“If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or is a Gurkha.”
Gurkhas (soldiers recruited from Nepal), are considered to be one of the top elite millitary units of the world serving in Indian Army and British Army since centuries. Such is the reputation of Gurkhas that their loyalty, ambition, ferocity and resolve remains unmatched. They never hold themselves back in any combat and prefer death over surender which makes them one of the most feared soldiers in the world. They have won the respects all over the world, even of their enemies.
Gurkhas’ fighting abilities first came into limelight in 1814 when the East India Company troops suffered heavy casualties while attacking the Himalayan foothills. Though the Nepalese warriors lost, but they got immense respect from the British and as a gesture, British offered Gurkhas to join their army. The first Gurkha Regiment was raised on April 24, 1815 in the Solan district of Himachal Pradesh and the rest is history. 200,000 Gurkhas fought for British Army in the two World Wars suffering around 20,000 casualties, and receiving almost 2,000 gallantry awards.
At the time when India gained independence from the colonial rule, there were 10 regiments of the Gurkha Rifles. A treaty was signed between Nepal, India and British in which British took away four regiments and the rest six regiments opted to join the Indian Army. However, a 11th regiment was raised by Indian Army later on, which included the soldiers who did not want to join the British Army.
The Gurkhas have fought in every every major campaign involving Indian Army and have won many gallantry awards like Param Vir Chakra and Maha Vir Chakra. Sam Manekshaw – India’s 1st Field Marshal (highest attainable rank in the Indian army which has been awarded only twice till date), was a product of Gurkha Rifles. General Dalbir Singh Suhag, current Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) of Indian Army, is from the Gurkha Rifles. Also, there are endless tales of Gurkha soldiers being involved in an act of valour and courage. Recently, a Gurkha soldier from Indian Army – Bishnu Shrestha, armed with just a knife, single handedly killed 20 armed dacoits in a train in Bengal and saved a girl from being raped.
Indian and British armies carry out recruitment for Gurkha Rifles every year. In Nepal, it is considered to be a great honour for a youth to be a Gurkha. Perhaps, the most talked about detail of the Gurkhas is the unique and the iconic 18 inch steel curved knife called “Khukuri”, which they carry in every battle. It is said that once the knife is drawn in the battle, it has to taste the blood of enemy or else the soldier himself has to cut himself before returning the knife to its sheath. Gurkhas are also known for their famous warcry “Jai Maha Kali, Ayo Gorkhali” which translates to Hail Goddess Kali.
Salute to these brave soldiers.
Posted by : Vivek Swamy