The Unwavering Will
Despite losing more than
a score of men, Rajasthan Rifles soldiers yearn to go to the front
Heat-sapped Delhi wore
a shroud of grief as soldiers' coffins arrived. Yet the mood was far from
sombre at the Rajputana Rifles Regimental Centre at the Delhi Cantonment,
which to date, had lost 28 soldiers in the current conflict. Chests swelled
in pride as the 200 soldiers of the Raj Rif family awaited orders to join
their mates at the front.
combat mode: Commandant P.S. Choudhury of the Rajputana Rifles with his
Rajputana is the oldest rifle regiment
in the Indian army, and it recaptured Point 4590, Three Pimples, Knoll
and Lone Hill in the current conflict. Its 2nd battalion earned a special
award from Gen. V.P. Malik for its "meritorious and gallant performance
during the battle of Point 4590". However, in the course of these victories
Rajputana Rifles had lost 5 officers, 3 JCOs and 20 jawans.
"I have always wanted to join the
Raj Rif," said Rifleman Ramesh Kumar. Most riflemen are just out of their
teens. "They are men of steel," said Commandant P.S. Choudhury. A battle-hardened
veteran, Choudhury has won a Sena medal and three commendations from the
Honours are nothing new for the Rajputana
Rifles, which won the first Victoria Cross of the Indian Army in 1856.
After Independence it participated in Operation Blue Star, IPKF operations
in Sri Lanka and a number of counter-insurgency operations.
Raj Rif's first Param Vir Chakra
came in 1947-48 after battling Pathan raiders in Kashmir. It also won 2
Mahavir Chakras and 14 Vir Chakras.
The regiment comprises mainly Jats
and Rajputs with a sprinkling of Gujjars, Ahirs and Muslims from Uttar
Pradesh and Rajasthan. Its motto, before independence was Cele-et-Audax
(swift and bold), which was common to all rifle regiments. Now it is Vir
Bhogya Vasundhara (the brave shall inherit the earth).
In 1971, the 7th Raj Rif battalion
won the Battle of Mynamati capturing impregnable Mynamati ridge in one
night at the cost of 36 soldiers' lives.
Raj Rif has also proved its mettle
in peace time. In 1977 when floods threatened to engulf the capital, it
raised a 1200-foot-long bund to hold back the flood waters. It marches
on unwavering in spirit.
Courtesy: THE WEEK