16 Bihar Regiment – The Killer Machines

वह कौन रोता है वहाँ- इतिहास के अध्याय पर,
जिसमें लिखा है, नौजवानों के लहू का मोल है
प्रत्यय किसी बूढे, कुटिल नीतिज्ञ के व्यवहार का;

जिसका हृदय उतना मलिन जितना कि शीर्ष वलक्ष है;
जो आप तो लड़ता नहीं, कटवा किशोरों को मगर,
आश्वस्त होकर सोचता, शोणित बहा,

लेकिन, गयी बच लाज सारे देश की?

June 15th night, when entire India was sleeping in the midst of long COVID war; on the northern border of Ladakh’s Galwan valley, there were 20 braves who were facing severe winter, low oxygen and a cunning rival. The enemy had encroached taking advantage of existing peace on the border for years. They shed their blood but did not allow mother India’s head hang in shame. With the war cry of Jai Bajrang Bali and Birsa Munda Ki Jai, they kept fighting till their last breath. Who were these Bhagat Singh’s of India? Come let us know about them.

Expanding his empire to the borders of Persia, in 305 B.C Chandragupta Maurya defeated an invasion by Seleucus I Nicator, a Greek contender for control of Alexander’s Asian empire. The defeated the Greek army impressed with Biharis (then Magadh) fighting skills, begged him to give them some good war-ready elephants for using in their other European wars. He was humble enough and gave 500 elephants with battle-ready mahawats to be settled in Europe. These 1000 Bihari mahawats (elephant jockeys) later contributed to the demographic lineage there. This land of Bihar since ancient times till recent Galwan skirmishes have always fought valiantly for their motherland, which is Bharat now, with zero recognition due to the stereotyping of the state, unfortunately.

How many Indian’s knew about the Veer Bihar regiment before Galwan? For most, army valor and building blocks were Sikh, Gurkha, Jat, Rajputana rifles, Madras Regiment only. Not that they are not, but not knowing about the Bihar regiment has been a big omission both by media and the people of this land. This article will try to remove some of the cobwebs of Bharat and will see how the brave young Ghatak also nicknamed the Killer machine; broke some 18 of the 43 rival soldiers neck just like a small bird, after their father figure Commanding Officer, Col Santosh Kumar from Telangana was cowardly ambushed. It’s never late to know about these braves and the place of their birth.

The martial tradition of Bihar troops in the era of British rule traces its origins to the 34th sepoy battalion raised in 1757 by Lord Robert Clive of the British East India Company at Patna. The battalion was formed by men entirely from the Bhojpur (Arrah) district. Later battalions recruited from the entire Shahabad area (the present-day districts of Bhojpur, Buxar, Rohtas & Kaimur in Bihar). This belt had reasonably taller and stronger people with well-built physical bodies. Their success in combat impressed Mir Kasim, the Nawab of Bengal from 1760 to 1763, who began raising units trained in western combat techniques. Bihari battalions raised by Mir Kasim defeated the British in some engagements. The Bihari, or Purbiya, soldiers thereafter made up the backbone of the Bengal Infantry of the British Colonial Army.

They were not only excellent soldiers but also quick to learn and apply the tactical drills with initiative. They were disciplined force till treated professionally, but capable of hostility when their religious beliefs and customs were disregarded. The Indian Rebellion of 1857 against the introduction of greased cartridges (thought to be done so with a mixture of beef and pork fat—abhorrent to Hindus and Muslims), was led by Bihari troops, who preferred being blown by the guns, then to losing their faith! No doubt their war cry is Jai Bajrang Bali and Birsa Munda ki Jai.

Thereafter, Biharis were not encouraged to enter military service by the British until after World War I. Unfortunately, this allegedly continued post-independence and most of the NDA officers slowly started coming from outside Bihar forcing the talented youth of the state to go for the civil services reducing the number of officers that should have come from this regiment from Bihar. This trend needs to change for the betterment of the region and India, as NDA needs more of Ghatak type young and talented officers to break the certain defensive mindset of the current top officer brass. Galwan has shown what they can do at the infantry level.

The Bihar Regiment was formed in 1941 during World War II by regularizing the 11th (Territorial) Battalion, 19th Hyderabad Regiment as the 1st Battalion Bihar Regiment. The 2nd Battalion was raised in 1942. The Bihar Regiment is an Indian Army infantry regiment. It traces its origins back to the British Indian Army. The Bihar Regimental Centre (BRC) is located at Danapur Cantonment, Patna, the second 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 also distinguishes itself by having the highest number of Rashtriya Rifles battalions (4 battalions: 4RR, 24RR, 47RR, 63RR) among all regiments of the Indian Army.

During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, 7 Bihar captured Bedori, paving the way for the capture of Haji Pir Pass. By the start of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, the Regiment had expanded to 11 battalions. The sixth, seventh, eighth, tenth and eleventh battalions participated in operations in the eastern sector. 10 Bihar was conferred the theatre honor ‘East Pakistan’ for the capture of Akhaura.

