The Indian Army’s proposal to induct non-Gorkhas from Uttarakhand into the Gorkha Rifles (GR) has received a strong response from Nepalese-domiciled Gorkha veterans who have served in GR regiments.
Speaking to TOI, Colonel DK Pradhan (retd) — a Gorkha from Nepal who is a veteran of the 1971 Indo-Pak war — said the move will adversely affect the fighting spirit of the unit. “The Gorkhas fight for ‘Naam, namak and nishaan’. The spirit is ingrained in the community and plays a key role for us. If people from other areas are included in regiment too, it won’t be the same thing,” he said.
When asked about other regiments of the Army having soldiers from other ethnicities, another Nepalese-domiciled veteran who did not wish to be named, said the other regiments have had this tradition from earlier times but that is not the case with the Gorkha regiments. “The Gorkha regiments have only had Gorkha soldiers and breaking this tradition is not a good idea. If this is being done because of the strained relations between India and Nepal, people should remember that the ties would mend soon. I feel that these things should not affect the induction policy of one of the fiercest regiments of the Indian Army,” the veteran said.
Notably, Gorkhas are inducted into the GR regiments in a 60:40 ratio — for every 60 recruits from Nepal, there are 40 from India. The move to induct non-Gorkhas from Uttarakhand into the GR regiments is also being seen by some as a move to tilt the balance in favour of Indian-domiciled soldiers. Subedar Major RK Thapa (retd), who is in charge of matters pertaining to Nepalese Gorkhas in the All-India Gorkha Ex-Servicemen’s Association, said if there was a plan to decrease the number of recruits from Nepal, the Army should focus on recruiting Gorkhas from India instead of inducting non-Gorkhas.
Meanwhile, some veterans from the community in India welcomed the move.