Jammu and Kashmir Rifles

The Jammu and Kashmir Rifles is an infantry regiment of the Indian Army. The Jammu and Kashmir State Forces were the only former Princely State Forces of India to be absorbed into the Indian Army as a distinct and separate Regiment. In 1963, the designation was changed to Jammu and Kashmir Rifles. After the conversion, the Ladakh Scouts came under the aegis of the Regiment, where it remained until raised as a separate Regiment in 2002.[2]

History[edit]

The Jammu and Kashmir Rifles has a unique regimental history. Its antecedents go back to the Dogra Corps raised by intrepid Raja Gulab Singh of Jammu in 1821, under the suzerainty of Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Sikh Empire. General Zorawar Singh led daredevil campaigns in northern areas like Ladakh, Baltistan, Gilgit, Hunza and Yagistan, consolidating smaller principalities and making the northern areas a part of the expanding dominions of Gulab Singh. He also mounted a breath-taking invasion of Tibet in 1841.

After the establishment of Jammu and Kashmir as independent princely state under the British Paramountcy in 1846, these troops became the Jammu and Kashmir State Forces.

The Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir maintained a larger number of State Forces than any other ruler of an Indian State under the British Raj. These forces were organized into the Jammu and Kashmir Brigades. They comprised a bodyguard cavalry regiment, two mountain batteries, seven infantry battalions, one training battalions and a transport unit consisting of both pack and mechanized transport. Several of these units served with distinction on the North-West Frontier of India and overseas during the Great War.[2] The state forces fought as Imperial Service Troops in both the First and Second World Wars (under their own native officers). They distinguished themselves in East Africa, Palestine and Burma.

Kashmir War of 1947

The regiment's grimmest hour came during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947. It was their heroic stand that gained time for the entry of the Indian Army and thus saved the Kashmir Valley. It may not be out of place to mention that the Indian people largely owe the State of Jammu and Kashmir to the heroic defensive stand made by the outnumbered and ill-equipped, but highly motivated, J&K State Force. They paid a steep price in blood and sacrificed over 76 officers, 31 JCOs and 1085 Other Ranks. For their gallant stand they earned three Maha Vir Chakra, 20 Vir Chakras and 52 Mentioned in Despatches. Later the Jammu and Kashmir State Force was absorbed en bloc into the Indian Army as a separate regiment.

Sino-Indian War of 1962

Two battalions of Jammu and Kashmir Rifles constituted the main fighting force of India in Aksai Chin during the Sino-Indian War of 1962. Supplemented by a battalion of the regular Indian Army, they fought "very well" according to scholar Steven Hoffman. China attacked them with a massive force of an entire division.

UN Peacekeeping Operations

A Jammu and Kashmir Rifles battalion was part of the UN force in Cambodia during 1990–93.[2]

Recruitment

Much of the Army's Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry and Jammu and Kashmir Rifles Regiments are made of recruits from the districts of Jammu, Samba, Kathua, Udhampur, and Reasi, while other districts like Poonch, Rajouri, Doda and Kishtwar also contribute .[2] Soldiers from Himachal Pradesh,Punjab and South Haryana also contribute to the ranks.

Units

In 1947, the force had 9 infantry battalions and a cavalry regiment. It was subsequently raised to 21 battalions. The 16th Battalion has been reassigned as 14th Battalion of the Mechanised Infantry Regiment

Battle honours

•Defence of Chitral

•The Great War: Megiddo, Sharon, Nablus, Palestine 1918, Kilimanjaro, Beho Beho, East Africa 1914–17

•The Second World War: Kennedy Peak, Defence of Meiktila, Burma 1942–45

•Punch, Skardu, Jammu and Kashmir 1947–48, Battle of Asal Uttar, Punjab 1965

•1971: Shyam Ganj, East Pakistan 1971

•Point 5140, 4875, Rocky Knob during Kargil War 1999.

Note: Pre-1948 honours inherited from several battalions of Kashmir State Forces.