The 1930 Peshawar Mutiny …

Posted on April 27, 2019. Filed under: Regimental |

Gen KM Bhimaya –

 I have not read Gen Palit’s biography of Gen Rudra, but I had two opportunities to engage the Grand Old Man in conversation. He was very guarded in his reference to Peshawar 1930.

I also faintly remember to have read another connection between General Rudra and Peshawar incident, in which the General was referred to as “Jick Rudra.”

I do not have a shadow of doubt about Gen Rudra’s statements, provided it has been correctly recorded by Gen Palit whose writings, however, are controversial.

Notwithstanding the above, we have to recognize the following facts:

  • The following comprised the Court of Inquiry – President: Maj Gen C. Kirkpatrick, C.B., C.B.E., Commander Kohat  Brigade
  • Members:  Lt Col King. 10/1 Punjab; Lt Col  A.H. Radford 10/13 FF. Lt Col L.M. Heath C.I.E, MC  1/11 SIKH —- DATE – 28th April 1930 to 7th May 1930.               

There were many confidential follow-up inquiries that were carried out by the Battalion as well as the local formation.

Notable, among them were the inquiries conducted, at the instance of the British by Gen Jick Rudra, and Lt Col G.R. Mainwaring who assumed command immediately after the previous CO was removed.

I have already summarized the account by Lt Col Mainwaring in one of the Garhwali Journals and have quoted relevant primary evidence supporting my inferences.

Lt Col Mainwaring was largely responsible to restore the dignity and reputation of the Battalion.

The iconic Hony Capt Nain Singh Chinwan OBI, MC also visited the Battalion to boost its morale. He was Sub Maj of the 2/39th for five consecutive years in France and elsewhere.

By the way, Lt Col Heath was GOC III Corps in Malaya during the British capitulation and was responsible to raise the combined 2/18 and 5/18 as 18 Royal Garhwal Rifles (Malaya), instead of mixing the Garhwali draft and remnants into a mixed Battalion.

I am sensitive to the fact that Peshawar incident is an emotional focal point among Garhwalis, but we have to recognize and respect documented facts, not runaway myths.


A. The troops were not briefed properly; they were confused whether to open fire in self-defense, or whether they should await orders from an officer; Capt Ricketts, MC was badly wounded;

B. per, Lt Col Mainwaring, this officer was away from the Regiment for a long duration and his statement about the conduct of troops did not represent the facts;

C. The DG police, Mr. Isomenger’s statement about the conduct of our troops was highly subjective: his anger as to why the Garhwalis were not infuriated when Capt Ricketts was wounded misread the Garhwali psyche:

D. the Garhwali needs a real enemy to fight and was confused about how to resist a violent and partially armed crowd, particularly when they had been repeatedly told not to open fire unless ordered by an officer.

E. Subsequent inquiries within the Battalion revealed that Havs Chandar Singh Bhandari and Narain Singh Gusain had been attending meeting organized by Arya Samajis in Peshawar.

F. One senior JCO of A Coy was disgruntled for unspecified reasons and his discontent was aggravated by the punishment meted out to him by the Commanding Officer for dereliction of duties, the previous day. Eventually, he opted for premature retirement.

G. The disaffection and insubordination was confined to two platoons of A Coy, and the rest of the Battalion complied with lawful commands.

It transpires that the then- CQMH Chandar Singh Bhandari was given a minor punishment, as was the Senior JCO of A Coy.

At the end of the GCM, however, when it was established that Hav Narain Singh Gusian and CQMH Chandar Singh Bhandari were the ringleaders who encouraged some OR to sign the mass request to be sent on premature retirement, the CQMH was given stiffer punishment than before – penal servitude for life.

Eventually, because of political pressure, notably from some British MPs in Parliament, all of the convicted except two were released before 1937. CQMH Chandar Singh Bhandari was released in or about 1940.

None of them had to undergo penal servitude. The convicted NCOs and OR were incarcerated  within the shores of India: Attock, Bareilly etc., not in the  Andamans, as is generally believed.

The collateral damage had been done, however: About 39 OR were summarily dismissed under the orders of the Brigade Commander!

Field Marshal Chetwode, the then-C-in-C India, played a major part in hastening the release of the convicted OR before completion of their respective sentences.


CQMH Chandar Singh Bhandari was nowhere near the scene of action. Therefore, there was no question of his countermanding Rickett’s orders, or inciting the men not to fire.

In fact Jemadar Luthi Singh IOM, did fire to snatch his revolver back from some violent members of the crowd.

The langar gap that the Sardars at the GOs (Garhwali Officers) mess had decided not to fire on unarmed, agitating crowd was making rounds. This was untrue.

I am prepared to review Gen Palit’s narrative, provided it is substantiated by documentary proof. Oral history is interesting, but seldom accurate.

I will be glad to continue with the discussion, if there is interest.

