For one month and 23 days, Rinchen and his Nunnus heroically defended the Shyok and Nubra valleys using tactics like shooting from different spots or lighting fires on many peaks to trick the enemy into believing that Indian troops were encircling the enemy.
It worked and the raiders believed that they were facing a large contingent of the regular Indian Army.
Rinchen was thus able to stop their advance till the time reinforcements in the form of a Gorkha company could be sent.
In 1984, a book published in Pakistan entitled Baltistan Par Ek Nazar mentioned: `If Commander Chewang Rinchen had not foiled these attacks, we would have overrun the whole of Nubra and then, crossing Khardung-la and occupying the airfield of Leh, we would have been the masters of the entire region of Ladakh.`
It was after this, on August 25, 1948, that Rinchen was enrolled in the Indian Army as a Jemadar. He was not yet 18.
In November, 1948, he began to advance along the Shyok river toward Baltistan. Using unconventional tactics, he repelled the marauders supported by Pakistan.
He captured peak after peak (such as Lama House, Tebedo and Takkar Hills), village after village (Skuru, Biagdangdo), hardly using his own ammunition.
Instead, he used hand grenades and bayonets to attack the enemy, often collecting not only rifles and bullets from the fleeing Pakistani troops, but also the food necessary to sustain his Nunnus.
On January 1, 1949, a ceasefire was ordered by the Indian Government. `It came like a bombshell. Given a few days, the raiders could have been thrown out of the entire Baltistan,` it was noted.
Rinchen had, however, earned his first MVC, which he received in September 1952 from Sheikh Abdullah, the then Prime Minister of Kashmir.
Picture courtesy: Chewang Rinchen`s family (Any unauthorised reproduction is prohibited)