This is a story of a unique Paltan of the Indian Army nicknamed ‘Nizam’s Own’ or the ‘Hyderabadis’. It was 117 years old when it went into battle at Hilli, East Pakistan, in December 1971 sacrificing lives of 26 brave men and another 60 seriously wounded. It opened the gateway for the capture of depth areas running towards the heartland of East Pakistan, after which Pakistan Army was rapidly collapsing and surrendering under the coordinated attacks of the Indian Army. The Paltan was engaged in operations since September 1971, even with some elements pulled out for the training of the Mukhti Bahini in guerilla Warfare, which the Paltan specialised.
The unit was raised on 5 November 1853, by Raja Rameshwar Rao of Wanaparthy, one of the Samasthans, most important in the Nizam’s dominion, located 100 Km south of Hyderabad. The army was mostly created by buying black slaves that Arab traders brought from Somaliland and sold in Bombay market. Along with them, he bought women for their wives. Once recruited, they were not treated as slaves and became fiercely loyal to the Raja. The Africans soon gave themselves name of Bin Bahiris or Sons of the eagle. By 5 November 1853, the Raja had organized the Wanparthy forces into the African Cavalry Guards, the Wanaparhty Lancers and an Infantry Battalion which retained the title of Bin Bahiris. (Ref: Image: 1)
The Bin Bahiris, a guerilla force, in the days of financial crisis was even used to get the booty to fill up the empty treasuries of Wanaparthy. They became a force to reckon with, but to the discomfort of the Nizam and the Government, as they would even attack the heavily guarded revenue collection convoys. Nizam had no option but to ask Raja Rameshwar Rao if he could lend the service of the force basically to save his treasuries from being attacked. Later, Bin Bahiris along with the Nizam’s Army joined the cause of the British and assisted them in suppressing the 1857 mutiny. The British deployed these units along with the Central India Brigade, captured Madanpur pass near Sagour and cleared Talbhet forests south of Jhansi. On demise of Raja Rameshwar Rao in 1866, Bin Bahiris staked claim that the Raja had left no heirs. The Raja’s sister persuaded Sir Salarjung I to accept the Bin Bahiris as a gift to the Nizam. The Bin Bahiris became the 4th Regiment of Hyderabad City troops and subsequently named Raja Paltan.
In 1947, at the time of partition of India, the British offered various princely states in the subcontinent the option of acceding to either India or Pakistan, or staying on as independent state. The Nizam decided to keep Hyderabad independent. The leaders of the union of India, however, were wary of having an independent and possibly hostile state in the heart of their new country. Most of the 565 princely states had already acceded to India or Pakistan voluntarily. Having experienced the state of Affairs in Kashmir, India launched a military operation named Operation Polo in September 1948 and annexed the state of Hyderabad and its forces. All Hyderabad forces were merged under 2nd Hyderabad Infantry (Ref: Image 2) and in 1953, the unit became part of Regular Indian Army and joined the Maratha Light Infantry Regiment as 22 Maratha Light Infantry. Certain units of the contingent are today also serving as 2 Kumaon and 4 Kumaon in the Indian Army.
It was easy for a traditional guerilla force to fit into the fighting traditions of the light Infantry, which specializes to mount surprise attacks at lightning speed from the flanks, marches faster than the regular infantry and wears black backed badges. The regiment maintained martial traditions of the Maratha warrior as trained by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. The Maratha Regiment was recognized by the British as the most competent organized guerilla force. They honoured the regiment with the formal title of the Light Infantry during the Great Wars. Maj Gen Lachman Singh Lehal, the then Divisional commander, under who this unit fought 1971 War, came to attend the 150 years Commemoration Ceremony held in Hyderabad on 5 November 2003 and presented copy of the surrender instrument signed by him. He admitted the professionalism, precision and gallantry of this unit who surprised and defeated the Pakistani unit 4 Frontier Force in a silent attack from the rear and the flanks and cleared the vital area of resistance without suffering heavy casualty as the other units. Names of these martyrs are etched in golden letters in the National War Memorial at New Delhi. Major Ramesh Kumar Dadkar in a rare feat jumped into the minefield, in a preliminary stage to save his subordinate, a Junior Commissioned Officer under heavy enemy fire, was killed in action and awarded Veer Chakra (posthumously). Mrs Geeta Dadkar, was one of the first Veer Naris (War Widow) who came to lay wreath at the newly built War Memorial dedicated by the hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the Armed Forces in February 2019.
