When Indian, Chinese troops fought as one



Beijing: On a trail to discover the footprints of Indian troops in China in the last two centuries, a senior military official from India has stumbled upon many instances when Indian Sepoys fought along with Chinese against foreign invasion.

The presence of Indian troops in China under Portuguese and British had a fascinating history which was well catalogued and preserved in Chinese museums, Col G Jaishankar, Defence Attache of the Indian Embassy said while making a presentation on 'Indian Troops In China' at the Indian Cultural Centre here yesterday.

In his research, the first by an Indian official about presence of Indian troops in China, Col Jaishankar found out how the Indian and Chinese troops fought together to stave off Japanese invasion of Hong Kong, contrary to the tense stand off that followed after the 1962 India-China war.

The attack by Japan took place on December 8, 1941, a day after Pearl Harbour bombing in second world war. Scores died from the Sikh and Rajput regiments while defending Hong Kong, he said.

The Commonwealth War Grave Commission has identified 585 Indian troops who perished in the battle.

In his voluntary research, Col Jaishankar came across a host of interesting details about how the Indian Sikh regiment came to the rescue of officials of 11 countries who were surrounded in Peking, (then Beijing) during 1898 Boxer uprising.

Few Indians and Defence Attaches of different embassies here were invited for his presentation. Indian Ambassador to Beijing S Jaishankar also attended the event.

Col Jaishankar found that the contrary to the depiction of the event in 1963 Hollywood movie featuring Eva Gardner depicting the seize of Beijing in which the Sikh regiment arrives on their cavalry, the Indian troops came through the imperial sewage canal to rescue the whole lot of foreigners.

Boxer revolt was staged by Chinese to rid of foreign influence.

Another finding was about the presence of hundreds of Sikh policemen who were brought to Shanghai in 1850 to beef up the security.

Col Jaishankar managed to trace several portraits depicting burly Sikh policemen patrolling the city at that time.

The Indian defence attache, during his travels in China tracked the history about the presence of a variety of Indian regiments including, Sikh, Rajput, Madras Sappers and Bengal Lancers, in the country.

Yet another relic of the Raj was the Yunnan Rupee floated by Yunnan province, Capital of Kunming city close to Myanmar, which had extensive trade relations with India.

The Yunnan Rupee was traded along with the British Rupee at that time, Col Jaishankar said.

He also recalled how the Indian Army has returned to China a golden bell of from the Ming dynasty era looted during the British period from the Temple of Heaven in Beijing.

It was returned by Gen B C Joshi of the Indian Army during his visit to China in July 1994.

The Indian Defence Attache was full of praise for Chinese museums for preserving a lot of information relating to presence of Indian troops under the British rule of the subcontinent.

PTI