The Chamaar Regiment

  1. Chamars role in Military

    During World War II, the Chamar Regiment was created and was involved on the Japanese front[2]. The Chamar Regiment was disbanded after the war. Former Pakistani Leader Ayub Khan was an officer of the Chamar Regiment.
    Many Chamars have played an active role in the events of 1857. 
    The bravery of Banke Chamar of Village Kurarpur, Distt. Jaunpur (UP) is highlighted by the historians. This revolutionary laid down his life for the country and was ordered to be hanged by the British for his role in the events of 1857. 
    Chetram (Jatav) and Belluram also sacrificed their life for being the moving force behind Barrackpur revolution.
    Chamar-Satnami kingdomThere was a Satnami Kingdom of Narnaul (Haryana). The Satnami sect of Hinduism was founded in 1657 in Narnaul (a town in today’s Indian state of Haryana, situated about 100 km south-west of Delhi, by a saint names Birbhan. They are considered to be an offshoot of the followers of the great saint Ravidas. 

    (Preliminary Draft of Paper to be Presented at the Edinburgh Conference on ‘Mutiny at the Margins:

    New Perspectives on the Indian Uprising of 1857’ from 23-26 July 2007)

    I'd like to share information of a little known regiment of the Indian Army that does not exist today - at least not in its original form & name - The Chamar Regiment.

    The 1st Chamar Regiment was an infantry regiment formed by the British during World War II. Officially, it was created on 1 March 1943, as the 27th Battalion 2nd Punjab Regiment was converted.

    The Chamar Regiment which was involved in the Pacific War Japanese front and was awarded the Battle Honor of Kohima for theirs distinguished role in the Battle of Kohima. The Regiment was disbanded in 1946.Some time ago , several politicians have demanded that The Chamar Regiment be revived.

    They are found mainly in the northern states of India, Pakistan and Nepal.

    During the Second World War, the British raised two regiments that were exclusively from Scheduled Castes - the Chamar Regiment and the Mahar Regiment. The former had to be disbanded during the War, as they could not meet their recruitment quotas. The latter had to be converted into an all India, open class Regiment, as they were not able to get enough recruits from the Mahars alone to meet the recruitment quotas.

    The Chamar had a history of military service. Many Chamar families are descended from Kshatriya communities, and share common family names, for example Bhatti, Chauhan or Toor. Many Chamars were recruited in British Indian Army during World War I and II on various ranks. Their contribution in these great wars was exempelary. They received many medals and stars in recognition of their bravery and honest contribution in these wars after being recruited in various regiments of Brish India Army. The Ist Chamar Regiment was awarded the 'BATTLE HONOUR OF KOHIMA' for its distinguished role in the 2nd World War. Former Pakistani Leader Ayub Khan was an officer of the Chamar Regiment.

    The Raising of the Chamar Regiment.

    A committee appointed by the British Indian army recommended the inclusion of Chamars in the Indian army. The Chamars are lower caste Hindus and are mostly cobblers. However they had a history of fighting as soldiers in Central India against the Jats. A decision was taken to raise a regiment of Chamars. However the British retained the caste character of the army and also kept in mind the martial traditions while recruiting.

    The Chamar regiment was raised towards the end of 1943 and was thrown into battle against the Japanese Imperial army. It formed part of 168 Division of the Indian army and was commanded by Brigadier Dyer.

    The Regiment fought very well and pushed the Japanese back along with other Indian forces out of Burma. Rangoon was captured and no mean part was played by the Chamar Regiment. Many distinguished officers like General Ayub Khan served in the Chamar regiment.

    Disbandment if the Chamar Regiment

    In 1945 the Second World War came to an end after the dropping of the Atomic bombs on Japan. Suddenly a force of 2.5 million became a luxury and an emaciated England could ill afford such a large army. It was decided to restore the Indian army to pre- war force levels.

    Mass scale demobilization was ordered and the newly raised regiments faced the first axe. The British retained the old Sikh, Gurkha and Jat regiments and demobilized all others. Almost 2 million soldiers were sent home. The Chamar Regiment was also disbanded in 1945 end and it ceased to exist except in the history books.

    Last Word.

    After Independence with the force level of the Indian army again rose to 1. 22 million a demand is made by many political leaders to re induct the Chamar regiment. Backward class leaders are particularly vociferous in this demand. 

