“If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or is a Gorkha.” – Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw
With their blood-curdling “Jai Maha Kali, Aayo Gorkhali” or “Aayo Gorkhali Charge”(the famous battle cry) Indian Army’s Gorkha Rifles get charged themselves by this slogan. Indian Army’s much iconic Gorkha regiment has completed over 200 years as a force. Gorkha have assisted India and British-ruled Indian forces earlier.
Once, country’s first Field Marshal Sam ‘Bahadur’ Manekshaw who himself was an officer of Gorkha Rifles said: If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or is a Gorkha.
Now, the Gorkha Rifles have completed its 200 years while serving as a soldier in Indian army. The 9th Gorkha Regiment is now facing the end of two decades of celebrations with a grand reunion and celebration at Varanasi 3 and 9 Gorkha Training Center on Thursdays and Fridays.
Bipin Rawat, the Army chief who himself belongs to the 11th GR is the chief guest of this celebration. Lt-Gen Anil Kumar Bhatt, the director general of Military operation belongs to the 9th GR says on this occasion of pride, “Apart from the earlier battles like ones during World War First and World War Second, the 9th GR has participated in all military operations after 1947 with honor and valour.”
Contrary to popular belief, the British East India Company was the first recruiting the Gurkhas as soldiers in the Indian army. Army officers had argued that in fact, Maharaja Ranjit Singh, in 1809-1814, served in the Gurkhas a battalion.
Colonel stated, “Maharaja Ranjit Singh was impressed by the bravery of these big-hearted little men from the hills. All soldiers serving in the Indian Army are still called ‘Lahorey’ or ‘Lahure’ in Nepal or those who serve in Lahore, which was the capital of Ranjit Singh’s empire.”
The 1st GR was formed in 1815 with ‘Nusserre’ Gorkha Batalia at Subathu in Himachal Pradesh. In 1817, the first battalion of 9th GR, in turn, was raised by the British as ‘Fatehgarh Levy’. At present, there are approximately 32,000 Nepalese Gorkha serving in the seven GR or Regiment (1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 8th, 9th and 11th) of the Indian Army, each of which has five to six battalions (about 800 soldiers each).
As per the officer, “Almost 90% of our soldiers earlier used to hail from Nepal. Now, around 65% come from Nepal, with the rest coming from Darjeeling, Dehradun, Dharamshala and other places.” After Independence in 1947, the 2nd, 6th, 7th and 10th regiments went to the British Army.
At present, the Indian army has almost 12 lakh soldiers but the Gurkha Regiment with their distinct hats, khukris and with never-say-die spirit stand apart. As per the officer of Indian Army, “They are wonderful troops who will follow you to the end of the earth if they respect you.”