Gorkha regiments (India)

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The 1st Battalion of 1 Gorkha Rifles of the Indian Army take position outside a simulated combat town during a training exercise.

Since the independence of India in 1947, as per the terms of the Britain–India–Nepal Tripartite Agreement, six Gorkha regiments, formerly part of the British Indian Army, became part of the Indian Army and have served ever since. The troops are Gorkhas, residents of Nepal and ethnic Gorkha(Nepali) citizens of India. They have a history of courage in battle, evident from the gallantry awards won by Gorkha soldiers and battle honours awarded to Gorkha both before and after joining the Indian Army. A seventh Gorkha Rifles regiment was re-raised in the Indian Army after Independence to accommodate Gorkha soldiers of 7th Gurkha Rifles and the 10th Gurkha Rifles who refused to transfer to the British Army.

Origins[edit]

Main articles: Gurkha and British Indian Army

Impressed by the fighting qualities displayed by the Gorkhas of Nepal during the Gurkha War, Sir David Ochterlony was quick to realise Gorkha Regiment, was raised as the Nasiri regiment. This regiment later became the 1st King George’s Own Gurkha Rifles, and saw action at the Malaun fort under Lieutenant Lawtie.

They were instrumental in the expansion of the British East India Company throughout the subcontinent. The Gorkhas took part in the Anglo-Sikh wars, Afghan wars, and in suppressing the Indian Rebellion of 1857. Throughout these years, the British continued to recruit the Gorkhas and kept increasing the number of Gorkha regiments.

By the time First World War started, there were 11 Gorkha regiments under the British Indian Army.[citation needed] The Gorkha regiments played a vital role in the Commonwealth armies during both the World Wars seeing action everywhere from Monte Cassino in the west to Rangoon in the east, earning battle honours everywhere. As a testament to the psychological factors of the Gorkha Regiments on its enemies, during the North African campaign, the German Afrikakorps accorded great respect to the brave Nepalese knife khukri-wielding Gorkhas.

Post Independence[edit]

War memorial to slain Gorkha soldiers, Batasia Loop, Darjeeling

Following India's independence, India, Nepal and Great Britain signed a Tripartite Agreement, and of the total of 10 regiments, six (1 GR, 3 GR, 4 GR, 5 GR, 8 GR and 9 GR) regiments of the Gurkha Rifles joined the Indian Army. In 1950, when India became a republic, the Royal titles were dropped from the regiments that joined the Indian Army.

Following the divisions of the Gorkha regiments, the British Army decided that joining of the British Army would be entirely voluntary for the Gorkha soldiers and decided to hold a referendum. As a result, large numbers of men from the 7th Gurkha Rifles and the 10th Gurkha Rifles, which recruited predominantly from Eastern Nepal, decided not to join their regiments as part of the British Army. In order to retain a contingent from this area of Nepal, the Indian Army made the decision to raise the 11 Gorkha Rifles. Although there was an ad hoc regiment raised during World War 1 with troops drawn from the various Gurkha units, the troops mostly retained the uniform and insignias of their respective regiments (with a few exceptions who wore 11 GR badges which was unofficial as no sanction was given for such). This regiment was disbanded in 1922 and has no relation to the present-day 11 Gurkha Rifles, though some do claim so.

Since independence, the Gorkhas have fought in every major campaign involving the Indian Army being awarded numerous battle and theatre honours. The regiments have won many gallantry awards like the Param Vir Chakra and the Maha Vir Chakra. The 8 Gorkha Rifles, has the unique distinction of producing one of the two Field Marshals of the Indian Army, Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw and is still revered as one of its finest officers.

5/5 Gorkha Rifles (Frontier Force) fought gallantly in Hyderabad police action in 1948. Naik Nar Bahadur Thapa of 5/5 Gorkha Rifles (Frontier Force) earned the first Ashok Chakra Class I of independent India, in Hyderabad Police Action on 15 September 1948. The 4/5 Gorkha Rifles (Frontier Force) fought in the Battle of Sylhet, earning the distinction of being the first regiment of the Indian Army to be involved in a heliborne attack. Under the Indian Army, Gorkhas have served in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Siachen, and in the UN peacekeeping missions in Lebanon and Sierra Leone.

Major Dhan Singh Thapa of the 1/8 Gorkha Rifles won the Param Vir Chakra for his heroic actions during the 1962 Sino-Indian conflict. The 1st battalion of the 11 Gorkha Rifles was involved in Operation Vijay where Lt. (acting Captain) Manoj Kumar Pandey won the Param Vir Chakra for his gallant actions.

Current Strength[edit]

Soldiers of the 99th Mountain Brigade's 2nd Battalion, 5 Gorkha Rifles, during Yudh Abhyas 2013.

Currently there are 39 battalions serving in 7 Gorkha regiments in the Indian Army. Six regiments were transferred from the British Indian Army, while one was formed after independence;

The individual Gorkha rifle regiments of India are collectively known for regimental purposes as the 'Gorkha Brigade' between themselves and are not to be confused with the Brigade of Gurkhas of the British Army.

In popular culture[edit]

A platoon of the 1/11 Gorkha Rifles, led by Lt. Manoj Kumar Pandey, has been depicted in the Bollywood movie LOC Kargil. Rais and Limbus who are collectively called as Kirantis are also associated with the Mythological warrior Arjuna. Arjuna fought a duel with a Kiranti warrior who defeated him in the duel. The Kirantis in turn associate themselves with lord Shiva.

See also[edit]

References[edit]