  2. Mahar Regiment

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Mahar Regiment
    Mahar Regimental Insignia.gif
    Mahar Regiment Insignia
    CountryIndia India
    BranchIndian Army
    TypeLine Infantry
    Size19 battalions
    Motto(s)Yash Sidhi (Success & Attainment)
    War CryBolo Hindustan Ki Jai (Say Victory to India)
    Decorations1 Param Vir Chakra, 4 Maha Vir Chakra, 29 Vir Chakra, 1 Kirti Chakra, 12 Shaurya Chakra, 22 Vishisht Seva Medals and 63 Sena Medals.[1]
    Regimental InsigniaA pair of crossed Vickers medium machine guns, mounted on a tripod with a dagger. The dagger was initially the Pillar of Koregaon, where the combined British and Mahar troops defeated the overwhelming Peshwa Army. The pillar was subsequently removed and was replaced with a dagger.[1]
    The Mahar Regiment is an infantry regiment of the Indian Army. Although it was originally intended to be a regiment consisting of troops from the Mahar community of Maharashtra, the Mahar Regiment is one of the only regiments in the Indian Army that is composed of troops from all communities and regions of India.

    Maratha Empire

    The Mahars were recruited by the Maratha king Shivaji as scouts and fort guards in his army. They were also heavily recruited by the British East India Company, at one part forming one-sixth of the Company's Bombay Army. The Bombay Army favoured Mahar troops for their bravery and loyalty to the Colours, and also because they could be relied upon during the Anglo-Maratha Wars. They achieved many successes, including in the Battle of Koregaon, where Mahar-dominated Company troops defeated a much larger led by Peshwa Baji Rao II. This battle was commemorated by an obelisk, known as the Koregaon pillar, which featured on the crest of the Mahar Regiment until Indian Independence. Mahar troops of the Bombay Army also saw action in the Indian Mutiny of 1857, and two regiments (the 21st and 27th) joined the revolt under the British.War cry of this regiment is "Bolo Hindustan Ki Jay ".

    The Martial Races theory and disbandment


    The recruitment policies of the British Indian Army continued until the beginning of the First World War in 1914. The War forced the Government to begin more broad-based recruiting, and the Mahars were at last allowed to enlist in the Army. One battalion of Mahar troops, the 111th Mahars was raised in the June 1917. However, the battalion did not see much service during the War, and in 1920 it was merged with the 71st Punjabis. Finally, the battalion was disbanded in March 1921, and the Mahars were once again demobilised.
    The period between the wars saw increased efforts by the Mahars to persuade the government to let them enlist in the Army. One proponent of Mahar recruitment was Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, whose father, Sub. Maj. Ramji Maloji Sakpal had been a soldier in the British Indian Army. However, the proposed reorganisation of the Indian Army that was to occur in the 1930s was postponed because of a lack of funds in the Great Depression. In 1939, the Second World War broke out, and once again, the Army was forced to overlook its narrow minded recruitment policies in the face of harsh necessity.

    Raising of the Mahar Regiment

    The Border Scouts

    Composition and RecruitmentThe Border Scouts were an irregular force formed by the people of the border villages in East Punjab during Partition. Hailing as they did from the erstwhile greater state of East Punjab (which included the present states of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh), the force had people hailing from a greater mix of ethnic, religious and caste backgrounds than was the norm in the Indian Army. They did some useful work defending villages from attacks during partition, and as a reward, were given a more permanent character as the East Punjab Frontier Scouts in 1948. They served along the border with Pakistan as border guards, and were regarded as a useful adjunct of the Punjab Armed Police. The unit was redesignated the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the Border Scouts in 1951, with recruitment from different North Indian communities. In 1956, the decision to convert this force into Machine-Gun Regiments was taken, and the three battalions were merged with the Mahar Regiment, the only Indian Machine Gun Regiment in existence at the time. They joined the Regiment as the 4th, 5th and 6th Battalions of the Mahar Regiment, and it is to these units that the Regiment traces its mixed-class composition. The three Battalions style themselves battalions of the Mahar Regiment (Borders) even today.
    The class composition of the Regiment also changed. While 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 7th, 8th and 13th battalions were all pure Mahar battalions, the others were mixed classes right down to the smallest sub-unit level. The conversion training started in November 1963 with 1st Mahar and completed in May 1964 with 10th Mahar. The year 1965 saw all the battalions of the regiment gearing up for operations. These included the newly raised 11th and 12th battalions that had the unique composition of Bengalis, Oriyas and Gujratis - the communities that had been stamped as non-martial by the British. Their entry into the Mahar fraternity added strength to national integration-the distinctive feature which the regiment has always been proud of.
    • 1st Battalion
    • 2nd Battalion
    • 3rd Battalion
    • 4th Battalion (Borders)
    • 5th Battalion (Borders)
    • 6th Battalion (Borders)
    • 7th Battalion
    • 8th Battalion
    • 9th Battalion
    • 10th Battalion
    • 11th Battalion
    • 12th Battalion
    • 13th Battalion
    • 14th Battalion (formerly 31st Mahar)
    • 15th Battalion (formerly 32nd Mahar)
    • 17th Battalion
    • 18th Battalion
    • 19th Battalion
    • 20th Battalion
    • 21st Battalion 

