspora, settled mostly in India. Officered by the Indian Army, it has six battalions with nearly 5,000 troopers. Curiously, accounts of its creation are anecdotal as no official records have been published.

If reports are to be believed, then the special force has played a key role in stopping Pakistani forces at Chittagong during the Bangladesh war of 1971, Operation Bluestar in 1984, in securing the Siachen glacier in 1984 and the Kargil war against Pakistan in 1999.

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