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Soldiering and Sex …

Posted on December 4, 2018. Filed under: Regimental |

Courtesy the Erudite Hamid Hussien –

When the British arrived in India, India was sexually more liberal than Europe. Heterosexual and homosexual relations were common, open and celebrated in poetry and paintings. Concubines were a common phenomenon practiced by all religious and ethnic groups.  In contrast, there was quite strict sexual repression in Victorian England. 

In eighteenth and nineteenth century India, prostitution was legal and well-regulated in British controlled India.  In 1850s, there were seventy five military districts and in every district prostitution was supervised by authorities.  Doctors of Indian Medical Service (IMS) were responsible for regulating brothels. 

All prostitutes were registered, minimum age for prostitutes was fifteen and women were provided with their own living quarters or tents that were regularly inspected.  Some establishments were quite large and a brothel in Lucknow had fifty five rooms. 

Prostitutes infected with sexually transmitted diseases were removed and not allowed to practice their trade until recovered. 

Both native and European soldiers used these bazaars; however sepoys were discouraged to visit those prostitutes preferred by European soldiers.  Most British soldiers were from lower strata of the society and were not held to the standard of a British officer. 

British soldiers visited prostitutes more often than sepoys.  One reason was that British soldiers were not married while sepoys were usually married men.   These bazaars were called ‘lal bazaars’ (red streets).  Both heterosexual and homosexual relations were common. 

British regiments spent several years in India and many a times children were born of such relationships.  Special houses and schools were assigned as early a the eighteenth century for these children. 

As far as British officers were concerned, the phenomenon was common in 18th and early 19th century. However, nature of sexual relations was different.  Officers married among the elite of India. 

Most Company employees both civil and military joined the service at the age of sixteen.  Several factors such as very young age, prolonged decade long stay in India, with limited home leave, postings to far off station with little contact with Europeans and influence of native consorts and wives resulted in complete ‘nativization’ of some of these Englishmen. 

Many Europeans kept native concubines while being legally married to local women both Muslim and Hindu.  These women were kept in a separate house named Bibi Ghar.  The practice was common and surviving Wills from Bengal in the years 1780-85 show that one in three record bequests to Indian wives and companions. 

Some Englishmen retained their own religion and culture while others converted to Hinduism or Islam and became completely ‘native’.  Some children of such unions roamed in two worlds comfortably while others drifted to one side.  Some were educated in England and finally settled there while others grew up as natives in India.  Some of the off springs of these unions even became celebrated poets and scholars of Urdu and Persian (Farasu, Shaiq, Sufi etc.).

William Darlymple has documented these liasions in detail in his excellent works. 

British Resident in Delhi Sir David Ochterlony lived like an oriental nawab and had thirteen native consorts; the most famous one being Mubarak Begum. 

British Resident to the court of Marhattas in Pune General William Palmer married Begum Fayze Bakhsh of a prominent Delhi family.  British Resident at Hyderabad Lieutenant Colonel James Achilles Kirkpatrick married Khair un Nissa; great niece of the Prime Minister of Hyderabad.  James’s half- brother William lived with his consort named Dhoolaury Bibi.

Major General Charles Stuart had practically became a Hindu and lived with his Hindu wife.  He was nicknamed ‘Hindu Stuart’ and ‘General Pandit’.  He was buried in Christian cemetery in Calcutta but with his Hindu gods. 

The commander of British troops in Hyderabad Lieutenant Colonel James Darlymple married the daughter of Nawab of Masulipatam; Mooti Begum.  William Linnaeus Gardner married the daughter of Nawab of Cambay Begum Mah Manzel un Nissa. 

After freelance service with Marhattas and Nizam of Hyderabad, he raised irregular cavalry regiment named Gardner’s Horse for East Company.  This regiment still survives as 2nd Lancers of Indian army.  Gardner lived happily on his wife’s estate near Agra (Mah Manzal was adopted daughter of Mughal Emperor Akbar Shah II).  His son James married Begum Malka Humanee; a niece of Mughal Emperor (she was also sister in law of Nawab of Lucknow).  William’s granddaughter was married to a Mughal prince Mirza Anjum Shikoh Bahadar. 

Another soldier of fortune Hercules Skinner married a Hindu Rajput lady and several children were born from this union (she committed suicide when Skinner tried to take their daughters out of purdah to be educated and married to Englishmen).  Their son James Skinner raised the famous irregular cavalry regiment Skinners Horse nick named ‘Yellow Boys’.  This is now the senior most cavalry regiment of Indian army – Ist Lancers.  James had fourteen Hindu and Muslim wives and consorts.  He lived like a Muslim but later in life regularly read Bible and was buried in St. James Church in Delhi. 

Near the end of eighteenth century and early nineteenth century, Company laws, rise of Evangelical Christian activity and steady flow of European ladies in India severely restricted such encounters and by the middle of nineteenth century, it was a rare phenomenon.  By the middle of nineteenth century, this trend had almost died down. 