    Former Battalions

    • 25th Battalion (disbanded 1946).
    • 16th Battalion (formerly 8th Parachute Regiment) (converted to 12th Mechanised Infantry in 1981)

    Allied Units

    • 108th Infantry Battalion Territorial Army (based at Dehradun)
    • 115th Infantry Battalion Territorial Army (based at Belgaum)
    • 1st Battalion Rashtriya Rifles
    • 30th Battalion Rashtriya Rifles
    • 51st Battalion Rashtriya Rifles
  3. After the Revolt, the British officers of the Indian Army, particularly those who had served in the First and Second Afghan Wars, began to give currency to the Martial Races Theory. This theory was that some races and communities among Indians were naturally warlike, and more suited to warfare than others. A major proponent of this theory was Lord Roberts, who became Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army in the November 1885. There was a gradual "Punjabisation" of the Indian Army to the detriment of the other communities. The final blow for the Mahar troops came in 1892, when it was decided to institute "class regiments" in the Indian Army. The Mahars were not included in these class regiments, and it was notified that the Mahars, among with some other classes, were no longer to be recruited in the Indian army. The Mahar troops, who included 104 Viceroy's Commissioned Officers and a host of Non-commissioned officers and Sepoys were demobilised. This event was regarded by the Mahars as a betrayal of their loyalty by a government they had served for over a hundred years.

  4. After the demobilisation of the Mahar troops, there were many attempts by the leaders of the Mahar community to persuade the Government to let them serve in the Army once again. Petitions to this effect were drafted by ex-soldiers such as Gopal Baba Walangkar in 1894, and Shivram Janba Kamble in 1904. These petitions were supported in principle by the politician and social reformer Gopal Krishna Gokhale, who was opposed to the Martial Races theory. They were also supported by the Indian National Congress, who were also opposed to the recruiting policies of the Army.

  5. In the July 1941, B. R. Ambedkar was appointed to the Defence Advisory Committee of the Viceroy's Executive Council. He used this appointment to exert pressure within the military establishment for a Mahar regiment. He also appealed to the Mahars to join the Army in large numbers. In October, the Army gave in, and the 1st Battalion of the Mahar Regiment was raised in Belgaum under Lt. Col. HJR Jackson of the 13th Frontier Force Rifles and Sub. Maj. Sheikh Hassnuddin. The 2nd Battalion was raised in Kamptee in June 1942 under Lt. Col. JWK Kirwan and Sub. Maj. Bholaji Ranjane. A cap badge was designed for the Regiment by Capt. EEL Mortlemans, an officer of 2nd Mahar. The badge featured the Koregaon Pillar over the word "MAHAR". The third battalion, the 25th Mahars, was raised in Belgaum in the August 1942 by Lt. Col V. Chambier and Sub. Maj. Sardar Bahadur Ladkojirao Bhonsale, and the 3rd Mahars were raised in Nowshera by Lt. Col. RND Frier and Sub. Maj. Bholaji Ranjane. During the War, the 1st and 3rd Mahars served in the North-West Frontier Province, while the 2nd and 25th Battalions were employed on internal security duties within the country. The 2nd Battalion also saw service in the Burma Campaign as a part of the 23rd Indian Division, where they suffered 5 casualties and had one officer Mentioned in dispatches. They also served in Iraq after the War as a part of PAIFORCE. In 1946, the 25th Mahars were disbanded, along with many other garrison battalions of the Indian Army. Its officers and men were largely absorbed by the other three battalions of the Regiment. In the October 1946, the Regiment was converted into a Machine Gun Regiment, and the Regimental Centre was established at Kamptee. Following conversion of the Regiment to a machine-gun regiment, the cap-badge was changed. The new badge had two crossed Vickers machine guns over the Koregaon Pillar, over a scroll that said "The Mahar MG Regiment". The three surviving battalions of the regiment served as a part of the Punjab Boundary Force, and took part in escorting refugees during the Partition of India.

