BHARAT RAKSHAK MONITOR - Volume 3(4) January-February 2001

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Sanghatan aur Veerta


The Jat Regiment

Mandeep S. Bajwa and Ravi Rikhye


The Jat is the agriculturist par excellence and the quintessential soldier who dominates the area comprising the Punjab States, Sindh, Haryana, Jammu, Rajasthan, and Western Uttar Pradesh. Whether Hindu, Sikh, or Muslim he constitutes the most important peasantry in both India and Pakistan. But it is the Hindu Jat of Haryana, Western Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan who concerns us since it is he who forms the bulk of the composition of the Jat Regiment, renowned for it’s valour and dour steadfastness in battle. Although so near to the seat of Mughal power in Delhi, the Jats managed to preserve a semblance of independence. Primarily tillers, they are rustic par excellence and as fighting men have established for themselves a reputation of being determined, sturdy, fierce and desperate fighters. Their background makes them simple, hard working, honest and loyal – the essential qualities of good soldiers.

History 1803 to 1947

The British in their quest for power and domination in India came into conflict with the Jats and recorded that they caused them the maximum trouble to subdue after the Sikhs. So impressed were they by the soldierly qualities of the Jats that they soon started recruiting them in ever-increasing numbers into all branches of the Bengal Army. The 1st Battalion was raised as the 22nd Bengal Native Infantry in 1803. The 2nd and 3rd Battalions were raised in 1817 and 1823 respectively. All three battalions had distinguished records of service including the winning of many honours during WW 1. The 1st Battalion in particular served with great distinction in France and Iraq (then Mesopotamia) and was conferred the signal honour of being declared ‘Royal’ in addition to being made Light Infantry.

In the 1922 re-organization these Battalions along with the 18th Musalman Rajput Infantry were grouped together to form the 9th Jat Regiment with it’s class composition being fixed as 50% Jats from Punjab, 25% Punjabi Mussalmans from cis-Satluj States, Gujarat District and Ponchh District of J&K and Musalman Rajputs (Ranghars). World War 2 saw a large expansion in the ranks of the Regiment with a number of new battalions being raised. Owing to the large demands of manpower the Musalman Rajputs though still preferred were also augmented by the addition of Hindustani Mussalmans (Muslims from Haryana, UP, MP, Bihar, Rajasthan and the Deccan).

The Regiment saw a great deal of fighting with the Jats showing their mettle in North Africa, Ethiopia, Burma, Malaya, Singapore, and Java-Sumatra. A large number of gallantry awards were won including a Victoria Cross and two George Crosses. At the end of the war the Regiment, in company with other regiments of the Indian Infantry, dropped the numeral 9 from its title and became simply the Jat Regiment.

History 1947 to the Present

1947 saw the Regiment undergoing a great deal of change at last becoming a one-class Regiment of Jats, as it should have been from the beginning. The Punjabi Musalmans and Hindustani Mussalmans/Ranghars left for Pakistan being replaced by the Jats from the 15th Punjab Regiment, a Pakistan Regiment. Though 50% of the Regiment left for Pakistan and there were insufficient numbers of Jats to replace them someone in Army HQ had the foresight to give the Jats their due and make the Jat Regiment at last a true image of the proud yeoman peasantry it represented.

In free India the Jats maintained the high reputation they had created for themselves on the battle-fields of France and Flanders, Libya, Malaya and Burma to name a few. In Jammu and Kashmir 1947-48, the China War 1962, the conflicts with Pakistan in 1965 and 1971, and in Sri Lanka and Siachen, they have added to the laurels of the Regiment and the Army. Recently in the 1999Kargil Conflict five of the Regiment’s battalions took part and once again displayed the soldierly qualities that have made the Jats so well known in the community of fighting men. Earlier during the closing phase of the 1965 War with Pakistan a memorable night attack was launched by the 3rd Battalion and the tactically important hamlet of Dograi wrested from the enemy laying open the way to Lahore, Pakistan’s second largest city and emotionally very close to them. The performance of the Regiment’s Battalions during the UN missions in Korea and Congo has been in keeping with its high standards. Again, it performed very well in the Counter-Insurgency Operations that have kept the Indian Army busy ever since Independence. Nowadays it fights the foreign mercenaries in Kashmir with its traditional martial spirit.