One of the last stories of such love affairs is Colonel Robert Warburton of Bengal Artillery and Shah Jahan Begum; a niece of Amir Dost Muhammad Khan of Afghanistan.  Warburton fought in First Anglo-Afghan war (1839-42) and was captured by Afghans.  He fell in love with Shah Jahan Begum and married her. 

The offspring of this union was Robert Warburton; born in a fort near Gandamak in 1842 when his mother was on the run. He was fluent in English, Persian and Pushtu and served as Political Agent of Khyber Agency for eighteen years.  In a strange irony, Warburton senior was born in Ireland and buried in Christian Cemetery of Peshawar while Warburton Junior was born in Afghanistan and buried in Brompton cemetery near London. 

British were apprehensive about Indians interacting with English women.  In late 1800 and early 1900s when qualified Indian doctors were admitted to Indian Medical Service (IMS), British were uncomfortable posting them to positions where they had to examine English women.   

The issue of relationship of Indians with English women rose during Great War.  In Great War, Indian soldiers came in contact with European society when they fought on Western front.  Some Indians especailly Sikhs and Pathans had sexual relations with local French women – including formal marriage.  The British were alarmed and they were not allowed to bring these women back to India. 

My sister-in-law’s grandfather Khan Zaman Khan Babar IDSM; a Pathan married a French lady when he was in France.  Family joke is that there may be some lost cousins roaming around in France. 

Some Pathans (mainly trans-frontier Afridis) who deserted to Germans married German women and a handful brought back these women to tribal areas.  Khyber political Agent files kept track of these folks.  One Afridi stayed back in Germany after the war and was running a tobacco shop in a German town.

Nomadic Suleman Khel powindas took their camels to Australia for laying telegraph, railway and roads. Some came back with Australian women. 

One such indomitable Australian lady became the head of the miri (large roaming settlements that traveled between Central Asia and India) after the death of her husband.  She would be sitting on the camel in front of the caravan and greeting British scout officers in heavy Australian accent on entering the tribal territory.

Some Indian princes had married English women in 20th century.  Indianization of officer corps increased social contact with English society.  In mid 1930s when English women started to use swimming pools, presence of Indian officers in clubs watching scantily clad Englishwomen was not welcome. 

Second issue was related to dancing.  Formal dancing was part of officialdom.  Very few Indian officers were Anglicized as well as good at ballroom dancing to ask Englishwomen for a dance. 

General ‘Timmy’ Thimayya (4/19 Hyderabad Regt) was probably an exception in this regard. 

The problem with Indian officers was that they wanted equal treatment including right to attend exclusive clubs and swim and dance with Englishwomen if they agreed but not willing to bring their own women. 

A number of Indian officers kept their women in ‘purdah’.  This applied to both Muslim and non-Muslim officers especially high caste Rajput officers.  Even the most liberal Indian officers with educated wives were not comfortable with dancing as the couple may not be good at it or aware of getting chastised by their own communities for allowing their women to dance with English officers.  

Around Second World War, both societies have seen significant changes where many Indian officers married Englishwomen.

Lovers of boys got themselves posted to PIFFERs and scouts to share Pathan passion of homosexual liaison.  Officers posted to regiments with significant Pathan element or scouts faced unique headaches. 

There may be a case where a young recruit would put a bullet in the head of a randy old Subedar for unwanted advances.  Discipline problem when Subedar giving special favors to his ‘young lad’ by keeping him at headquarters rather than sending him to remote posts and giving him easy duties and giving him excuse from fatigue duties. 

At other times, two young sepoys would insist that they should be posted together for night sentry duty or to an outpost where they would be together for days. 

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WWI – Garhwali Golden Jubilee …

Posted on September 21, 2018. Filed under: Regimental, Uncategorized |

From Gen KM Bhimaya ...

 The Daily Telegraph, London, dated 8 September 2018, writes –
About how Lord Jitesh Gadhia (the youngest British Indian member of the House of Lords), an Ambassador for the Royal British Legion’s Thank You campaign commemorated the services of the Undivided Indian Army – 11 VCs, of which 2 were won by The Garhwal Rifles Regiment.
The Thank You Campaign was commrmorated together with the current visiting Indian cricket team and the current British cricket team.

The team members wore special, unique poppies made out of khadi, in a fitting tribute to Mahatma Gandhi, who supported Indian participation and help to the British in their hour of need.

