Gorkha rifles completes two centuries of glory and service - The Fearless Indian
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Gorkha rifles completes two centuries of glory and service

  • Mrinalini Singh
  • November 9, 2017
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India’s first Field Marshal Sam ‘Bahadur’ Manekshaw, himself a Gorkha Rifles officer, once remarked: “If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or is a Gorkha.This is considered one best compliment the Gorkha regiment of the Indian Army for their bravery. The spine-chilling war-cry by soldiers, brandishing deadly inwardly-curving Khukris, is usually enough to scare the wits out of most adversaries on battlefields.

From full-blown wars to the frozen frontier of Siachen, from counter-insurgency operations to the long-unresolved borders with China and Pakistan, the Indian Army’s Gorkha Rifles have deservedly earned their reputation as fearless large-hearted warriors, with a distinct fondness for a tot or two of “Rakshi” (dark rum) and living life for the moment.

In the backdrop of the Gorkha Rifles having completed over 200 years of soldiering in India, the 9th GR is now culminating its bicentenary celebrations with a grand reunion and function at the 3&9 Gorkha Training Centre in Varanasi on Thursday and Friday. Contrary to popular belief that the British East India Company was the first to recruit Gorkhas as soldiers, Army officers contend it was, in fact, Maharaja Ranjit Singh who raised a battalion of Gorkhas to serve in the Sikh Army around 1809 – 1814.

There are about 32,000 Nepalese Gorkhas currently serving in the Indian Army’s seven GRs or regiments (1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 8th, 9th and 11th), each of which has five to six battalions (around 800 soldiers each). The 2nd, 6th, 7th and 10th regiments, in turn, went to the British Army after Independence in 1947, which have now been amalgamated into only one Gorkha regiment. Though the Indian Army has a strength of almost 12 lakh, with 23 equally illustrious infantry regiments, the Gorkhas stand apart with their distinctively-tilted hats, khukris and never-say-die spirit.

One of the most famous platoon of Gorkhas, 1/11 Gorkha Rifles is one of the most decorated with 11 vir Chakras, 2 Maha Vir Chakras, 3 Ashok Chakras and 1 Param Vir Chakra. The stories of its Param Vir Chakra winner Lt. Manoj Kumar Pandey are a case study in their glorious history of courageous war footings.

We salute these brave men of the Gorkhas for their courage and sacrifice, may they bring more glory to our nation!

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