Tuesday, September 03, 2013

The fate of Squadron Leader Vinod Sehgal (R.I.P.1962) now resolved

62-VKSehgal.jpg (6767 bytes)

Squadron Leader Vinod Sehgal is the only Indian Air Force casualty of the 1962 war. He is believed killed and there has always been some mystery about his actual fate. especially as photograph of his helicopter had surfaced that showed it intact and being examined by the Chinese. The photo is reproduced in Air Marshal Bharat Kumars book on the 62 war. (and in the below post)

It was believed  that Sqn Ldr Sehgal and his passenger Major Ram Singh were either killed on landing or were taken POW and later killed.

Even the 62 war book ("Unknown and Unsung") remains ambiguous about what actually happened. 

The answer may have been right under our noses.    This document http://www.scribd.com/doc/3190762/Artillery-Support-to-7-infantry-Brigade- is a first person account by then 2nd Lt A S Behl (later Brigadier).  This was published in 2008 and linked from the Report My Signal Blog  (http://reportmysignal.blogspot.com/2008/06/indo-china-war-tsangdhar-20-oct-1962.html )

He writes

"We saw a helicopter approaching the helipad. By that time small arm fire had also started from the black rock area and shelling was also going on.There was no sign of the helicopter taking-off again. I sent a patrol of two men to see what had happened. They came back and told me that that the helicopter was there, and two persons; one pilot and another person in a redturban were lying dead near the helicopter. Next day, when we buried them as prisoners of war (POWs) I could identify one as Sqn Ldr Sehgal and theother as Maj Ram Singh of Signals."

And there it is - an account by an Indian Army Officer as to what the actual fate of Sqn Ldr Sehgal is. I cannot recollect if Tsangdhar is actually in Indian territory or not, but perhaps an effort can be made to commemorate the graves .

Reproduced below is the photograph and the original caption speculating about the fate

BZ543.jpg (112622 bytes)
ABOVE: In this rare screen capture from a Chinese News Film, Sqn Ldr Vinod Sehgal's helicopter is shown at the Tsangdhar Helipad in Chinese Hands. The close up shot shows the serial as BZ-543. Sqn Ldr Sehgal (right) was presumably killed after he made the landing. The Helicopter was not returned by the Chinese after the war.