The unit has mixed class composition of Marathas and Muslims in equal proportion. They always 2organize a mosque and Mandir in the same complex, the prasad (sacred food) is made together in the same dish. I remember the Subedar Majors repeatedly saying to the officers, ‘Saab hamari paltan hamesha buland rahegi, kyonki hamare upar do Chaat hai, ek Allah ki aur ek Bhawan Ki’ (Sir, our Paltan shall always be in high state of affairs, because we are having two roofs over us, one is of Allah and the other of Bhagwan). I remember when the unit was fighting on the Line of Control in Uri, troops would operate inside and in proximity to the enemy posts, in one of a major operation both Pandit and Maulvi were sitting together praying for Victory and safe return of troops. ‘Eating same’ and ‘fighting together’, with common greetings of ‘Ram Ram’ and the Battle Cry of ‘Bol Chhatrapati Maharaj Ki jai’ makes Hyderabadis a unique and great fighting entity. In 1965, when the Pakistani raiders were infiltrating across the CFL (Cease Fire Line – now called LoC) in Rajouri Sector, Naik Keshav Rao Salunke of the Paltan made the first contact with the enemy. In a fire fight that ensued, the infiltrators suffered heavy casualties. On 19 September, the Rifle company of the unit, tasked to keep the Lines of communication open, again inflicting heavy casualty on the raiders and later three enemy attacks were thrown back. Unit earned three Sena Medals in these operations.
The Paltan was always ahead and a preferred option in any operational task given to it, may it be fighting in Nagaland against Mao Angami, Building infrastructure along the Mac Mahon Line connecting Tawang to Bumla in early 1980s, fighting insurgency in J&K repeatedly or Manipur, defending the Line of Control at Uri, Kargil or Poonch; every commander liked this Paltan to be under his command. I remember, when I met Shri Khandu Dorji in 2008 at Itanagar, who was then CM of Arunachal Pradesh, recognized me after 25 years, holding me in embrace and burst out singing the Maratha LI Regimental song ‘Mard Ahmi Marathe Khare’ which he would sing along with the Paltan when the unit was building the famous road from Tawang to short of Bumla in 1983. The mid-staging area on the road is still called Maratha Ground. Shri Khandu Dorji, Late father of the current CM, Pema Khandu himself suggested that the unit should install statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj at the Maratha Ground. Today, the road is a life-line for the troops who are currently deployed against the Chinese PLA and defending the LAC and Tawang with complete support of the current CM Pema Khandu, the son of the deep nationalist Khandu Dorji Saab, who was called the honorary member of the Paltan.
Today is the raising day of this unique Paltan called the ‘Hyderabadis’. Paltan would be commemorating the 50 Years of the ‘Battle of Hilli’ next year.
Lt Gen P.J.S. Pannu, is an officer of 22 Maratha LI (Hyderabad) and a former Colonel of the Maratha Light Infantry and former Deputy Chief of the Integrated Defence Staff. He was the Chairman of the National War memorial Committee responsible to build the Memorial.
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‘ARMY CAN MEET ANY CHALLENGE TO SAFEGUARD COUNTRY’
The Army is fully prepared to meet any challenge like the use of drones and social media by adversaries to safeguard the country, said Commandant of Chennai-based Officers Training Academy (OTA) Lieutenant General M K Das. Lt Gen Das, who is also the colonel of the Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry (JAKLI) regiment, said the situation in J&K is getting better with the Army and other security agencies working together to stamp out terrorism. Speaking to media on the sidelines of the maiden attestation parade of 460 new recruits of the 126th batch after a successful 40-week training period at Dansal here, he said the Indian Army is aware of the challenges and prepared to give a befitting response to the enemies of the nation.
Talking about the need to introduce special training courses for soldiers in the aftermath of the developments in Afghanistan, he said, “Our training is very contemporary as it caters for all the contingencies and unforeseen situations. My young soldiers, who have taken the oath to defend the constitution and the country, will live up to all the challenges. One of the unique things of this regiment (JAKLI) is all our troops hail from J&K and Ladakh. They have ingrained quality to be security conscious much more than others.” Lt Gen Das said, “All the situations unfolding in the country or in our neighbourhood, the JAKLI regiment will continue to excel and be the lead agency in the fight against terrorism.” Asked about the challenges posed by the use of drones to hit targets and deliver weapons and narcotics from across the LoC and International Border, he said a capsule course on anti-drone measures has been introduced. “On Army Day on 15 January, our chief took the threat seriously and our soldiers are being prepared to deal with the challenge in a better way.” During recruitment training, Lt Gen Das said that besides the arms handing and exercises, thrust is also given on science and technology, cybersecurity and other new challenges. He said the misuse of social media by “anti-national” elements is a reality and the new recruits are being trained in cybersecurity during their basic and orientation courses.
