Lucknow: It is said that if a war cry doesn’t work to stave off the fight, it should be fierce enough to instil fear into the enemy.
Fifty years ago, facing stiff resistance from Pakistani troops to secure a strategic bridge for India in Muddafarganj area of Comilla district in Chittagong, then-East Pakistan, Gorkha Rifles ‘johnnys’ (what jawans are affectionately called) resorted to their famous fear instilling war cry ‘Jai Maa Kali, Aayo Gorkhali’ to charge at the enemy. Eventually, they chased them with their razor-sharp khukri to end the resistance.
Sharing the tale, war veteran and Vir Chakra recipient Col (retd) Bimal Kishandas Badgel of 1/11 Gorkha Rifles said, “Pakistan troops fled like a bunch of baboons when we charged at them with our regiment war cry.”
As the commander of Alpha company with 120 men, Badgel, then a 28-year-old Major, was given the task to withhold Muddafarganj bridge. On the night of December 7, the bridge was attacked twice by 29 Baloch Regiment.
Badgel, now 78, said, “Pakistani troops came in two back-to-back waves, shouting the war cry ‘Ya Ali’ to take the bridge vital for the Indian Army. My ‘johnnys’ whipped out their khukris and charged at the Pathans with the war cry ‘Jai Maa Kali, Aayo Gorkhali’. Some enemies were killed while the rest fled. I had sustained a bullet injury in my left arm in the attack.”
In another example of the fierceness of Gorkha Regiment, the veteran said, “On December 3, the first day of the war, Lt Col Akbar Baig, commanding officer of Pakistan’s 25 Frontier Force Regiment, five other officers, eight JCOs and 202 men surrendered with large quantity of weapons and ammunition with Chinese markings.”
Currently, 1/11 Gorkha Rifles is based in Lucknow.
Badgel also recalls that after capturing each post of Pakistani troops, local Bengali population hidden in villages used to rush towards Indian troops with food and water and pro- Bangladesh and Indira Gandhi slogans.
“Seeing Pakistani troops fleeing, they would shout ‘Indira ki jai’ and ‘Bengal ki jai’,” added Badgel.