The Indian contribution to the British War Effort is mind- boggling –
1.3 million soldiers and over 10,000 nurses.
Out of which 74,000 lost their lives fighting from the Somme to the Sahara.
Contribution of over 20 billion British pounds – in today’s money,
170,000 animals and 37000 tons of Supplies.
Copy of this Daily Telegraph was sent to Gen Bhimaya by Mrs. Lucy Clarke, widow of Maj ARE Clarke of 2/18 RGR – and daugther-in-law of Brig AE Clarke of the 2/39th and 2/18 RGR.
Brig Clarke was the Center Commandant when The Garhwalis celebrated the Golden Jubilee of the Raising of the Regiment in 1937.
Incidentally while preparing for the Celebration of the Centenary of the Regiment’s Raising in 1987, the Author of this Blog chanced upon the Menu Card of the Golden Jubilee Dinner.
In addition to details of the Dinner, at the Bottom of the Card in Italics was the admonition, ‘No Speeches Please’
At the Centenary Dinner – ALAS!!!
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Heroism, Elan …

Posted on May 27, 2018. Filed under: Regimental |

Maj Gen K.M. Bhimaya (Retd), Ph.D, writes ……

Some of us must have read an account of how a potential terrorist was disarmed in a Paris-bound train from Amsterdam by two Frenchmen, a Briton, and three Americans.

I recall a Senior Command discussion on this subject which was led by the Late Gen Vas, the then-Commandant, College of Combat. After detailed discussion, the consensus was that, while courageous leaders would still meet unforeseen dangers with vigor and élan, it would be difficult to train for such situations.

One explanatory factor, arguably, was the uniqueness of each situation, incapable of being replicated and incorporated in peacetime training, particularly in simulation. Another identified antidote to panic was contrived, or spontaneous humor.

Field Marshal Slim recapitulated a humbling incident he witnessed during the disorganized retreat from Burma in 1941-42 (Defeat into Victory). When he was rambling aimlessly, he came across his old JCO (then-Sub Maj) from one of the Gurkha (most probably the 7th) Battalions.

The portly Sub Maj paid the usual compliments and gleefully remarked “It is interesting to observe the commander who does not seem to know what is doing.” The Field Marshal admitted that it was a wake-up call for him to get a handle on what was going on. More important, he remarked that it was a humbling experience, too.

The reference to humor brought back memories of an apocryphal anecdote that had gained currency in the corridors of South Block, immediately after our victory in the Indo-Paik conflict of 1971. The main actors were “Sam Bahadur”, the late Lt Gen I.S. Gill, the-then DMO, and the late Lt Gen Harprasad, the then-VCOAS.

Unbeknown to these main actors, was an ops room Captain, nervous but attentive, and within the hearing distance of these luminaries’ deliberations. What he heard may serve as an object lesson on how to scale down the panic level in a crisis situation.

The inimitable Sam Bahadur stormed into the ops room and started his customary harangue which soon turned into a tirade. Politically, the sailing wasn’t smooth for India in the security council. The setbacks in the Akhnur sector did not augur well for the intended, speedy and decisive conclusion of the conflict.

After berating the DMO, Sam Bahadur asked him pointedly, “What should we do now?” Pat came the calm response from the DMO: “Sam, I don’t know what you’re going to do, but I’m going to the loo.”

The deafening silence that followed was broken by Sam Bahadur who responded, “That’s a damn good idea. I’m following you to the loo.”

It is believed that, when the trio returned from the same place, they had regained their composure, and had a very good, productive discussion!

This anecdote, if true, underlines the importance of humor in alleviating stress in a crisis situation. The humor may not have won the war for us, but it definitely brought about a transformation of a stressful situation for the better.

Lindberg addresses a seldom- discussed facet of courage. To wit, how in a potentially violent situation, these passengers sprang to action intuitively, while others were too numb and terrified to react.

We, the Riflemen, have had similar encounters, vicarious, as well as primary, in our respective tours of duty. Of course, these might have differed from each other in contexts and levels of danger. I invite all to a discussion on a theme that cannot be wished away, and that will challenge all of us at the present time, and in the future.

I hope I have set the tone for a purposeful discussion that might throw up some novel and original ideas.

I have only one request. Please pitch your ideas politely. Please be gentle, even if you cannot be genteel.

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The Unseen ‘Olive Green’ in the Indian Flag …

Posted on May 26, 2018. Filed under: Regimental |

The fourth color in our flag is Olive Green. – Major Gaurav Arya (Veteran) – 17th Battalion, The Kumaon Regiment

It was the summer of 1994 and my Unit, 17 Kumaon was stationed in Suratgarh, Rajasthan. Just as summer was peaking, the local transformer went out one fine night, with a bang.

Fourteen days of hell followed, before they managed to restore the transformer. I remember that in those fourteen days, we would often go to the Officers Mess of 10 Sikh Light Infantry. They had a generator and were fantastic hosts. Other youngsters of my Unit were obsessed with football.

They would watch the game with the concentration of a sniper stalking his prey. I, on the other hand, had no interest in football. I still don’t. For me, a sport was all about riding horses and showjumping. When I was commissioned into the infantry, I understood that from now onwards, I was the horse.

Well, I digress.

