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Dr. Omkar Nath Wakhlu


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THE UNWAVERING WILL

THE UNWAVERING WILL


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Despite losing more than a score of men, Rajasthan Rifles soldiers yearn to go to the front

Heat-sapped Delhi wore a shroud of grief as soldiers' coffins arrived. Yet the mood was far from sombre at the Rajputana Rifles Regimental Centre at the Delhi Cantonment, which to date, had lost 28 soldiers in the current conflict. Chests swelled in pride as the 200 soldiers of the Raj Rif family awaited orders to join their mates at the front.


In combat mode: Commandant P.S. Choudhury of the Rajputana Rifles with his jawans
Rajputana is the oldest rifle regiment in the Indian army, and it recaptured Point 4590, Three Pimples, Knoll and Lone Hill in the current conflict. Its 2nd battalion earned a special award from Gen. V.P. Malik for its "meritorious and gallant performance during the battle of Point 4590". However, in the course of these victories Rajputana Rifles had lost 5 officers, 3 JCOs and 20 jawans.

"I have always wanted to join the Raj Rif," said Rifleman Ramesh Kumar. Most riflemen are just out of their teens. "They are men of steel," said Commandant P.S. Choudhury. A battle-hardened veteran, Choudhury has won a Sena medal and three commendations from the Army chief.

Honours are nothing new for the Rajputana Rifles, which won the first Victoria Cross of the Indian Army in 1856. After Independence it participated in Operation Blue Star, IPKF operations in Sri Lanka and a number of counter-insurgency operations.

Raj Rif's first Param Vir Chakra came in 1947-48 after battling Pathan raiders in Kashmir. It also won 2 Mahavir Chakras and 14 Vir Chakras.

The regiment comprises mainly Jats and Rajputs with a sprinkling of Gujjars, Ahirs and Muslims from Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. Its motto, before independence was Cele-et-Audax (swift and bold), which was common to all rifle regiments. Now it is Vir Bhogya Vasundhara (the brave shall inherit the earth).

In 1971, the 7th Raj Rif battalion won the Battle of Mynamati capturing impregnable Mynamati ridge in one night at the cost of 36 soldiers' lives.

Raj Rif has also proved its mettle in peace time. In 1977 when floods threatened to engulf the capital, it raised a 1200-foot-long bund to hold back the flood waters. It marches on unwavering in spirit.


COURTESY:THE WEEK
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Date: 09.09.2004 03:23
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