Class Composition

The Jat Regiment’s class composition is 100% Jats from Haryana, Rajasthan, Delhi, and Uttar Pradesh except for 3 Battalions whose ethnic make-up is as follows:

12th – All India All Class

15th – The AJGAR Battalion recruiting Ahirs, Jats, Gujars and Rajputs the classes with a common heritage. This was done as an experimental measure to test whether the mixing of these inter-linked classes could lead to fulfillment of the dream of a section of the politico-bureaucratic hierarchy; a mixed Army. This perception is shared by some of the Army’s top brass also.

20th – One of the Vaidya Battalions. Raised as an unthinking measure by Gen. Vaidya the then Army Chief after the events of 1984 with a mixed class composition of Jats, Dogras, Garhwalis, and Marathas.

Battle Honours

Pre-1947

  • Nagpur, Afghanistan (1839)
  • Ghuznee, Ali Masjid, Candahar (1842)
  • Cabool (1842)
  • Maharajpore, Sobraon, Mooltan, Goojrat, Punjab, China (1858-9)
  • Kandahar (1880)
  • Burma (1885-87),
  • Afghanistan (1879-80)
  • China (1900)
  • La Basee (1914)
  • Festubert (1914-15)
  • Shaiba, Ctesiphon, Khan Baghdadi, Kut al Amara (1915)
  • Neuve Chappelle, France and Flanders (1914-15)
  • Defence of Kut al Amara, Tigris (1916)
  • Mesopotamia (1914-18)
  • North West Frontier (India) (1914-15) (1917)
  • Afghanistan (1919)
  • Razabil, Kampar, Burma (1942-45)
  • Jitra, Kanglatongbi, Malaya (1941-42) Ninshigum, The Muars, North Africa (1940-43)

Post-1947

  • Rajauri
  • Zoji La
  • Dograi (1965)
  • Phillora (1965)

Unit Citations

Citations are given instead of Battle/Theatre Honours when a unit is decorated for Counter Insurgency Operations.

  • 4th Battalion Nagaland 1995
  • 7th Battalion J&K 1997
  • 34th Battalion Rashtriya Rifles J&K 1997
  • 17th Battalion Operation Vijay 1999

Note: Operation Vijay was certainly not a CI operation, but because war was not declared between India and Pakistan, a Battle or Theatre honour could not be awarded.

Heraldry

Frankly, the Jat Regiment one of the premier regiments of the Indian Army has a rather uninspiring cap badge: the Roman numeral IX atop the Light Infantry bugle of the erstwhile 1st Battalion surmounted by the Ashoka Lions. This rather odd badge denotes the former seniority of the Regiment in the Army List. The Regiment never really got down to selecting an appropriate emblem for itself after Independence. A pity. The motto is 'Sanghatan aur Veerta' meaning Unity and Valour. The battle cry, adopted in 1955 is Jat Balwan Jai Bhagwan meaning that the Jat is Powerful, Victory be to God.

The Regimental Center

The Regimental Centre was originally raised in July 1795 at Calcutta. Ever since the raising of the Regiment in 1922 the Regimental Centre has been located at Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh.

