The Sikh Regiment
The Sikh Regiment is one of the oldest and highest decorated Regiments of the Indian Army. The Regimental Centre is located at Ramgarh, South Bihar. With 73 Battle Honours, the largest collection of Victoria Crosses-Param Vir Chakras and equivalent, the Saga of Saragarhi, the young soldiers of the Sikh Regiment are proud to wear the regimental colours of India’s highest decorated regiment. Since it’s raising more than 150 years ago, the regiment has been in the vanguard of various actions and operations both in the pre and post-independence era in India and abroad.
Maharaja Ranjit Singh brought the well built and courageous people of the then Punjab to "Khalsa Panth" and formed "Khalsa Army". Following numerous heroic and valiant battles by the Khalsa Army, XIV Ferozepur (1 Sikh, now 4 Mechanised Infantry), and XV Ludhiana (2 Sikh) were raised from the soliders of the vanquished force on August 1, 1846. The history of the Sikh Regiment has been replete with examples of gallant soldiering and supreme sacrifice. "It is the highest decorated Regiment of the Indian Army as reported in the Defence Review Annual 1995-96" says Brig R Sharma, the Commandant of the Sikh Regimental Centre.
In September 1897, 4 Sikh was deployed in Khanki valley on Samana ridge in North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) in Pakistan. During those days, 4 Sikh was known as XXXVI Sikh of the British Indian Army. The battalion, deployed in two groups, occupied Fort Lockhart with picquets at Dar, Sartope, Sangar, Carg and Saragarhi. Amongst all the piquets, Saragarhi was the most important one due to its position on the highest point between Fort Lockhart and Gulistan. Twentyone soldiers, under the command of Hav Ishar Singh, held the Saragarhi piquet.
To separate Fort Gulistan and Lockhart, 10000 Orakzai and Afridi Lashkars attacked Saragarhi on September 12, 1897 at daybreak. The attack was initially rebutted with the enemy sustaining a loss of over 60 killed. Lt Col J Haughton, the then Commanding Officer, took all efforts to hold Saragarhi. However, the battalion was forced to retreat initially as the enemy repeatedly attacked Saragarhi. Without losing heart, the Sikhs did not move back from the fort. One Sepoy took control of the guardroom and shot down not less than 20 enemies, before tribesmen set the guardroom on fire and burnt him to death. By about 3 pm, men and ammunition ran short and the assailants destroyed the battalion post by putting it on fire. Thus, the brave Sikhs killed 450 tribesmen before making the supreme sacrifice.
On receiving the news, British Parliament interrupted the proceedings and gave standing ovation to the Saragarhi Braves. Each hero was awarded an Indian Order of Merit (IOM), the highest award given to an Indian soldier in British Indian Army for valour and sacrifice. Altogether, 21 IOMs were awarded in one day, a record of the sort. The battle of Saragarhi gave the concept of "last man, last round". Now, September 12 is celebrated as "Saragarhi Day" by all the battalions of the elite Sikh Regiment. unesco recognises this battle as one among eight battles of the world known for collective bravery.
The fourth battalion of the Sikh Regiment celebrated the 107th anniversary of the battle of Saragarhi in 2004 at its location somewhere in Central Sector. On this occasion, the battle of saragarhi was enacted by the battalion as a highlight of the two-day celebrations. Presiding over the sainik sammelan, Col SC Panwar, Commanding Officer of the battalion underlined the incidents associated with the battle. Earlier, martyrs of the battalion were paid homage at a wreath-laying ceremony held at the battalion war memorial. Gurudwara service, a variety entertainment programme, adventurous sports and a social evening added colour to the celebrations.
In all, the Regiment has to its credit 1652 gallantry awards and honours including 10 Victoria Cross, two Param Vir Chakra, 14 Maha Vir Chakra and 68 Vir Chakra. In addition it has also earned 73 battle honours and 38 theatre honours besides four COAS Unit Citation (including the one bestowed upon 8 Sikh during the 1999 Kargil episode) and two "Bravest of the Brave" citations. The Museum of the Regimental Centre displays a record of the Sikh Regiment in four halls viz., the Religious/motivational Hall, the Hall of Heritage, the Regimental Glory Hall and the Peripheral Gallery. The two winners of Param Vir Chakra are L/Nk Karam Singh in 1948 during Kashmir operations and Sub Joginder Singh during the Chinese Aggression of 1962.
Following Operation Bluestar, a large number of recruits at Ramgarh mutinied. They shot and killed the Commandant of the Sikh Regimental Center, Brigadier S.C. Puri and wounded some other officers. They then got hold of a number of trucks and started to proceed towards Punjab, but were stopped by army men in Bihar and U.P. A large part of 9 Sikh which was in the Ganganagar area of Rajasthan mutinied. This battalion was disbanded on April 1, 1985. Following Operation Bluestar, the then COAS, General Arun Vaidya wanted to have more mixed battalions, so he passed an order that single class battalions should begin recruiting other classes as well as their parent class. These mixed battalion came to be known as "Vaidya’s Battalions". Regarding the Sikh Regiment, 13 Sikh is the Vaidya battalion and its class composition consists of a company each of Sikhs, Dogras, Garhwalis and South Indians.
The Chief of Army Staff made a special instant award of "Unit Citation" to 8th Battalion, The Sikh Regiment for their meritorious and gallant performance during the isolation of Tiger Hill, which facilitated the capture of Tiger Hill top and battles of Helmet and India Gate, features to the West of Tiger Hill top, on night 07/08 July 1999, in Dras Sector. During Operation "Vijay", the unit displayed sterling performance marked with exceptional valour and grit in the face of the enemy