CONTRIBUTION OF THE ASSAMESE -NEPALI IN DEFENCE AND SECURITY OF THE NATION

7th Gurkha Rifles
Background:For most of the Nepalese in Assam today, Gorkha soldiers in the Gurkha Regiment and the Assam Rifles etc. were their progenitors. Because, though recruited from Nepal, Sikkim, Darjeeling, Dehradoon and elsewhere, they ultimately settled in Assam and many other states of India. 

SUBJECT MATTER: By the beginning of the 19th century the entire present day Nepal and a few territories of the northern India were under the rule of the Gorkhas, the kings of Nepal. The Anglo-Nepal war began in May, 1814 and it ended with the Treaty of Segowlee(1815). The British annexed Garhwal, Kumaun and Terai areas from Gorkha possession and restored Darjeeling to Sikkim. The British secured the right to recruit Nepali cadets into the British army. According to Kansakar : By the time the war in the west ended in 1815 about 4,650 soldiers of the Gorkhali (Nepali) army had deserted their homes and sought service with the company in response to the invitations of the British Commanders and the British raised three regiments from the Gorkhalis which later became the I, II and III Gurkha Rifles. Sensing the resistance offered by the Gorkhali army to the British, Sikh King Ranjit Singh recruited Gorkhalis in the Khalsa army by offering high pay and also entered into a treaty with the Nepal government in 1839. Gorkhalis who went to Lahore for recruitment since then have been termed Lahure (one who goes to Lahore) by the Nepalese. During the Anglo-Sikh war of 1846 the British Gurkhas faced a battalion or two of the Gorkhas in the Sikh army.1
The British raised a total of 11 Gurkha Rifles or army regiments in India, viz. (i) 1st King George V. Own Gurkha Rifles (The Malaun Regiment); (ii) 2nd King Edward VII. Own Gurkha Rifles (The Sirmoor Rifles); (iii) 3rd Queen Alexandra's Own Gurkha Rifles; (iv) 4th Prince of Wales Own Gurkha Rifles; (v) 5th Royal Gurkha Rifles; (vi) 6th Gurkha Rifles; (vii) 7th Gurkha Rifles; (viii) 8th Gurkha Rifles; (ix) 9th Gurkha Rifles; (x) 10th Princess Mary's Own Gurkha Rifles2; and (xi) 11th Gurkha Rifles.3
The 6th, 7th and 8th Gurkha Rifles were mainly involved in the earstwhile undivided Assam, present Bangladesh and Myanmar (Burma). The 8th Gurkha Rifles fought most of the battles in the North East frontier of India during British expeditions 4 since 1824-1849. 

6th Gurkha Rifles : This regiment was raised by captain S. Fraser at Chaubisganj in Cuttack, Orissa by the name 'Cuttack Legion' in 1817. In this context Edward Gait mentions : Captain Neufville also commanded the Assam Light Infantry, a corps of about a thousand men, which had been raised in Cuttack in 1817, under the name of the Cuttack Legion, and was subsequently transferred to the Rangpur district of Bengal. After its permanent location in Assam, it consisted mainly of Hindustanis and Gurkhas, with a sprinkling of Manipuris and natives of the province.5 In 1828, it became the Assam Local Light Infantry.6 In 1864 the Eastern Frontier Brigade (later called Eastern Frontier District) was formed under a Brigadier General with 28th Native Infantry Regt. 42nd Native Infantry Regt. 44th Native Infantry Regt. and an Eurasian Artillery Regt. The HQs along with one native Infantry Regt. and the artillery were slated to be placed in the new military station. However, the move of the military into Shillong was delayed due to the Anglo-Bhutan war of 1864-65. Though the civil departments and the political office moved to Shillong in 1866 from Cherrapunjee, the military units only moved on their return from the Anglo-Bhutan war.7 A great earthquake occured on 12 June, 1897 in the Khasi and Jaintia Hills at 1712 hrs. This fact is found to be recorded in a book named Bhuinchalako Sabai (a ballad on earthquake) composed by Atmaram Magar (first part in 1897 and second part in 1905). The 42nd Gurkha Rifles was replaced from Shillong by the 44th Gurkha Rifles. The Assam Local Light Infantry became the 42nd Gurkha Light Infantry in 1886. In 1903, it was known by the name of the '6th Gurkha Rifles'. Its second battalion was raised in 1904.8

