BHOPAL: India and China should fight the coronavirus together instead of its troops killing each other at the line of actual control. This is not the view of a peacenik, a Sinologist or much less an Indophile. These are the words of Raj Bahadur aka Wang Qi, a former Chinese PLA soldier who entered India in 1963, months after the 1962 India-China war, and has lived in India since then.
"What can I say, I am a small man. Both countries are run by masters who know what’s good for their national interest," said 80-year-old Wang, who now lives in Tirodi, a small hamlet in the Balaghat district of Madhya Pradesh.
Stressing that both India and China were close to his heart, Wang told this newspaper from Tirodi: "Don’t fight each other, the real killer is the novel coronavirus, which has killed thousands and lakhs across the world."
Just 22 years old in 1963, Wang accidentally strayed into Arunachal Pradesh. That is officially. But the less charitable version is that the Chinese army sent him on a spying mission to India. In the months after the war, tension and suspicion were still high between the two nations and the military build-up on both sides was huge.
Wang was caught and the Red Cross handed him over to Indian security forces. He subsequently spent nearly seven years in different jails of Rajasthan, Punjab and UP, before being released on a court order in March 1969. He was ordered to be rehabilitated in Madhya Pradesh, which brought him to Balaghat district.
In Tirodi, the owner of a flour mill where he got employment christened him Raj Bahadur for his "Nepali-like looks".
Years later he married a local girl, Sushila Mohite, who died in October 2017. They have three children, two daughters and a son, besides grandchildren, all of whom are Indian nationals.Wang appealed to India and China to set aside their differences and pool in their scientific resources to build a weapon to tame the coronavirus.
"War and conflict never does any good, it will only destroy families. Both India and China along with other countries need to save human lives," he says. In February 2017, Wang returned to China for the first time to be reunited with his Chinese siblings after 54 years.
Ex-Chinese army soldier at home in India, bats for peace
He has returned to India several times since then. The last time he got an Indian visa to visit his family in Tirodi was in September 2019, which was valid for six months till March 2020.But India went into lockdown on March 25, with a ban on international travel, forcing Wang into an extended India visit.
Vishnu Wang, his son, said they had informed the authorities in New Delhi and Beijing about his father’s inability to return to China because of the lockdown. He said that the India-China faceoff along the LAC had heightened tension between the two nations but no one in Tirodi had created any trouble. "My papa is enjoying life with his grand children."