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Col Chewang Rinchen bridge will make his legacy endure: Daughter

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: October 22, 2019  | 17:01 IST

By Kunal Dutt (Eds: PTI Exclusive) Leh-Ladakh, Oct 22 (PTI) Fiercely patriotic, straightforward and a great soldier who loved India is how Phunsog Angmo remembers her father, Col Chewang Rinchen, after whom the country's highest altitude all-weather permanent bridge has been just named. The 1400-ft-long bridge on Shyok River, located strategically about 45 km from India's border with China, was dedicated to the nation on Monday by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in the presence of Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat and the daughter of the late colonel, whose name stands among the only six armed forces personnel to have been awarded the Mahavir Chakra twice. Singh while recalling his legacy said Col Rinchen's courage and valour are a source of inspiration for one and all and this bridge is a tribute to his contributions to the nation. "I am feeling extremely proud that this important bridge has been named after my father, who was a great soldier and a patriot of the highest order, who loved the country and fought for safeguarding it, even before being inducted into the army, 62-year-old Angmo told PTI in an interview. Col Rinchen's granddaughter, Rinchen Dolkar, who also attended the event was thrilled to see the iconic bridge located at 14,650 ft, being christened after her grandfather. "He was kind and socialised with people. He used to pamper me a lot... And my grandfather named me after himself only as he did not like the name suggested by the monk," Dolkar said. Both of them thanked the government and the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) which built the bridge, for the gesture and said this will ensure that the legacy of Col Rinchen will further endure. "My father was patriotic to the core, fiercely patriotic I must say, who instilled in us the love for the nation and Ladakh, and respect for the national flag. In Leh, we have a statue of him at a public roundabout and a park was named after him there after his death in 1997. We are moved by this decision of the government to honour him," said Angmo, who retired as a faculty at a medical college in Jammu. Col Rinchen was born on November 11, 1931 at Sumur village, Nubra Valley in Ladakh region, and is known as the 'Lion of Ladakh' for his extraordinary acts of courage in defending Leh and Partapur sector in face of attacks by adversaries. He participated in wars in 1948 (Indo-Pak), 1962 (India-China) and 1971 (Bangladesh war for liberation), and was awarded the Maha Vir Chakra, the second highest gallantry award in the country twice, besides a Sewa Medal for being part of various operation. "We are grateful to the Army for preserving his old house in Nubra Valley as Col Rinchen's Heritage Abode, which was done recently only, where his uniform, transistor, camera and other paraphernalia are displayed," Angmo said. She said her father was patriotic and had a sense of humour too, and "once as I have heard from my family members, he ran after a person with his pistol, after that person uttered something bad about the country". "He was a straightforward man and did not mince words, and told everything to the face. And, as an army man, of course, he dressed very sharply always and enjoyed non-vegetarian food particularly," she said. Asked any incident associated with her father that she recalled on the occasion, she fondly reminisced about her school days memories at Cambrian Hall in Dehradun, when Col Rinchen showed up in full military regalia. "People saw him, recognised him and then referred to him as 'Angmo's father', which made me realise the importance of his military career and a tremendous sense of pride in being his daughter. And, today, we hope more people will get to know about his story and be inspired," she said. Dolkar, 35, who holds an MBA degree and runs a hotel in Leh, also had a similar rush of excitement during her school days at Welham Girls' School, Dehradun, when Col Rinchen had visited it. "You look at your father or grandfather as just a family member. But, there are occasions which make you realise they are more than that by virtue of their career and calibre, and opening of the bridge was also one such moment, when I remembered him as my grandfather, and as Col Rinchen," she said. Asked, what hobbies he had, Angmo recalled he loved photography and played football, and "my family member tell me, he also painted in his school days". Ladakh MP Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, who was present on the occasion of inauguration, also praised Col Rinchen and called him a "son of the soil" and a "great patriot". PTI KND ZMN

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