Unit and Regiment is the driving force emotionally connecting every soldier through the years, decades and centuries of bravery, blood and sacrifices. New entrants find motivation through the unit and regimental histories. In such backdrop, if a unit’s actions are left out by design or default during celebrating of conflict at national level, it is very painful.
by Lt Gen Prakash Katoch (Retd)
Steeped in traditions of the Unit and Regiment, the Indian Army has a glorious record in war. The country, ‘Bharat Mata’, being foremost, all ranks will readily fight and lay down their lives for the name of the Unit and their Regiment, with every Regiment having its unique battle cry. The nomenclature ‘Regiment’ is derived from the Latin word ‘Regimen’ which implies a rule or system of order. There are two types of Regiments in the Indian Army: Infantry Regiments have a number of infantry Battalions grouped in individual regiments and: Armoured Corps, Artillery, Engineers, Signals and others are a single unit regiment.
Unit and Regiment are the rallying point for allegiance, pride and spirit de corps for the soldiers. Infantry Battalions of an Infantry Regiment are spread across several Brigades, Divisions, Corps and Commands. Regiments are headed by ‘Colonel of the Regiment’, which is a key element of regimental system in our Army for raising, equipping and training of troops. Regimental Centres send qualified soldiers to infantry Battalions which are assigned to Brigades, Divisions, Corps and Commands. Every Regiment has its own characteristic colours, uniform and insignia, and accomplishments in combat; winning ‘Battle Honours’ and ‘Theatre Honours’.
In the continuing traditions of combat, the President awards ‘Colours’ and ‘Standards’ to units for bravery and conspicuous service. Unit and Regiment is the driving force emotionally connecting every soldier through the years, decades and centuries of bravery, blood and sacrifices. New entrants find motivation through the unit and regimental histories. In such backdrop, if a unit’s actions are left out by design or default during celebrating of conflict at national level, it is very painful. The 20th Anniversary Kargil Victory was planned months back in very elaborate fashion with multitude of events, including documentaries, video clips of various events, interviewing formation commanders, participants of the Kargil Conflict, next of kin of martyrs etc, in addition to unit expeditions to places where battles were fought, Kargil torch traversing parts of India, finally ending up at the Kargil War Memorial at Dras in Ladakh to merge with the Kargil flame at the memorial, and the like.
Apparently enough homework was not done or there is subterfuge in narration and interviews connected with the 20th anniversary celebrations of the Kargil Conflict, which has hurt emotions and sentiments of certain units. This is something that that can only be felt by those who fought the battles and yet did not find mention, even as those who never have donned uniform may term it trivial. Brig OP Yadav, VSM, ex CO of 1 Bihar has written to the ADGPI that it was very disappointing to see in the movie circulated all over the country the misrepresentation of the fact that Jubar and Tharu were captured by 1/11 GR instead of 1 Bihar.
He goes on to say, “Either it is a genuine slip up or a deliberate effort to insult 1 Bihar which is unethical and immoral. I was commanding 1 Bihar during Op ‘Vijay’ and it is in the war book that Jubar was captured on might 6/7 July followed by Point 4927 and Kala Pahar on night 7/8 July, and finally Tharu on night 8/9 July. Link up with 1/11 GR took place on same day at Kurkarthang. There was no involvement of 1/11 GR in capture of Jubar and Tharu which is well documented. In recognition of their achievement, 1 Bihar was bestowed Battle Honour Batalik and Theatre Honour Kargil.”
Brigadier Yadav’s letter to ADGPI further states, “In light of above, I would request you to find out who was accountable for getting the facts vetted and failed in his task at the cost of insulting the sentiment of the regiment in general and 1 Bihar in particular. May I request you to make the correction and give it due publicity to restore the honour and dignity of the men who shed their blood and captured Jubar and Tharu during Operation Vijay?” Brig Yadav has mentioned two possibilities; either a genuine slip up or a deliberate effort to insult 1 Bihar.
But when 1/11 GR was not involved at all in operations for capture of Jubar and Tharuin, this hardly is a genuine slip up. This leads to the third possibility that the name of 1/11 GR has been deliberately inserted (in place of 1 Bihar) for self-aggrandizement and for pleasing someone up the line from the same Regiment. It is not simply unethical but amounts to sacrilege of operational ethics and against the finest traditions of the Indian Army.
Concurrently, Gurjit Singh Aujla, Member Parliament from Amritsar, raised in Lok Sabha the issue of failure to credit 8th Battalion of Sikh Regiment with capture of Tiger Hill during the recent commemoration of 20th anniversary of Kargil Conflict. Another post on social media says, “Ladakh Scouts and 8 Sikh made it to Tiger Hill and killed large number of Pakistani soldiers, and turned conflict in India’s favour, while other regiments suffered heavy casualties and were not able to fully control the situation. The fact was very well-known and in media at that time, now it is being diluted.”
Though the 20th anniversary of Operation ‘Vijay’ is over, it would be criminal for the Army to brush the above under the carpet. This requires thorough investigation and corrective action albeit how the movie mentioned by Brigadier Yadav and the associated video clips can be amended will need to be worked out by the ADGPI. As importantly, a public apology by the Army is warranted to the concerned units. General Bipin Rawat, COAS, himself being form 11 Gorkha Rifles, must personally intervene in the matter to ascertain who substituted 1/11 GR for 1 Bihar to please him.
Lt Gen PC Katoch (Retd), SC, is a third generation army officer. A Special Forces officer, he participated in the 1971 Indo-Pak War. He has served as Defence Attaché in Japan and Republic of Korea. An MSc in Defence Studies, he is an alumni of the Defence Services Staff College, SC, HC and NDC. He had also held the Field Marshal KM Cariappa Chair of Excellence for the year 2011-2012.The author can be reached Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.