7th Gurkha Rifles : In 1902, Major E. Vansittart raised a Gurkha Rifles at Thayetmyo in Burma from the '8th Madras Infantry'. In February, 1903, it become 2/10 Gurkha Rifles. This battalion was brought to India in 1905. In 1907, it became the 7th Gurkha Rifles. In the same year in 1907, its second battalion was raised. The British took away this battalion with them after India's Independence.9

8th Gurkha Rifles : In 1824, Captain P. Dudgeon raised the Sylhet Local Battalion in Sylhet. Lieutenant-Colonel H.J. Huxford, O.B.E. wrote : The regiment, since the raising of its 1st Battalion in 1824 has been intimately connected with Assam P.16110. In 1861, the 1st Battalion was renamed as the 48th Regiment of the Bengal Native Infantry. In the same year, it was renamed as the 44th Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry. It became the 44th (Sylhet) Regiment of Bengal Light Infantry in 1864. It was known as the 44th (Sylhet) Regiment of Bengal Light Infantry in 1885. In 1886, it became 44th Regiment, Gurkha (Light) Infantry. In 1889, it was known as 44th (Gurkha) Regiment of Bengal Light Infantry. It became the 44th Gurkha (Rifles) Regiment of Bengal Infantry in 1889. In 1901, it was renamed as the 44th Gurkha Rifles. In 1903, it became the 8th Gurkha Rifles and in 1907, it became 1/8 Gurkha Rifles.11
In 1835, Captain W. Simonds raised 2/8 Gurkha Rifles at Shillong. Originally it was designated as the Assam Sebundry Corps. In 1839, it was known as the Lower Assam Sebundry Corps. In the same year, it was further renamed as the 1st Assam Sebundry Corps. In
1844, it became the 2nd Assam Light Infantry. In 1861, it was given two names namely the 47th Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry and the 43rd Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry. This 2nd Battalion of the 8th Gurkha Riffles after the Sepoy Mutiny was renamed as the 43rd(Assam) Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry in 1864. In 1885, it was known as the 43rd (Assam) Regiment of Bengal Light Infantry. In 1886, it was designated as the 43rd Regiment of Gurkha (Light) Infantry. It became 43rd Gurkha Regiment of Bengal Light Infantry in 1889. In1891, it was renamed as the 43rd Gurkha (Rifles) Regimental of Bengal Infantry. In 1901, it was known as the 43rd Gurkha Rifles and in 1903 it became the 7th Gurkha Rifles and in 1907 as the 2/8 Gurkha Rifles.12 Shillong was its home. Huxford wrote: Generally speaking, the Gurkha elements in the regiment now gradually increased until eventually the composition consisted entirely of the Gurkhas.13
Sir Edward Gait throws some light on the 6th, 7th and 8th Gurkha Rifles. He wrote: There are now three regiments in the Brahmaputra valley. The Assam light infantry with headquarters at Sibsagar and the two sebundry corps which were stationed at Gauhati and Rangpur respectively. The last mentioned was disbanded in1844. In the same year, the lower Assam Sebundry corps was transformed into a regular regiment known as the 2nd Assam or Kamrup Light Infantry, and later as the 43rd Gurkha Rifles. The Ist Assam Light Infantry which was afterwards moved to Dibrugarh, developed into the 42nd Gurkha Rifles and the Sylhet Light Infantry became 44th; according to the recent renumbering of the regiments of the Indian
Army the 42nd, 43rd and 44th regiments have become respectively the 6th, 7th and 8th Gurkah Rifles.14
The army lists which showed the rank of Gurkha soldiers in the 1/8 Gurkha Rifles were (i) Kushalsingh Thapa, (Lt. Col.) (ii) Kurrungsing Rana(Bahadur, I.O.M.) (iii) Kaloo Thapa (Honorary captain) (iv) Goondyal Singh (Bahadur), (v) Bakhansing (Sardan Bahadur), (vi) Kabiraj Karki(O.B.I, I.O.M), (vii) Nawal- sing Rana (O.B.I, I.O.M.) (viii) Rukman Sahi (Bahadur, O.B.I.) (ix) Parbir Thapa, (x) Kharak- Sing Thapa (Hon. Lieutt), (xi) Kharak Bahadur Rana (I.D.S.M), (xii) Bhawani Dutta Jaici, (xiii) Gan Bahadur Rana (Bahadur , O.B.I), (xiv) Tularam Gurung (M.B.E), (xv) Prasad Gurung, (xvi) Darabjit Gurung, (xvii) Bil Chand Gurung. The army list of the 2/8 Gurkha Rifles were (i) Sardar Bahadur (O.B.I), (ii) Gambir Singh Lama (Hon. Captain), (iii) Singbir Thapa, (iv) Karnabir Thapa, (v) Birbal Nagarkoti (O.B.I), (vi) Abiram Gurung (Sardar Bahadur O.B.I), (vii) Birbham Thapa (Sardar Bahadur, O.B.I), (viii) Rimani Thapa (Bahadur O.B.I), (ix) Basanta Sahi (M.B.E), (x) Tek Bahadur Pun (Hon. Lieutt.), (xi) Thapa (xii) Hom Bahadur Thapa (Hon. Lieutt.), (xiii) Kul Bahadur Gurung, (xiv) Tikaram Thapa (Bahadur OBI), (xv) Jit Bahadur Gurung, (M.C. J.O.M.). 15 Subedar Major Monbir Chetry settled at Shillong after retirement. He was one of the pioneers in the formation of Assam Gorkha Ex-servicemen's Association and he was engaged in other social activities also (Madal issue no. VI, 1995; ed. G.N. Pradhan and N.B. Rai)