On one such sojourn to the 10 Sikh Li mess, I ventured a little further and heard the children of an officer speaking in fluent Punjabi. In the army no one thinks twice about these things and they don’t matter. But outside, it can create a controversy. Well, the officer was a Malyalee. And his children were speaking Punjabi inside the unit Gurudwara. They had come for the langar, as all kids do. Spiritual enlightenment was still decades away, if at all.

We had adventures in the blazing deserts of Rajasthan. Mahajan Field Firing Range, a few hours from Bikaner, was our happy hunting grounds. Field exercises were no fun but when the sun went down, the desert would come alive. Snakes and scorpions found their way into our boots. Yes, we had adventures. Staring at Fort Abbas in Pakistan was how evenings were spent. There were no TV sets there.

Shortly, the Unit moved to Gurdaspur. Punjab, glorious Punjab, with its green fields and hospitality was a stark contrast to the large nothingness of Mahajan. Soon, we settled down.

New to the station, 17 Kumaon was itching to celebrate but the one major Kumaoni festival, Dussehra, was still months away. My Paltan is a pure Kumaoni battalion with 100% Hindu troops from the Kumaon region. Officers, as is true for the entire army, are from all over India. Had it been Dussehra, 17 Kumaon would have been decked up like a bride. There would have been “kaal ratri” on the eve of the big day, a “Mandir Parade” on the following morning, followed by the ritual sacrifice, and then the “shastra pooja”.

The famous Kumaoni “choliya dance” would have followed. Finally before we all went home, we would have the feast…the massive “bara khana” with the mustard-spiked Kumaoni “raita” as the centerpiece. One spoon of that raita would have your scalp tingling like you had a thousand ants crawling on your skull.

But as I said, Dussehra was still months away.

So, Colonel Lincoln Lewis Andrews, YSM (Yudh Sewa Medal), Commanding Officer of 17 Kumaon decreed that we would celebrate Janmashtami with equal fervor. We would show the Brigade HQs what 17 Kumaon was…our spirit, our traditions and our hospitality.

Officers were invited from the Brigade. The Brigade Commander was tied up elsewhere and sent his regrets, but never mind…everyone present would know that the “bhullas” were second to none. “Bhulla” means younger brother in Kumaoni and that is how troops are addressed in my Unit.

The Unit Mandir was spruced up and on the big day, we assembled at 2330 hrs (11:30 pm) at the Mandir. Col Andrews led the Mandir parade, and with the “arti thali” being passed around, the Mandir was soon reverberating with bhajans.

Col Andrews was a boxer, and he sang like one. I was sitting right behind him and had to bear the brunt of his musical talent. But he was the CO and I was then a young Lieutenant. I kept my peace. Another reason I kept my peace was that Capt. RK Anuj, Adjutant of 17 Kumaon, was sitting next to me. He was also my senior subaltern. I had very valid reasons not to air my precious opinion.

17 Kumaon was caught up in the fervor of Janmashtami, and was led from the front by its CO. Whenever the bhajan reached a crescendo, Col Andrews would repeat the lines “Brij mein aayo mere Nand Lala” along with everyone. Suddenly, at 2359 hrs, one minute to midnight, everyone stopped singing.

The Unit Panditji gave a sharp command, “Mandir Parade saavdhan baith”. 17 Kumaon turned into a thousand statues.

Turning to the CO, he saluted and said, “Ram Ram Sahab. Sri Krishna ke janam ki anumati chahta hoon, Shrimaan”. Pandit Ji was asking permission from the CO to allow the birth of Lord Krishna. No one batted an eyelid. This was the Indian Army, after all. Traditions were everything. Izzat. Wafadari. Dastoor.

“Ram Ram, Pandit Ji. Anumati hai”, said the good Colonel, beaming.

A silent signal was given. Far away, half a kilo of plastic explosive went off. The cradle of Lord Krishna was slowly lowered from the ceiling. The hall exploded with bhajans.

It was at 0003 hrs, three minutes past midnight that the Mandir phone rang loudly. The CO was asked to come on the phone. Well, the Brigade Commander basically said that he was back. He had heard so much about the Kumaoni Janmashtami. Would it be possible for him to attend the celebrations?

Col Andrews was a war hero, with a Yudh Sewa Medal in Operation Pawan, Sri Lanka. The LTTE had feared him. But the Brigade Commander’s visit was a bit too much. But what could he do? Lord Krishna had “already been born”.

“You are welcome, Sir”, said Col LL Andrews, his throat obviously dry. There was nothing else to say.

A few minutes later, the Unit Panditji again said, “Mandir parade saavdhan baith”. Marching up to the Brigade Commander, he saluted and smartly said again, “Ram, Ram Sahab. Sri Krishna ke janam ki anumati chahta hoon, Shrimaan”.