    Sikh Light Infantry

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Sikh Light Infantry
    Sikh Light Infantry Insignia.gif
    Sikh Light Infantry Insignia
    ActiveJune 1857-Present
    CountryIndia India
    TypeLight infantry
    • Infantry
    Additional roles
    • Direct Action
    • Amphibious warfare
    • Mountain warfare
    • Counter Terrorism
    • Internal Security
    Size18 battalions
    Nickname(s)Sikh LI
    Deg Teg Fateh
    (Prosperity in Peace and Victory in War)
    Post Independence 1947
    1 Ashok Chakra, 5 Maha Vir Chakra, 6 Kirti Chakra, 23 Vir Chakra, 13 Shaurya Chakra, 82 Sena Medal, 4 Param Vishisht Seva Medal, 8 Ati Vishisht Seva Medal, 3 Yudh Seva Medal, 17 Vishisht Seva Medal,49 Mention in Despatches and 122 COAS's Commendation Cards.
    Battle honours
    Post Independence 1947
    OP Hill, Kalidhar, Fatehpur and Parbat Ali
    War CryJo Bole So Nihal, Sat Sri Akal (Blessed is the one who proclaims the Truth of God)
    The Sikh Light Infantry, previously known as The Mazabhi and Ramdasia Sikh Regiment, is a light infantry regiment of the Indian Army. Its name was changed to the Sikh Light Infantry in 1944. The Sikh Light Infantry is the successor unit to the Mazhabi Sikh Pioneers 23rd, 32nd and 34th Sikh Pioneers. The Sikh Light Infantry inherited the battle honours, colours and traditions of the Mazhabi Sikh Pioneers on its merging with a few Ramdasia companies in 1941.
    The Sikh Light Infantry recruits Mazhabi Sikh and Ramdasia soldiers who are famous for their extraordinary courage and tenacity on the battlefield. During its existence for nearly a century under the British Raj, the Sikh Light Infantry and its predecessors, the 23rd, 32nd and 34th Royal Sikh Pioneers distinguished themselves with loyalty to the British Crown and the empire in numerous conflicts in and around the Indian subcontinent as well as the First World War and the Second World War. Today, the Sikh Light Infantry has expanded beyond its primary infantry role and holds an "elite" regimental status. The 9th battalion of the Sikh Light Infantry conducts special amphibious assaults similar in nature to the Royal Marines of the United Kingdom. The 11th battalion of the Sikh Light Infantry has earned the nickname "Steel Fist". The versatility of the Sikh Light Infantry has seen the regiment conduct operations from conventional warfare on the Siachen Glacier, the highest battlefield in the world, to counter-terrorism. The Sikh Light Infantry also conducts operations as part of the United Nations Emergency Force. The regimental motto is "Deg Tegh Fateh", meaning "prosperity in peace and victory in war". The motto has great significance with the tenth and most martial Sikh guru, Guru Gobind Singh], as the Mazhabis are very closely associated with him. The Sikh Light Infantry insignia is a Chakram or Quoit, with a mounted Kirpan. The insignia was designed to honour the Mazhabi Sikh community's Akali Nihang ancestry. The former Chief of Army Staff, General Bikram Singh, PVSM, UYSM, AVSM, SM, VSM, ADC belongs to the Regiment. He is also the Colonel Of The Regiment The Sikh Light Infantry.


    The Sikh Light Infantry and the Sikh Regiment, the former with 18 regular battalions and together totalling 36 battalions, account for about ten percent of Indian Army's 300+ infantry battalions.