Gurkha Rifles in Burma
In the Assam Rifles, BSF(Border Security Force), CRPF(Central Reserved Police Force), the AP(Assam Police) and in other paramilitary forces a large number of Nepalese are there from Assam. The gallantry and the sacrifice of these soldiers and policemen were highly praised particularly during the partition of India (1947), Chinese aggression(1962), Pakistan war(1965) and Pakistan war(1971). The Gorkha soldiers of the undivided Assam have sacrificed their lives for the unity and integrity of India. For their bravery, the government of India conferred on them Paramvir Chakra, Mahavir Chakra, Vir Chakra, Saurya Chakra and Sena Medal. The President of India awarded Vir Chakra to Havildar Tilak Singh of Shillong (present Meghalaya) in 1956 for his gallantry in Jammu and Kashmir during the partition of India in 1947. He captured five enemies in Jammu and Kashmir at the time of partition. Lt. Col. Dhan Singh Thapa was the recipient of Param Vir Chakra. During the Chinese aggression the Editorial of the Assam Tribune(English daily), Guwahati on 12 November 1962 stated, It is the bounden duty of the Indian Nepalese to sacrifice their all and to go ahead of all at the forefronts in fighting with the Chinese aggressors in defending the Sovereignty of their motherland Bharat. Nayak Subedar Tez Bahadur Gurung of Shillong became martyr in the Indo-China war of 1962. The Government of India posthumously awarded him Vir Chakra.
Assam and Nagaland Governor B.K. Nehru awarded gallantry awards to the Gorkha soldiers of Assam Rifles on the Independence Day in 1969. The recipients were Zamadar Purna Bahadur Tamang, Lance Naik Ker Bahadur Gurung, Rifleman Lal Bahadur Chettri (Gold Medal), Rifleman Kalu Singh, Rifleman Jota Singh, Naik Bal Bahadur
Chettri, Subedar Man Bahadur Rai, Subedar Khem Singh, Subedar Chabilal Rai, Zamadar Nar Bahadur Chettri, Zamadar Mohan Singh Bista, Naik Shyam Rathi Singh, Naik Kishore Subba and Assistant Commandar Sudhir Gurung.16
The Assistant Commander Ram Mani Upadhyaya of the 87th Battalion of Border Security Force was awarded President's Police Medal for distinguished service. He with his colleagues attacked 15 terrorists trying to enter Pakistan (now Bangladesh) on 9th June, 1968 from the Mizo Hills. The encounter took place for 45 minutes in which 4 terrorists died on the spot and others fled away.17 In the Indo-Pakistan war of 1971 many Gorkha soldiers became martyrs. The Gorkha soldiers who received Mahavir Chakra were Ratiram Gurung of the 5/1 Gorkha Rifles, Dil Bahadur Chettri of the 4/5 Gorkha Rifles, Havildar Bir Bahadur Poon, Col. Chitru Benu Gopal. Vir Chakras were posthumously awarded to three Gorkha soldiers in this war. They were Ratiram Poon of the 5/5 Gurkha Riffles, Man Bahadur of the 5/1 Gurkha Riffles. Other recipients of Vir Chakras were Lance Naik Jarjang Gurung of the 1/4 Gurkha Riffles Shri Dhan Bahadur Rai of the 7/11 Gurkha Riffles, Havildar Bodhiman, 2nd Lt. Prakash Chandra Katti, Air Force Squadron Leader Ghanashyam Singh Thapa, Krishna Kumar Pradhan of the 1/4 Gurkha Rifles, Havildar Dal Bahadur Gurung. The Saurya Chakra was awarded to Tarta Bahadur Gurung of the 4/5 Gurkha Riffles, Krishna Kumar Thapa of the 6/5 Gurkha Riffles, Hom Bahadur of the 6/5 Gurkha Riffles, Nayak Hem Bahadur Gurung, Bikram Singh Thapa. The receipient of a Naval award was Bikram Singh Thapa. A Naval award was also received by Nar Bahadur Thapa.18 Dil Bahadur Chetry was the recipient of Mahavir Chakra for his gallantry in the Indo-Pak war in 1971-72. Names of some of the Martyrs from the 3/11 Gurkha Rifles in the Pakistan war of 1971 were Nayak Subedar J.B. Rai, Signalman Suresh Thapa and Signalman Durga Baraily. Major Sanjay Thapa of the Nine Para-Regiment, Shillong was awarded Sena Medal on 15 August, 1996 for fighting to curb terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir. He apprehended 16 terrorists and recovered AK47,