This time it was the Brigade Commander who gave permission for the birth of Lord Krishna. The same distant explosion. The same cradle lowered gently.

There was much bonhomie and the “suji ka halwa” prasad was consumed in vast quantities. 17 Kumaon sang bhajans to its heart’s content. Subedar Gopal Singh Soin, the soul of our Mandir functions, raised his right fist and shouted “Kalika Mata ki Jai”. A thousand throats roared the Kumaoni battle cry.

Col. Andrews folded his hands, closed his eyes and whispered “Jai Ram Sarv Shaktiman”. The Mandir Parade was over.

As we stepped outside the Mandir and wore our shoes, I could see Col Andrews chatting with the Brigade Commander. He was beaming with pride.

It was on that day that I learned a valuable lesson. If you are an officer in the Indian Army, the religion you were born into is secondary. The religion of the troops you command is your religion. You live and pray with your men. And when the time comes, you die with them.

When a Hindu officer of the Grenadiers Regiment refuses a cold glass of lemonade on a hot day, because he is fasting for Ramzan, you know you are in the Indian Army. And when all the other officers from different regiments keep down their lemonade glasses in a show of solidarity, it sets you thinking. Who are these men? What are they made of?

I recently tweeted pictures of an Iftar function organized by the army in Kashmir. Trolls reacted the way they mostly do. The Indian Army was accused of minority appeasement, pandering to Muslims, feeding traitors and becoming “sickular”. I was almost made to feel as if the Indian Army was standing for local elections and Muslim votes were critical for electoral victory.

I mostly don’t react to trolls when they fire at me. But this was different. If you don’t speak about the Indian Army with the utmost respect, expect a response from me. No attack will go unanswered.

Much as many people may hate it, the truth is that the Indian Army is both secular and liberal. Yes, the same army that has killed thousands of terrorists, defeated and dismembered Pakistan, stared down China and continues to sacrifice lives everyday in the line of duty. Fret as you may, this is carved in stone and defended by 1.2 million men and women with automatic weapons.

It is not going to change.

Now, about the Iftar in Kashmir. Every Kashmiri Muslim is not a terrorist or a stone pelter. I go to Kashmir frequently. I do claim to have a little sense of what is going on there. There are many who oppose us. There are many who stand with us. And those who stand with us put their lives in peril to do so. They must be defended, whatever the cost. More importantly, they must be respected.

I am all for throwing stone pelters in jail. I am against ceasefire. I would love to see the Hurriyat leadership in prison till the day the sun rises from the North. I celebrate the killing of every terrorist. I am the strongest possible votary for vertical escalation on the Line of Control.

But the fact remains that Kashmir is a war on terror, not a war on the people. Our morality often exacts a price. So be it. We don’t worship Lord Rama because he was a powerful king. He is God because he is “Maryada Purushottam”. He is the most ideal of men. On the first page of the 2018 Indian Army coffee table book, there is full-page painting of Lord Rama. His morality is our compass. This is “dharma”. This is duty.

The Indian Army is not just a powerful army. It is also a moral army.

Politicians and the media have mangled secularism and liberalism beyond belief. Many Indians believe these ideologies to be architects of India’s impending doom. Nothing is further from the truth. Secularism is simply the separation of religion and the state. Liberalism is simply the ability to accept opinions and behavior different from ours. That’s all. In my book, there is no other definition. Our books, should we choose to look carefully, are exactly the same.

The Indian Army is all about what we value most in our life – honour, brotherhood, integrity, loyalty, faith, courage and morality. It is the defender of all that is right. The truth cannot always be defended with a pen, a banner and a candlelight march. Sometimes, it needs a soldier with a gun.

Ask anyone and they will tell you that our national flag has three colors. But it actually has a fourth color, invisible to the eye…look from the deepest recesses of our collective morality and there it is.




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For the Soldier …

Posted on May 26, 2018. Filed under: Regimental, Uncategorized |

Unless You are a Soldier …… by Clive Sanders

Unless you have been a Soldier

You just never will understand

stuff Soldiers have seen and done

In the Service of their beloved Land.

They trained to fight in fearful combat

And cope with awful sounds n sights

that should not be seen by anyone

because they keep you awake nights.

Soldiers never discuss the wounds

On their bodies or in their minds

They just put all their pain behind

And make their memories blind.

Proudly they served their Country

And remember the comrades lost.

For the Freedom you enjoy today,

The lost paid the awesome cost.

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Gen Bhimaya writes on Regimental History …

Posted on May 7, 2018. Filed under: Regimental |

Brig Gen H. Gordon, C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O. the former Commanding Officer of the 2 Leistershire Regiment, (a.k.a. “The Green Tigers”) wrote the “Foreword” to Brig Gen Drake-Brockman’s magnum opus: “With the Royal Garhwal Rifles in the Great War 1914-1917”.