    Sikh Light Infantry personnel march past during the Republic day parade in New Delhi, India
    The Sikh Pioneers were disbanded on 10 February 1933 were re-raised to fight in the Second World War, beginning with the First Battalion on 1 October 1941. Recruitment was opened up to the Ramdasia Sikhs. The Sikh Light Infantry is now an 18-battalion strong regiment that is capable of rapid deployment in defence or attack. A further 16 battalions have been raised since India's independence.
    The Sikh Light Infantry has provided support for Parachute Regiment with its 2nd battalion augmenting the strength of the 50th Parachute Brigade (India) in the 1961 invasion of Goa. Here they supported the main thrust of the attack as part of its western column. They moved rapidly across minefields, roadblocks and four riverine obstacles to be the first to reach Panjim.

    Regimental battalions

    Indian Soldiers assigned to the 9th Battalion of the Sikh Light Infantry arrive aboard USS Boxer (LHD 4) to participate in Malabar 2006. Malabar 2006 is a multinational exercise between the U.S., Indian and Canadian armed forces to increase interoperability between the three nations and support international security cooperation missions
    • 1st Battalion
    • 2nd Battalion
    • 3rd Battalion
    • 4th Battalion
    • 5th Battalion
    • 6th Battalion
    • 7th Battalion
    • 8th Battalion
    • 9th Battalion (Marine)
    • 10th Battalion
    • 11th Battalion (Steel Fist)
    • 12th Battalion
    • 13th Battalion
    • 14th Battalion
    • 15th Battalion
    • 16th Battalion
    • 17th Battalion
    • 18th Battalion
    • 103rd Battalion (TA)
    • 158th Battalion (TA)
    • 163rd Battalion (TA)

    Culture and ethos of the regiment

    The Chakram and Kirpan are traditional and iconic weapons of the Akali Nihang order. The Mazhabi Sikhs dominated this order throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. The Chakram and Kirpan were combined to make the Sikh Light Infantry Insignia.
    Due to the cultural origin of its recruits, the Regiment maintains not only a strong Sikh culture but also a Punjabi culture. The Sikh faith plays a strong role in the day-to-day life and functioning of the regiment and its soldiers. The Sikh Light Infantry maintains its own regimental gurdwara for the daily worship for its soldiers. The Sikh recruits of the regiment have a long and strong standing history with the Sikh religion. The Mazhabi Sikhs had long stood in the armies of the Sikhs' Tenth Guru and in the later Khalsa Army raised by Ranjit Singh. which forged and established the Sikh Empire.
    The religious life of the soldiers sees them conduct shabad kirtan and all other aspects of Sikh worship. The Sikh religion plays a large role in their life as active soldiers, through the teachings of the tenth Sikh guru and the notion of "Sant-Sipahie" - Saint soldier.
    The regimental motto is derived from the tenth Guru of the Sikhs; Deg Tegh Fateh, meaning "Prosperity in peace and victory in war". It incorporates Guru Gobind Singh's teachings of peace tolerance and community spirit, but to unsheathe the sword when a tyrant or oppressor threatens those ethos and refuses peaceful co-existence.
    The battle cry of the regiment is "Jo Bole So Nihal, Sat Sri Akal!" meaning "He who recites the name of the lord, shall forever be victorious!" The regimental insignia is a combination of the Chakram and Kirpan, traditional weapons of the Akali Nihangs, a religious warrior monk order started by Guru Gobind Singh in the 18th century. Chakrams are still worn on the turban by the regiments soldiers; however, its use is ornamental and for occasional uniformed display or parades. It is not used in battle or incorporated in the combat attire.
    In addition to their religious lives, soldiers in their free time engage in traditional Punjabi culture. Bhangra a folk dance of the Punjab is a regular pastime of the soldiers.


    Recruits must be Mazhabi Sikhs, and since 1941 Ramdasia Sikhs. Mazhabi Sikhs must provide identification certificates showing their status as Mazhabi Sikhs for eligibility to join the regiment as well as meeting the other minimum standards.
    There is no caste or religion bar on appointed officers in the regiment. They can come from any caste or religious background as long as they are educated through the internal commissioned officers program.


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