Raised on 30 July, 1846, as the XIV Ferozepore Sikhs under the British, the Indian Army’s Sikh Regiment, celebrated its 175 years of its raising. Many such celebratory events are planned for the rest of the year. Incidentally, the 1 Sikh (XIV Ferozepore Sikhs), which has now transformed into 4 Mech (4 Mechanised Infantry), is the most-decorated Battalion in the Commonwealth.
The raising of the 1 Sikh on 30 July was followed by that of 2 Sikh, known as the XV Regiment of Loodhiana, on 1 August, 1846. While every year, the Raising Day is celebrated on 30 July, it got delayed this year because of operational reasons.
The Regiment has been faced many major battles and wars including World War I & II, the Afghan Wars and the Burma Campaigns. In each of these, the Sikh regiment has distinguished itself in every battle fought.
Soon after Independence, the battalion earned the moniker ‘Saviours of the Valley’, as it became the first battalion to be airlifted to Srinagar, on 27 October, 1947, to counter the raiders launched by Pakistan to capture Jammu and Kashmir. The battalion was also part of the Sino-Indian War in 1962, the Indo-Pakistani wars of 1965 and 1971, and the Kargil War of 1999.
However, one of the fiercest battles that they have been known for is the ‘Battle of Saragarhi’, fought between the British and Afghan tribesmen, where the Sikh Battalion kept advancing, even while being engaged in intense fighting, on 19 November 1897. It is still regarded as the bravest battle, which displayed the battalion’s raw courage, following the principle of “last man- last round”.
The regiment was the first unit to be airlifted not just to Srinagar in 1947, but also to Kurdistan in 1923 to quell a rebellion there. The regiment was the first Battalion to be Awarded a Battle Honour post Independence (Srinagar) and was the only Param Vir Chakra to be awarded in the eastern sector during Sino Indian Conflict of 1962. The Sikh Regiment was the first unit to have been bestowed with the Honour of The “Bravest of The Brave” by the Chief of Army Staff on 15 January 1997.
(By Tenzin Zompa, the Print)