While brevity is the defining characteristic of this foreword, the candor and the sincerity with which Gen Gordon paid tribute to the Regiment in general, and Brig Drake-Brockman in particular, is remarkable. Incidentally, “The Green Tigers” had an opportunity to team up again with 1/18 RGR in Burma (Circa 1941-42)

Although my first reaction was to paraphrase this moving foreword, on second thoughts, I felt that I would be robbing the original of its basic features that extol the virtues of the Garhwali riflemen under extreme adversity.

General Gordon is magnanimous to concede that, during the first battle of Festubert, while his own Battalion got held up under fire, the two Garhwali battalions, ably led by their British officers, accomplished their tasks with great élan.

He also has observed that Garhwalis were hardly known when they arrived in France because they were definitely not an advertising Regiment. (Some argue that the reason Garhwalis wear the lanyard   differently from the other, similarly honored Regiments, (5RGR (FF), for example) was their innate modesty not to advertise their accomplishments.

They did not believe in advertising, because their gallantry in the battlefield was their best advertisement! Officers who are aware of this interpretation may comment on this).

I have, therefore, scanned the “Foreword” and attached it for your reading pleasure.

Comments are welcome, but please be courteous to your brother officers and, of course, follow the Internet Etiquette.

I will be traveling in the next few days. If you don’t hear from me, don’t presume I’m AWOL!

Thank you for your patience.


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Indian Army’s Culture of Excellence …

Posted on April 20, 2018. Filed under: Regimental, Searching for Success |

Despite the ongoing degradation of he Military (read Articles with this heading, in this Blog), there is  the Indian Army’s Culture of Excellence & Integrity – as this small incident highlights –

Three units of the Bombay Sappers of the Indian Army were deployed to construct three, foot over – bridges (FOB) at Elphinstone Road, Mumbai in early 2018. Highlights of the construction of the three bridges are as follows:

  1. The Army completed the three bridges within three months.
  2. Three months include planning, design, tendering, material procurement and meeting all statutory requirements of the Indian Railways.
  3. Work was done only during early mornings from 1 AM to 4 AM breaking the biological clock for the entire 3 months.
  4. The Railways gave no special shut downs as is their practice for all their own works.
  5. The Army did not cut corners in any procedures such as tendering, selection of contractors​, material testing by laboratories authorised by the Railways. There were no deviations from any norms, quality and standard procedures although working under time constraints.
  6. The Army also carried out acquisition of a small piece of land for a staircase adopting standard government procedures.
  7. There were no under the table dealings. Hence, all work was done in the shortest possible time in the face of unhappiness on the part of the Railways who were miffed that the job was snatched away from them.
  8. The Railways did not provide local train passes to the Jawans who commuted daily from their base to site. The Railways agreed to reimburse individually knowing full well that the Army personnel would go back to their units after completing the work.

The Indian Army Engineers (The Bombay Sappers) displayed exemplary organisational capacity, integrated teamwork, very high standard of integrity both professional and moral and leadership par excellence.

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‘Bull’ Sheru Negi Goes – Apr 12 …