On attempts by Pakistan to mislead the youth of J&K, Lt Gen Das said, “The youth of J&K is showing keenness to be a part of the regiment which is a message to those who think they can mislead our youth. Joining the regiment is the best way to serve the nation, the youth live like a family and there is complete communal harmony.” He said the regiment is increasing the number of local youth from Ladakh and would also go for recruitment in J&K to provide an opportunity to the local youth to become part of this regiment. Asked about his message to the misguided youth, he said, “J&K is the crown of India but if I focus as a soldier, I feel they (misguided youth) have not understood their country… the situation has not gone out of hand and the Army has kept its window open to allow them to surrender and join the national mainstream.”
He added, “We have a unit of 162 Infantry Territorial Army who are former militants but have become upright soldiers.” Lt Gen Das said the Army and other security agencies are working in close coordination and the situation in J&K is getting better and the “day is not far when this region will make our country proud.”
SOUTHERN NAVAL COMMAND OBSERVES INTERNATIONAL COASTAL CLEAN-UP DAY IN KOCHI
The Southern Naval Command observed International Coastal Clean-up Day on Saturday with a focus on mangrove plantation and clearance of plastic/non-biodegradable waste along with waterfront areas in and around Kochi, said a press release from the Ministry of Defence.
Pursuant to the global campaign of keeping coastlines clean, more than 600 Naval personnel and the families of Southern Naval Command undertook clearance of plastic and non-biodegradable waste at different locations spread across the city, coastal areas such as Fort Kochi beach, Thevara waterfront, Willingdon Island, Cherai beach, Bolgatty and around 2 km stretch of the Venduruthy channel while restoring around 1 lakh sqm of mangroves to the pristine condition. In addition, 80 mangrove saplings were also planted along the Venduruthy channel. Similar coastal cleanup drives and lectures/webinars/competitions emphasising protection of the coastal and marine environment were undertaken with the enthusiastic participation of the Naval community at other outstation Naval units located at Lonavala, Jamnagar, Chilka, Coimbatore, Goa, Ezhimala and Mumbai.
Being the Training Command of the Indian Navy, the Southern Naval Command has always been at the vanguard in promoting environmental conservation activities both at the Command Headquarters, Kochi as well as at Naval stations spread across the country.
Mandated to oversee naval training, the Southern Naval Command has conceptualised and implemented a variety of green initiatives. Keeping environmental preservation as one of the Key Result Areas, the Command has constantly endeavoured to motivate young officer and sailor trainees of the Indian Navy to imbibe the habit of protecting mother nature as part of their grooming efforts in preparing them to become responsible future Naval leaders and dependable citizens of India.
Particular attention has also been given to create more awareness among the families and more importantly the children.
During the last three years, the Command has adopted a multi-dimensional approach towards conservation of the environment and implementation of energy conservation methods.
To highlight a few, the personnel of the Command were actively involved in the rejuvenation of 4.5-km-long Venduruthy Channel near Kochi Naval base, creating awareness in and around Naval establishments.
Efforts were undertaken to enhance green cover by conducting mass plantation drives which included planting more than 75,000 trees, using the fast-growing Miyawaki forestation method. In addition, regular coastal clean-up drives, mangrove plantation drives, in-house handling and recycling of bio and non-biodegradable waste, adopting efficient energy and water-saving methods etc were also undertaken. The Command has also earnestly endeavoured to continue all the efforts for protecting and conserving the environment and natural resources. Towards achieving the same, the Command has implemented a Green Initiative and Environment Conservation Roadmap with a prime focus on Carbon footprint reduction.
With the personal involvement of Vice Admiral Anil Kumar Chawla, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Naval Command is committed to creating a clean, green and healthy environment in line with the visionary environment conservation policies of the Govt of India. On the occasion, Adv M Anilkumar, Mayor, Kochi Municipal Corporation and staff also participated in Kochi.
IAF TO HOLD AIR SHOW OVER DAL LAKE IN SRINAGAR ON 26 SEPT
An air show will be held here on 26 September where IAF’s skydiving team Akash Ganga and Suryakiran Aerobatic and Display Team and paramotor flying will manoeuvre the skies over the famous Dal Lake, officials informed on Saturday.
The air show will be organised by the Air Force Station Srinagar and the Jammu and Kashmir administration as part of the ongoing celebrations commemorating ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’, they said. The main aim of the exercise—under the theme ‘Give Wings to Your Dream’—is to motivate the youth of the valley to join the Indian Air Force (IAF) and to promote tourism in the region, the officials said.
The event will be flagged off Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha at the Sher-e-Kashmir International Conference Centre (SKICC) overlooking Dal Lake.
More than 3,000 college and school students are expected to participate in the programme to witness the impressive manoeuvres of the IAF, which will motivate them to dream about a career in the force and in the aviation sector, the officials said. “The show will also develop passion among the students to give wings to their dreams. Along with the students, 700 teachers will also be present at the venue,” they added.
