Not far from the Rezang La-Rechin La ridgeline that has emerged as a key friction point between Indian and Chinese troops, the Chushul brigade headquarters mess still houses artefacts including a gold statue of the Laughing Buddha seized by the Sikh regiments more than a century ago.
The soldiers were part of an eight-nation mission to neutralise China’s Boxer Rebellion at the turn of the last century, an uprising led by young farmers and workers against foreign influence. The British Army had brought in Sikh and Punjab regiments among others.
The alliance troops moved into Beijing after the Boxer fighters threatened foreigners and kept 400 foreigners holed up in Beijing’s Foreign Legation Quarter. The siege lasted 55 days before 20,000 alliance troops reached Beijing and fought their way in. Nearly 8,000 of them belonged to the British Army from India, many of them Sikh and Punjab regiments.
After the victory, according to an account by one Indian sepoy, the British army indulged in looting: French and Russian troops killed civilians and raped women.