The Punjab Regiment is one of the oldest serving regiments of the Indian Army. It is also the most popular owning to its depictions in Indian cinema. In keeping with its reputation of hailing from a region that is known for valour and sacrifice for the motherland, the Punjab Regiment has earned numerous battle honours and decorations throughout its history.
1. The Punjab Regiment is the third-oldest regiment of the Indian Army as it was formed in 1761 at the time of Carnatic wars.
2. Did you know that the army unit you see in the film ‘Border’ was a company of Punjab Regiment?
3. The historic Battle of Longewala during the 1971 Indo-Pak War was fought by soldiers of the 23 Punjab led by Major (later Brigadier) Kuldeep Singh Chandpuri.
The battle fought on 5 December 1971 has been well documented in the 1997 film directed by JP Dutta.
4. Did you know that Hrithik Roshan’s character in ‘Lakshya’ is an officer of the 3 Punjab?
5. Though the British raised the Punjab Regiment in 1761, Maharaja of Patiala, too, raised a battalion of Punjabi soldiers in 1705.
The British-raised Punjab Regiment was initially called Coastal Sepoys and then 2nd Punjab Regiment. The battalion raised by Maharaja of Patiala is today part of the modern-day Punjab Regiment as 15 Punjab.
6. Technically, the 15 Punjab is the oldest infantry battalion of the Indian Army having completed 313 years of service.
7. Seven Punjab Regiment soldiers were honoured with Victoria Cross during British Rule.
All seven were British Indians.
8. General Pran Nath Thapar is the only Punjab Regiment officer to have become the Chief of the Army Staff.
General Thapar served as the army chief from 8 May 1961 to 19 November 1962. He resigned following India’s defeat to China in the 1962 Indo-China war thus becoming the only Indian army chief to do so. His son is noted journalist Karan Thapar and niece is Marxist historian Romila Thapar.
9. The battalions of the Punjab Regiment are mainly composed of Punjabis from across the northern states.
Though Sikhs and Dogras were recruited chiefly in the earlier days, the focus eventually shifted to all class communities who have a Punjabi connection. Only the 19 and 27 battalions have a mixed class composition.
10. Like other regiments, Punjab Regiment, too, has 19 regular battalions.
It also has three Territorial Army battalions and four battalions dedicated to Rashtriya Rifles.
11. It is the only Regiment of the Indian Army with a naval galley as its insignia.
The galley was a long row boat used in war during the medieval period. The galley was selected as the insignia of Punjab Regiment by the British as a symbol of the willingness of the soldiers to serve overseas in the first half of the 19th century. This was in stark contrast to orthodox Hindu belief which prevented others from going overseas.
12. Like other regiments raised before 1918, the Punjab Regiment, too, participated in the two World Wars and won battle honours.
13. As is the case with every Indian Army regiment in existence since the time of Independence, Punjab Regiment participated in all of the wars fought since 1947.
14. There are two war cries of the regiment uttered depending on the soldier’s class.
Sikh’s can say ‘Jo Bole So Nihal Sat Sri Akal’ while non-Sikhs can say ‘Bolo Jwala Ma Ki Jai’.
15. Motto(s) of Punjab Regiment is ‘Sthal Wa Jal’ which means ‘By Land and Sea’.
16. The first and second regimental centres of the regiment are now in Pakistan. It is now headquartered in Ramgarh Cantonment, Jharkhand.
17. The 1st Battalion (Special Forces) of the Indian Army was formed from 1st battalion 2nd Punjab Regiment in 1978.
Thus soldiers of the Punjab Regiment were the first recruits of the legendary Para troopers of the Indian Army.
18. India’s first mechanised infantry battalion – the 1st battalion Brigade of Guards – was raised from 2nd battalion, 2nd Punjab Regiment.
It was raised in 1951 by General (later Field Marshal) KM Cariappa.
19. Punjab Regiment is the only regimental name common between Indian and Pakistani armies.
There were six Punjab regiments in the British Indian Army at the time of partition. Pakistan got five and India got one – the 2nd Punjab Regiment.
20. Lt Gen Jagjit Singh Aurora in this famous photo was an officer of the Punjab Regiment.
The iconic photo, clicked on 16 December 1971, shows him watching Lt Gen AAK Niazi, Commanding Officer of Pakistan Army forces in East Pakistan, signing the instrument of surrender.