By now, the raiders from across the border were planning their attack on Leh.
They could reach Leh through three different routes. The most unguarded was the one via the Shyok river and Rinchen`s village.
The 17-year-old Jemadar immediately left Leh with his men, and after a 10-day walk, which involved crossing the treacherous Khardung-la, the volunteers reached the banks of the Shyok river.
Once there, the Nunnus, (as the jawans recruited in Nubra Valley were to be known) were put under the command of Rinchen`s trainer Subedar Bhim Chand. Soon after reaching their destination, they began repelling the intruders.
The marauders, though, continued to threaten Leh even after the Dakota of Air Commodore Mehar Singh (a daredevil Air Force Officer) became the first plane to land in Leh on a makeshift airfield on 24 May 1948.
General Thimayya, then a Major General commanding the Kashmir sector, was with Mehar Singh in the cockpit. The duo had demonstrated that it was possible to open an air bridge and bring reinforcements into the Buddhist kingdom.
Despite Mehar Singh`s achievement, Leh was far from secure.
By the end of June, there were only 20 regular jawans and 150 militiamen operating under Bhim Chand in Shyok valley. One day, all the forces were ordered to return to Leh to protect the Ladakhi capital. As for the Nubra Guard, they had to be disbanded and their arms and ammunitions withdrawn.
The young Rinchen did not accept the Headquarters` order and rushed to Leh to meet Prithi Chand. He told the Captain with breezy assurance: `Sir, there is no question of surrendering myself or my weapons to the enemy. My fighting spirit will never die.`
Chand was convinced. He gave him 28 rifles and a sten-gun and sent Rinchen back to Nubra.
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