Assam Rifles
AK56 rifles and other arms and ammunition from their possession. Subedar Ram Bahadur Thapa of the 5/1 Gurkha Riffles was the recipient of Saurya Chakra on the eve of the Independence Day.19
It is not necessary to elaborate further and go into the details of individual contribution made by the Nepalese in Assam in the defence of the motherland. Suffice it say, the Assamese-Nepali are no less patriotic than others in India. 

- Purushottam Bhandari
From Different Sources. 

 


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  1. Dear Mr Bhandari. With due respect I strongly object to the term 'deserted their homes' as quoted by someone called Kansakar. Desertors were mainly from the Garhwali and Kumaonis not the Nepali-Gorkhas who joined only after permission by their Commander. With reference to the Chapter 5 Part 3 of my book called Flames of Malaun--The Battle of Giants... clause 5 of agreement.

    2) AGREEMENT ENTERED INTO BETWEEN KAZI AMAR SINGH THAPA AND MAJOR-GENERAL DAVID OCHTERLONY ON MAY 15, 1815


    5. All the troops in the service of Nepaul, with the exception of those granted to the personal honour of the Kajees, Ummer Sing and Runjore, will be at liberty to enter into the service of the British Government, if it is agreeable to themselves and the British Government choose to accept their services, and those who are not employed will be maintained on a specific allowance by the British Government, till peace is concluded between the two states.


    No self-respecting Gorkhali should ever repeat directly or indirectly the word deserted or desertors for Nepali speaking Gorkhas. As it is untrue. It was first written by somebody and unsconsciously repeated it smirching the reputation of all Gorkha tribes who form the Gorkha Regiments. Respectfully, Jyoti Thapa Mani, author of The Khukri Braves.

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  2. The information mentioned by jyoti is correct to my knowledge and belief.

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