The Battalions

  • 1 (Royal) Jat (LI) was originally raised in 1803 at Fatehgarh. It was affiliated to the Mechanized Infantry Regiment in 1980 and became its 2nd Battalion. Its class composition now is All India All Class.
  • 2nd Battalion (Mooltan) Raised at Bombay, October 1817. With the transfer of 1st Jats to the Mechanized Infantry Regiment in 1980, this is now the senior battalion.
  • 3rd Battalion (Dograi) Raised 13 July 1847 at Dinapur.
  • 4th Battalion (Asifwala) First raising July 1795 at Calcutta. Amalgamated with the 10th Training Battalion on 1 February 1922. Reraised 15 July 1940 at Jhelum. Lost after it surrendered at Singapore on 14 February 1942. Reraised 15 January 1962 at Bareilly. Served in Sri Lanka 4 Oct 1988 to June 1990.
  • 5th Battalion (Ladakh) Raised 1 February 1941 at Banaras. This battalion arrived in Ladakh in April of 1962 and was assigned to 114 Infantry Brigade (Leh). Its assignment, as part of India's "forward policy", was to protect the Central Sector, from the Galwan River to the Lunkung defile, which lay on the north end of Pangong Tso. One forward position, named Galwan post, was commanded by Major S.S. Hasabnis and about 60 men. The post had initially been set up by 1/8 Gorkha Rifles and had been surrounded by the Chinese from before the Jats took over. Movement to and from the post was mainly by helicopter. On October 20, 1962, the Chinese attacked this post with approximately 600 men. According to Major-General Jagjit Singh (Retired), then Brigade Major of 114 Brigade and author of the book The Saga of Ladakh, in the following battle 30 troops were killed, including two JCOs and Captain Paul, the medical officer at the post, and 18 were wounded, including Major Hasabnis. General Jagjit Singh notes that the post - in common with almost all others established as part of the forward policy - was located in a tactically unsound manner, and while this was clearly understood by Major Hasabnis and his men, there was nothing anyone could do about it as orders came from the highest level. After the first phase of Chinese attacks, the brigade HQ was ordered from Leh to Chushul as part of the reorganization of Indian forces in Ladakh. The battalion now found itself split between the two extremes of the 80-km long Central Sector. One company was deployed at the Taska La on the southern end, protecting the right flank of the brigade against a possible Chinese advance against Chushul from that direction. The rest of the battalion, supported by a troop from 32 Heavy Mortar Battery and a machine-gun detachment of the Mahar Regiment was deployed at the Lunkung defile. In the event, no further fighting was in store for 5 Jats. Their service in the area, and the defense of Post Galwan earned this battalion the right to append "Ladakh" to their name.
  • 6th Battalion. Raised 1 February 1941 at Bareilly. Served in Siachen 1993-94.
  • 7th Battalion. Raised 15 November 1962 at Bareilly.
  • 8th Battalion (Poonchh) Raised 14 December 1959 at Bareilly.
  • 9th Battalion (Chhamb) Raised 1 June 1962 at Bareilly.
  • 11th Battalion. We have two contradictory raising dates for this battalion. The first is 1 April 1964 at Bareilly. The second is in 1968. Originally raised as 31 Jat as an ‘I’ Battalion on a special T/O for CI Ops in the North-East using specially selected personnel from the Jat Regiment, Sikh Regiment, Punjab Regiment, Dogra Regiment and Grenadiers. Converted to a standard infantry Battalion in 1972. Now has an All India All Class Composition. Served in Siachen 1988-89.
  • 12th Battalion. Raised 7 June 1970 at Bareilly. Served in Sri Lanka 12th June 1988 to January 1990, and in Siachen 1998-99.
  • 14th Battalion. Raised 1 October 1963 at Bareilly. Served in Sri Lanka 14 December 1987 to December 1989.
  • 15th Battalion. Raised 15 May 1976 at Bareilly. Known as the AJGAR battalion.
  • 16th Battalion. Raised 1 October 1964 at Bareilly. Served in Siachen 1990-91.
  • 17th Battalion. Raised 1 June 1966 at Jabalpur.
  • 18th Battalion. Raised 1 October 1966 at Secunderabad.
  • 19th Battalion. Raised 1 August 1980 at Bareilly.
  • 20th Battalion. The Jat Regiment’s ‘Vaidya’ Battalion was raised on 27 February 1985 with a mixed class company composition of Jats, Dogras, Garhwalis and Marathas. However, on 9 August 1998 orders were received for the re-organization of the Battalion as a 100% Jat unit. The following were the departures/arrivals: Departures: 1.Dogras to 19 Dogra 2.Garhwalis to 18 Garhwal Rifles. (This company, who proudly style themselves as the Garhwali Jats, took a stellar part in Operation Vijay, capturing Point 4700 and winning a number of gallantry awards.) 3.Marathas to the Maratha Light Infantry Regimental Center. Arrivals: 1.Jats from 18 Garhwal Rifles 2.Jats from 10 Madras 3.The fourth rifle company was raised from personnel sent from the Centre and other battalions. The re-organization of the 20th Battalion as a pure Jat unit was complete was completed on 31 December 1999. Served in Siachen 1989-90.
  • 21st Battalion Raised 1 November 1987 at Bareilly. Served in Siachen 1991-92.
  • 114 Battalion, Territorial Army. Raised 1 October 1960 at Dehra Doon.
  • 5th Battalion Rashtriya Rifles. Raised 15 October 1990 at Ranikhet. This affiliated battalion gets 60% of its manpower from the Regiment.
  • 34th Battalion Rashtriya Rifles. Raised 1 September 1994 at Bareilly. This affiliated battalion gets 60% of its manpower from the Regiment.

 

This article is reproduced with permission from the excellent The Orders of Battle site maintained by Ravi and Kai Rikhye

 

Copyright Bharat Rakshak