Veteran Colonel Joginder Singh, Mrs Kiranjit, Marina and I – we all travelled from Toronto, Canada to Faridkot, Punjab, India – to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the raising of our regiment – 75 Medium Regiment (Basntar River). A reunion, is a gathering of people who have shared a past, and the joy of reuniting is to see the individuals with whom the past was shared. Here we were reuniting to share our past, the good old regimental days, with those brave officers and soldiers, who now carry the mantle, history and traditions.
Our Regiment was raised in 1966 at Delhi and was equipped with 130 mm Russian Guns. It had three batteries – one battery was of Brahmins (other than those from the Southern and Eastern States of India), the second had Jats and the third was manned by the soldiers from the four Southern States. By the turn of the century, the Regiment was reorganised with soldiers from all over India, from all castes and religions.
The Regiment was awarded Honour Title “BASANTAR RIVER” in recognition of outstanding contribution by all Officers and soldiers during the 1971 Indo-Par War. The Regiment provided fire support for the most famous battle of Zafarwal in that the two Param Vir Chkra (Highest Gallantry Ward) winners – Second Lieutenant Arun Khetrapal of 17 Poona Horse and Major Hoshiar Singh pf 3 Grenadiers – both were supported by the Regiment’s Observation Post (OP) Officers – Captain SC Sehgal and Captain Mohan Krishnan. Captain Sehgal was awarded Vir Chakra posthumously for his gallant actions and Capt Mohan Krishnan was awarded Mention-in-Despatches.
As we landed at New Delhi Railway Station – there was an impromptu get-together. We were met by Veteran Major General PK Ramachandran, Brigadier Madan Sheel Sharma, Veteran Colonel Ashok Arora and Veteran Colonel Ranjan Deb. We were received at Faridkot Railway Station with all the fanfare and were escorted to the Officers’ Mess
With the present team of officers of the Great Regiment – ably commanded by Colonel DR Jadhav – They made the event come alive and memorable. They surely left no stone unturned to make the event a grand success.
During lunch at the Officers’ Mess, we met Mrs Sneh Thadan, wife of Late Brigadier KN Thadani. Lieutenant Colonel Thadani commanded our Regiment during the 1971 Indo-Pak war and was awarded Vishisht Seva Medal for his exemplary leadership and planning. There was Veteran Brigadier MS Brar VSM, SM. He was the Battery Commander with Hudson Horse during Battle of Basantar River of the Indo-Pak conflict of 1971.
Veteran Brigadier AN Suryanarayanan – our Commanding Officer when I joined the Regiment in December 1982 – was there in his smart and erect posture with his signature mustache..
Veteran Colonel Mahaveer Singh – the Commanding Officer under whom I served the longest – 1983 to 1988 was at his cheerful best as expected.
The Stalwarts here – From Left – Veteran Brigadier JPS Ahluvalia (Commanding Officer 1990 -93), – Veteran Brigadier AK Sikka (first Battery Commander under whom I served), – Veteran Brigadier AN Suryanarayanan – Veteran Colonel Mahaveer Sing and – Veteran Brigadier Rajesh Kumar – Adjutant of our Regiment during Indo-Pak War of 1971
There was a Wreath Laying a wreath at the War Memorial of the Regiment, where all veterans and serving soldiers paid their respect to all those who laid down their lives, serving the motherland. The bust of Captain SC Sehgal, Vir Chakra and Captain Pratap Singh, Maha Vir Chakra aptly adorned the memorial.
Captain Pratap Singh and I served with the Regiment from 1984 to 1988. During his deployment in Siachin Glacier in 1988, Capt Pratap Singh was performing the duties of OP officer at Bana Post, the highest post in the glacier. On 26 May 1988 he volunteered to cut the ropes tied by the enemy to launch assault on Bana Post and hence prevented its capture. While he went on to accomplish this task, a booby trap laid by enemy exploded causing severe injuries, yet this brave officer, with cold courage and determination, completed his task before succumbing to injuries. For his outstanding, exemplary and gallant act in the best traditions of Indian Army he was awarded Maha Vir Chakra posthumously.
We presented a Silver Trophy to the Regiment on the occasion – replica of a Bofors Gun the Regiment is currently equipped with.
There were many occasions for us to interact with Veteran Soldiers who served under our command and it I had many a goose bumps as they recounted and reminisced various events, sports competitions, operations, etc.
I was lucky to meet and interact with Colonel PR Ravikumar and Colonel UV Rao – the smart Young Officers who served with me. Colonel Ravi commanded our Regiment and Colonel Rao is commanding a newly raised Medium Regiment.
During the Golden Jubilee party at the Officers’ Mess, Mrs Sneh Thadani cut the cake.
It was indeed a moment of pride for me as I sat down to sign the Visitors’ Book at the Officers Mess as the table on which I was signing had the phototograph of Major General BK Guha, Colonel of Regiment. He was the Senior Subaltern when I joined the Regiment in December 1982.
As I bid goodbye to the Regiment, I spoke to Colonel Jadhav “The Regiment was good – that is why so many Veterans turned up; the Regiment is good – that is why you could put up such a great show; and the Regiment will surely remain good for the times to come.” , We all enjoyed every bit of the moments we shared and will ever be etched in our memory.