The government has recognized valour of Special Frontier Force (SFF) against the Chinese army in Ladakh for the first time. SFF is a secret unit which comprises of Tibetans living in India.
Tsering Norbu from SFF made it into Mention-in-Despatches category, which is a gallantry recognition for his role in Operation Snow Leopard- the ongoing Indian Army action against China in Eastern Ladakh. He along with 53 others is awarded under the category for Operation Snow Leopard.
SFF was formed on 14 November, 1962 after Indo-China war. It is formed by mainly Tibetan refugees living in India. Its primary goal originally was to conduct covert operations behind Chinese lines if another Sino-Indian War takes place. Since its formation, this unit has helped the armed forces in conducting operations during the 1971 war against Pakistan, the Kargil conflict in 1999 and many other important missions.
During the ongoing conflict with China in Ladakh, SFF has been helpful during many operations against Chinese belligerence. SFF member Subedar Nyima Tenzin lost his life on August 30, 2020 in a land mine blast while he was on an operation on the south bank of Pangong Lake.
The Tibetan community’s Indian Army officers attended his funeral in Leh. The reason why it is important is because it was perhaps the first public acknowledgement of existence of the secret force. Many Tibetans who are settled in India felt proud of this acknowledgement.
Another SFF soldier Tenzin Londen, deployed in Chushul since early June, got injured in the mine blast but recovered later. SFF was not much in public domain till now. An extremely crucial role of SFF in assisting the Indian Army against PLA has made them the talk of the town.
Many awards were distributed on the Republic Day among those performed excellently in Ladakh operations. One Mahavir Chakra, 5 Vir Chakras, 15 Sena Medals and several mention-in-despatches gallantry awards were announced.
There are about 7500 Tibetans residing in Ladakh. Around 1500 of these are either veterans or still working with the army as part of SFF.