Posted on April 15, 2018. Filed under: Regimental |

 Thank you Gen Bhimaya for correcting me re Brig LS Negi, who was also a RIMCO  ….
If you recall The Regimental 75th Raising Anniversary in 1962 celebrated when you were Adjutant at the Center, you had housed us youngsters in the Barrack like house below No3 – where there is a small Cemetery just across the road. Those were the times of the 1962 War and there was lots of machismo. So much so that after the usual bravado and bonhomie there was a right royal fist fight involving ND, Self and several others – and then comes in Bull Negi and knocks all of us out cold – and — Peace!
Bull was 16th NDA King Sqn which possibly had the finest ever Sqn Cdr – the Great Chandan Singh VrC in ’62, MVC in 71 – who was a Div Cdr in Able when Gen Bhimaya’s 10th passed out. Well even he could not help BULL – whom he loved no end – from getting relegated for academics!
Bull was the type who would come to Pune from Bombay, borrow a friends motor bike and call him from Bombay next day saying the Bike was lying in a Ditch under a culvert – And No Qs asked. Such were his friends who loved him dearly.
Along  with DP, ND, RP, H Ali, Sudesh Bhasin, Doc Sunderam from the Regimental Center n Jojo SenGupta and his AC Crowd and Eli Mirzoeff from Bombay, he attended my marriage in my wife’s dusty decrepit village near Patiala.
And then when my wife and I were housed in a single room in a Barrack – which also housed Brig Bunty Quin – in the Pune RSI, we come back once from a walk in Main St – and what do we see – Bull Negi  dead drunk n fully sprawled on our two beds! And no way was he going to awake! So we pull out some sheets and sleep in the covered verandah!
And on the day our daughter was born, after I drop my wife in the MH, who drops in out of the blue – but Sultan Mal Charupa, !st Course JSW, who needs to be dropped to the Station — followed by Bull and Amrik, who stop me from going to the MH around 2pm when I receive news that my wife has delivered a Baby girl, saying that I would not be allowed to see my wife till at least 6pm – since Amrik is an experienced hand.
And when I do go at 6pm, my wife begins to cry and accuses me of every thing under the sun; my wonderful friends quietly abandon ship and make a quiet get away!
But one must respect space and time.
Those days there were those evil things called promotion exams. The Retention needed a Bottle of Scotch – Parts A n C needed cozying up to the Examiner n Parts B n D needed some writing. Now Bull and Part D became born enemies – specially the subject of Mil History. Even if you gave Bull a book with the needed answer highlighted, he would Not Copy it but write what his opinion was on the subject!
To show the spirit of the times – Once in S Command the COS was Gen Kabraji, who one day called all officers during the Tea Break and showed them a Part D Answer Sheet which had written on it in bold Letters – “HELP HELP LAST CHANCE” And Gen Kabraji thundered, “This Officer has Faith in the System and I am going to PASS HIM”. 
Dear Bull was not That Lucky – but I should say he was More Lucky than Most of Us!  Because he and his wonderful wife Founded a School and made it BIGGER n BIGGER with lots n lots of Greenery n a Huge Main Building for a strength of over 1500 kids ………  n made a Beautiful House with a Pagoda Style Roof – again with lots of Greenery.
And Guess who was the Patron of this Brazenly Big School —
None other than the Dear Wonderful DP – who tried his utmost to make BULL a CO of the FOURTH.
But Bull became something BIGGER ….  GOD BLESS HIM n HIS WONDERFUL FAMILY!!!
Have a Ball Up There, Old Chap – sure as hell, we all will be joining You Sooner or Later – keep some seats empty near you – and the Hell with the RIPs sent you …..
And here is Gen Bhimaya …
I am sorry, indisposition and senility came in the way of doing full justice to what Bert entrusted me: an eulogy to the Late Sheru (Bull) Negi.
I am glad you came to my rescue and filled in the readers with an elegant piece that was moving, comprehensive and, of course, brief, with the soul of wit. I am not sure whether readers would appreciate our banter, but I shall risk it.
Yes, I do remember you and Dhasmana showing up at the Parade Ground–you with a side cap that ill-concealed the bruises, and Dhasmana trying to play hide and seek.
Some of us were products of a culture that, arguably, recognized bars in the officers’ messes as  great learning centers – even if you did not drink. Those were the places, where you recalled regimental episodes (even apocryphal), let the steam out, settled scores arising out of the day’s turbulent interactions, and shook hands when you tottered out of the mess for a good night’s sleep.
The spirit is encapsulated in your words: “and then comes in Bull Negi and knocks all of us out cold – and — Peace!”
Times have changed, and I suppose, they should.
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1971 War – Sam Manekshaw, Kim Yadav, Krishna Menon …

Posted on March 27, 2018. Filed under: From a Services Career, Personalities, Regimental |

A sordid Story which began when Gen Thimayya was Chief and Nehru’s blue eyed Defense Minister – VK Krishna Menon began to under cut and humiliate the Chief in order to pave the way for the rise of the Kashmiri ASC Gen BM Kaul – a distant cousin of the PM.

The Story starts when the Defense Minister visits Maj Gen Sam Manekshaw who was GOC 26 Div and tries to enlist him against his own Chief – Gen Thimayya. Sam of course refuses point blank and thereby begins to  dig his own grave.

This is the cause de terre for the enquiry which was initiated against Sam a year or so later when he was Commandant of the Staff College.

The principle witness against Sam in the enquiry against him was a close colleague and friend – then Col – later Brigadier – Kim Yadav who happened to be the the first CO of a very dear course mate and friend, who vouches his elan and professionalism. Kim was, indeed, an outstanding officer, who was for a while, ADC to Lord Louis Mountbatten.

Years later when Sam took over Western Command where Brig Kim Yadav  was Commanding a Brigade, Sam heard some officers in the Mess, in hushed tones belittling Brig Yadav. Turning to them he says, “Gentlemen, Brig Kim Yadav professionally is  head and shoulders above most of you – all he lacks is character”.

The late PKK Raju, a Rimcollian, was present with the FIFTH when it was part of Kim Yadav’s Brigade and used to narrate this exercise which most every one thought was to fix Kim. This seemed  more so Sam as Army Commander himself attended.

The brigade had performed pretty well and Sam went up for his Summing Up, most every one thought that Sam would now tear apart Kim. But Sam went to the podium, looked round and spoke just one sentence before he shook the Commanders’ hand. He had said was that were he himself commanding the brigade, he could not have done better!

And at the end of the 1971 war, Kim Yadav sent a telegram to Sam, ‘You seem to have won the war all by yourself – without any help from me! My Congratulations’.

Those were the Days and these were the Guys.

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