First battalion of Indian Gorkhas is born

CHANDIGARH: The Army has turned over a new leaf by raising a new Gorkha battalion comprising entirely of Gorkha troops of Indian domicile.

First battalion of Indian Gorkhas is born

Troops of the newly raised 6th Battalion of the First Gorkha Rifles along with senior officers at the 14 Gorkha Training Centre in Sabathu. A Tribune photograph

Vijay Mohan

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 2

The Army has turned over a new leaf by raising a new Gorkha battalion comprising entirely of Gorkha troops of Indian domicile. Traditionally, the majority of troops in Gorkha regiments belong to Nepal.

This is the first Gorkha battalion to have come up in 50 years. The new battalion, the Sixth Battalion of the First Gorkha Rifles (6/1GR), christened “Kanchi Paltan”, has been raised at Sabathu in the Shivalik foothills near Shimla, that houses the 14 Gorkha Training Centre.

In 1815, the British had raised the first Gorkha battalion, 1/1 GR, from the remnants of General Amar Singh Thapa’s forces following the Gurkha War fought between the Gorkha kings of Nepal and British East India Company.

Col Avaneesh Chambial is the battalion’s first Commanding Officer. The recruits for the battalion had been undergoing training at the centre for the past nine months and the battalion’s regimental flag was unfurled by the Colonel of the First Gorkha Rifles, Lt Gen Ravi Thogde, at a ceremonial parade on Friday.

The Army has several Gorkha regiments — 1GR, 3GR, 4GR, 5GR, 8GR, 9GR and 11 GR. The stipulated ratio of composition of these regiments between Nepalese and Indian domicile Gorkhas is about 70:30. In some units it is 60:40.

The Army’s plans are that each Gorkha regiment will raise an additional battalion in due course as part of the approved force accretions and the ongoing organisational restructuring.

A senior officer said more Gorkhas of Indian domicile i.e. those settled in the hilly regions of northern India and the North-East and even other parts of the country would be recruited and Gorkha regiments were envisioned to have a pan-India footprint. The minimum educational qualification for Gorkha troops was also being raised from matriculation to Class XII.

Three years ago, the Army had raised the Sikkim Scouts comprising locally recruited youth from the state for deployment in the border regions. The unit has been affiliated with 11 GR.

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