On 15 December 1971, a seaborne expedition was launched at Cox’s Bazar to prevent Pakistani troops from escaping into Burma. 11 Bihar formed part of this amphibious task force. In the Western theatre of the war, 3 Bihar captured Wanjal.

In the Spring of 1999, Pakistani soldiers posing as Kashmiri militants crossed the Line of Control (LoC) in Kargil and entered Indian territory. Operation Vijay was launched by the Indian Army to flush out the intruders. More than 10,000 soldiers and officers of the Bihar Regiment were deployed to Kargil. In a well-planned operation in the Batalik sector, soldiers of 1 Bihar, in a fierce fight with the Pakistan Army, captured Point 4268 and Jubar Ridge in the Kuker Thang area in the Batalik sector on the night 06/7 July 1999. Some of the expedition this regiment performed are mentioned below.

  • Burma Campaign, World War II
  • Operation Zipper, World War II
  • Indo-Pakistan War of 1947
  • Indo-Pakistan War of 1965
  • Indo-Pakistan War of 1971
  • UNOSOM (Somalia)
  • Kargil War
  • MONUC (Congo)
  • Insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir
  • 2020 China–India Galwan Valley skirmishes

On the night of 15 June 2020, soldiers of 16 Bihar Regiment fought with soldiers of China at Galwan Valley, in Ladakh. Twenty Indian soldiers were killed. In the counter-attack following the killing of their commanding officer Colonel B Santosh Babu by Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops in Ladakh’s Galwan valley, the jawans of 16 Bihar regiment, using the most “primitive fighting methods”, snapped the necks of at least 18 PLA troops and smashed their faces beyond recognition.

The jawans of 16 Bihar were reportedly joined by the ‘Ghatak’ troops. Together, they “unleashed a reign of terror, unheard in modern military history. 20 deaths were revenged with 43 rival army men which later increased to 100* from the unconfirmed American intelligence source. Using the most “primitive fight methods” ever, Indian soldiers, who launched the most brutal counter-attack against the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Galwan valley snapping the necks of at least 18 Chinese soldiers and smashing their faces with stones, some beyond recognition.

Inputs from multiple sources suggested that the PLA had a tough time handling the bodies of their soldiers, many of whose limbs were broken or severed. The bodies were scattered all over the ridge and the nearby gorge. The “primitive fighting methods” by the Indian troops using stones, sticks, and bayonets against the enemy indicated that the soldiers were merciless in their attack the moment their commanding officer fell. This against a rival claiming to be No #2 superpower of the world with five times bigger economy.

Initially, over 60 of them charged towards the PLA soldiers and launched a counterattack. Minutes later, as the word spread about the CO’s death, the Bihar Regiment is said to have been joined by the Ghatak troops, who are experts in close-quarter battle. Together, they chased down at least 18 PLA soldiers. Our soldiers too were attacked brutally but the counter-attack by Indian troops was as brutal as it could get, sources said adding that the soldiers were chanting war cries as they avenged the death of their CO. As the attack and counter-attack went on for over four hours, a few soldiers snatched the swords and rods from the Chinese PLA troops and used it against them.

Sources said that many PLA soldiers tried to escape to the nearby mountains and the soldiers who were chasing them ended up in the custody of PLA as their troops had multiplied, five times in number. They were among those who were released the next day. The Indian troops had reportedly unleashed a reign of terror, unheard of in modern military history. Thanks to the 16 Bihar regiment, India slept well. Later after 2 weeks, 16 Bihar regiment was replaced by 1 Bihar regiment as they had finished their quota of 3 months of deployment on the active border, and the SOP needed them to be deployed to the peaceful region.

The war is not over, PoK, Arunachal, and Ladhak will continue to simmer and for that Indian army needs to recruit some 50 Lakhs Biharis as new scouts who can be used both for the army fulfillment as the need may arise and also be used in the manufacturing plants which should be set up in the UP and Bihar region post-COVID. The large youth population of this region can be used to work in the factory setup with more discipline and strength imparted by the regiment’s scout training. If prosperity is not brought to the cow belt region in spite of the supreme sacrifices by their young ones, then it will be a huge disrespect for the martyrs. I will end with the Ramdhari Singh Dinkar’s poem.

और तब सम्मान से जाते गिने
नाम उनके, देश-मुख की लालिमा
है बची जिनके लुटे सिन्दूर से;
देश की इज्जत बचाने के लिए
या चढा जिसने दिये निज लाल हैं।

रक्त से सिंच कर समर की मेदिनी
हो गयी है लाल नीचे कोस-भर,
और ऊपर रक्त की खर धार में
तैरते हैं अंग रथ, गज, बाजि के।

किन्तु, इस विध्वंस के उपरान्त भी

शेष क्या है? व्यंग ही तो भग्य का?

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गरदन पर किसका पाप वीर! ढोते हो ?
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