Bihar Ex Servicemen Association praises the gallant of Bihari Soldiers, lauds state support to Ladakh Martyr families

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By Kumari Swati

Patna: In one of the bloodiest stand-off ever between the armies of India and China India lost 20 of its gallant soldiers from the 16th Battalion of the Bihar Regiment in a cowardly act of Chinese army on june 16 whereas the brave Biharis (as the soldiers of Bihar regiment are addressed) inflicted a much larger number of casualty on their adversaries numbering at least 43 deaths and approx 200 serious injuries along the LAC in Ladakh’s Galwan valley. Though the Chinese government has so far been evasive of confessing the damage to avoid international embarrassment, it has been in news all over since the day of incident and China and its army has been criticized all across.  

Major Vikas Singh (Retd), an Ex officer of Bihar Regiment and Secretary of Bihar Ex Servicemen Association (Officers) recalls his memories of serving with his regiment and emphasizes that Bihar Regiment is one of the finest regiments of Indian Army and has held the pride of the nation high at every given occasion. The brave Biharis serving with the 16th Battalion of the Bihar Regiment in Galwan valley have proved that they possess the grit and skills like no other army in the world and can make the enemy bite the dust in any kind of situation or terrain, with or without weapon. The incident in Galwan valley is probable the most unique that led to at least 63 cumulative casualties in a so called Un-Armed Battle. 

However, this incident has once again highlighted the gut and the fighting spirit of the gallant soldiers of Bihar regiment and Biharis as a martial race. Following the great spirits of its war heroes-Babu Veer Kunwar Singh and Bhagwan Birsa Munda, the Veer Biharis have killed double the number of adversaries who conspired and managed to kill the 20 brave soldiers including Col Santosh Babu, CO of 16th Bihar. They proved that no conspiracy of Chinese can withstand the gallantry of Biharis. Chinese would not be able to forget this incident for long long time.

Remembering Col Santosh Babu, CO 16 Bihar Major Vikas Singh (Retd) says that he was one of the finest soldier, a responsible office and a gentleman to the core. During the standoff with the Chinese troops Col Santosh Babu has acted in keeping with the finest traditions of Indian army of leading from front. The Tiger (as the Commanding officer is addressed to) has actually illustrated the word and lived in conformity with the Chetwode credo that says- “The safety, honour and welfare of your country come first, always and every time. The honour, welfare and comfort of the men you command come next. Your own ease, comfort and safety come last, always and every time”. Martyrdom of Col Babu is a matter of extreme pride for the battalion, the regiment and the nation as a whole, at the same time it is a great loss for all, he added 

Talking about the regiment, Maj Vikas Singh (Retd) told that history of Bihar Regiment traces its origins back to the days of the British East India Company, which raised the ‘Bengal Native Infantry’ as a force. Despite being the youngest, it surpassed others in its valour and strength. It is to be noted with pride that the Biharis were much sought after by the East India Company. In fact, the 34th Sepoy Battalion formed during the tenure of Lord Robert Clive in 1758, was raised entirely from Bhojpur district. Similarly, the district of Shahabad and Munger were their other favourite recruitment areas. Their victories at home including those of Buxar, Karnatic and Maratha Wars and their laurels at Malaya, Sumatra and Egypt too were praiseworthy. During the first war of Independence (1857), the Bihari troops were the first to revolt against the introduction of greased cartridges and preferred being blown by the guns than to losing their faith. Similar was the fate of Sepoy Mangal Pandey. From the state two heroes emerged who fought against the British rule i.e Babu Kunwar Singh and Birsa Munda. Realising the potential and clear threat to their existence, as a policy the Britishers thereafter disbanded all eighteen Bihar battalions and ensured that no recruitment of Bihari’s was done by the British. Later in 1941, The Bihar Regiment was formed by regularizing the 11th (Territorial) Battalion, the 19th Hyderabad Regiment, and raising new battalions. The regiment takes extreme pride in The Bihar Regimental Centre (BRC) that is located at Danapur Cantonment, Patna and is known for being the oldest cantonment of India. INS Vikramaditya, the Indian Navy’s largest ship and its sole aircraft carrier is affiliated to the Bihar Regiment, Indian Army’s highly-decorated and battle-hardened unit. The regiment has 20 regular infantry battalions and 2 Territorial Battalions, The Bihar regiment also distinguishes itself by having the highest number of Rastriya Rifles battalions (4 battalions: 4RR, 24RR, 47RR, 63RR) among all regiments of the Indian Army. 

Bihar regiment has proudly participated in Burma Campaign and the Operation Zipper during the World War II, Indo-Pakistan War of 1947, Indo-Pakistan War of 1965, Indo-Pakistan War of 1971, United Nations Operation in Somalia, Kargil War, United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and continuously in the Counter Insurgency operation and the Border deployment in Jammu and Kashmir and the North Eastern Part of India. The nation can never forget the gallant act of Bihari Soldiers in the wars of 1947, 1965, 1971, the Kargil war and the most recent surgical strike inside POK.

The glorious history of the regiment is decorated with so many gallantry awards. In Pre-Independence era Bihar regiment has got 7 Distinguished Service Order (DSO ), 8 Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), 5 Military Cross (MC), 6 Order of British India (OBI) and 9 Military Medal (MM). In its Post Independence operations the Regiment has been awarded  7 Ashoka Chakra (AC), 35 Param Vishisht Seva Medal (PVSM) , 9 Maha Vir Chakra (MVC), 21 Kirti Chakra (KC), 49 Ati Vishisht Seva Medal (AVSM ), 49 Vir Chakra (VrC ), 70 Shaurya Chakra (SC), 9 Yudh Seva Medal (YSM),448 Sena Medal (SM), 7 Jivan Rakshak Padak, 42 Vishisht Seva Medal (VSM) and 45 Mention in Despatches. The regiment continues to add to its glorious heritage with each passing day and every act of gallantry ads to a golden page of the rich history of the Bihar Regiment.

Major Vikas said that as part of the Bihar Regiment fraternity he takes extreme pride in the gallant act of fellow soldiers and emphasized that Bihar Ex Servicemen Association will continue to match the motivation when it comes to serves those who served the nation. He also thanked the government of Bihar and Sri Nitish Kumar, Honorable Chief Minister for the forthcoming support to the martyrs. This is the first time government has offered Rs 25 Lakhs of financial assistance from Chief Ministers Relief Fund in addition to Rs 11 lakhs Ex Gratia and government job to the close dependent of each martyr. He said that such support from the state government is unprecedented and the state government must continue to look after the soldiers welfare in a similar encouraging manner to motivate more and more youth to join the defence services and serve the nation. Among the fallen brave soldiers Chandan Kumar of Bhojpur, Jai Kishor Singh of Vaishali, Aman Kumar Singh of Samstipur, Kundan Kumar of Saharsa and Sunil Kumar of Patna Bihta were residents of Bihar and their families would be supported by this help from the government of Bihar.

While thanking the Honorable Chief Minister and the state government, Major Vikas Singh (Retd) also took the opportunity to reiterate the long pending demand of BESA for a war memorial in Bihar. Despite of having the largest contribution of Bihar in Indian army, Bihar unfortunately doesn’t have a war memorial till date. Despite of the fact that there are more than a lakh soldiers from Bihar presently serving in Indian army the state is yet to address this essential requirement. He requested the government of Bihar to dedicate a prime location spot and construct a state of the art war memorial in honor of all the martyrs of Bihar and added that Martyrs don’t die due to the injuries in the battle field, They die when they are forgotten. 

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