During the demonstration, students will also be familiarised with the new technological advancements achieved and incorporated by the IAF while flying aircraft in the sky over the world-famous Dal Lake, the officials said. Stalls will be established at SKICC where students will be familiarised with the achievements of the Air Force, employment opportunities in the IAF, recruitment rules and eligibility criteria, they added.
Srinagar-based PRO Defence Col Emron Musavi said the display will include flypast by various aircraft of the IAF. The spectators would also get to witness paramotor flying and IAF’s skydiving team Akash Ganga in action. ‘Ambassadors of IAF’, Suryakiran Aerobatic Display Team, will be performing in the valley after a gap of 14 years, he said. Col Musavi said the symphony orchestra of the IAF would also be performing at the event. The event would also consist of a photo exhibition depicting the history of the
IAF, he said.
ARMY ORGANISES EXHIBITION IN JAIPUR TO COMMEMORATE INDIA’S VICTORY IN 1971 WAR
JAIPUR : South Western Command of the Indian Army on Saturday organised an exhibition showcasing defence equipment at Chitrakoot Stadium in Jaipur to mark the 50th anniversary of India’s victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war.
Speaking to ANI, an Indian army official said, “We have displayed the defence equipment in this exhibition to make people aware of the Indian army achievements. We want to motivate the youth by showcasing these types of equipment.” “Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, these events had been started to make people aware of Indian Arm Forces. So, we are also continuing the move by organising these kinds of events,” he added.
Further, he said that India’s victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war is memorable for all the Indians, so, every citizen should be aware of this war.
BRO makes history, appoints woman Army officer in-charge of road construction unit
The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has appointed a woman Army officer for the first as the Officer Commanding of its 75 road construction company (RCC) in Uttarakhand, the Defence Ministry said on Sunday.
The three platoon commanders under Major Aaina, Captain Anjana, AEE (Civ) Bhawana Joshi and AEE (Civ) Vishnumaya K became the first women RCC. The appointments were made on August 30.
BRO on Sunday recalled the list of women officers who were assigned higher leadership roles in the organisation in the current year.
According to a statement issued by the Defence Ministry, BRO has inducted a large number of women into its workforce over the years, right from officers to the level of commercial pilot license holders. “In this regard, a General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF) officer EE (Civ) Vaishali S Hiwase took over the reins of 83 Road Construction Company on April 28, employed on an important Indo-China road connecting Munisairi-Bughdiar-Milam, in an area full of adversity and challenges. The lady officer has taken control and is leading the charge with meticulous execution of her tasks,” the statement said.
“The BRO created history again on 30 August when Major Aaina of Project Shivalik took charged as Officer Commanding, 75 Road Construction Companies (RCC) at Pipalkoti in Chamoli district in Uttarakhand. She is the first Indian Army Engineer Officer to command a road construction company. Not only this, all three platoon commanders under her, Captain Anjana, AEE (Civ) Bhawana Joshi and AEE (Civ) Vishnumaya K are lady officers and they have together created a first-ever women RCC. The Border Roads plans to make four such all women-led RCCs, two each in North Eastern and Western Sectors.”
As India celebrates 75 Years of Azaadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, it also celebrates the ongoing efforts of our Nation towards women empowerment. Women today have started assuming their rightful, equal place as the frontrunners in nation-building and representatives of our strong national character, the statement read.
Over the last six decades, in a graduated and steady manner, the BRO has increased the number of women employed in various roles and duties of road construction. A consolidated effort is being made to empower them by giving them authority and responsibilities to undertake work independently. These women have become symbols of Nari Shakti in their respective areas.
IN FIRST FOREIGN VISIT AFTER TAKING OVER AS CDS, GEN BIPIN RAWAT TO VISIT RUSSIA, US
In his first visit abroad after taking over as the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Bipin Rawat will be visiting Russia and the US.
Rawat took over his new office as CDS on 31 December 2019, and since then has been declining foreign invitations for focusing on the new assignment of integrating the defence forces as a combined fighting force. “There is a conference of the CDS-rank officers of the Shanghai Cooperation Agreement member countries. China and Pakistan are also part of this grouping,” senior defence officials said.
The CDS conference would be focusing on addressing the regional security issues and Afghanistan is also likely to come up for discussion, they said.
The CDS would also witness the activities of the respective armed forces taking part in the SCO peace mission drills being held in Russia. Indian Army and Air Force are also taking part in the exercise there.
The visit will take place in the coming week and soon after return from Russia, Rawat would be leaving for the US for meeting his counterpart and other American military leadership at the Pentagon.
The two countries have been coming closer militarily in the last few years and have been holding multiple military exercises and hardware cooperation.
The Indian military saw a major change in senior-level structures under the Narendra Modi government as the focus is now on the theatrisation of the fighting forces and bringing in more capabilities and jointness among the three services.
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